Article 3896 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-1-2010
Posting Date: 4-14-2012
Directed by Roy William Neill
Featuring Grant Mitchell, Margaret Irving, Gertrude Hillman
What it is: Contact with Mars story
An obsessed inventor creates a giant radio with which he hopes to make contact with Mars.
This movie was originally shot in an early 3D process and had a running length of 95 minutes. My copy runs only 50 minutes, but, from a story perspective, I really don’t see a whole lot missing. It’s a charming, rather fanciful science fiction comedy. Some of it is obvious; for example, we get a fairly predictable series of jokes about how much more advanced the Martians are than we are. Still, it’s rather fun; the scenes on Mars are entertaining, it has some rather creatively photographed scenes (I love the use of lightning during a storm sequence, as well as some cool use of smoke during one of the experiments), and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a relatively young Grant Mitchell before (he was 49 when this was made). On the down side, it has one of those twist endings which would have annoyed me no end if I hadn’t seen it coming, but at least the movie uses the twist ending for a touch of poignancy; the inventor’s reaction to it is rather sad. Still, it does betray a certain anti-science attitude, or, to be more blunt, the message of the movie is that science works best when it thinks small.