The Man From Planet X (1951)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/31/20
Cast: Robert Clarke, Margaret Field

"Ghost? No. Something of flesh and blood, yet neither."

Professor Elliot has discovered a planet rapidly heading towards Earth, which he has dubbed "Planet X." He calls for his reporter friend John (Robert Clarke) to visit Scotland and help document the phenomena. Naturally, the professor has a beautiful young daughter named Enid (Margaret Field) and John makes some really creepy sexual advances towards her. The professor has also employed a brilliant, but unscrupulous man to assist him, whose back story is never fleshed out. He apparently spent some time in prison for some heinous crime, and his involvement puts the entire world at risk. Enid discovers a UFO out on the moors and encounters a creepy spaceman with a giant head housed inside a domed helmet. The aliens obviously aren't that smart, because the pressure adjustment on their suits is just out of reach for them, but extremely easy for a human to grab and manipulate. Initially, the spaceman's intentions seem friendly, but it has a mind-controlling ray and appears to be an advance scout for an invasion party when Planet X reaches its closest approach. Evidently, Planet X is dying and its people want to colonize Earth in order to save their species. But not if Mankind has anything to say on the matter! After dispatching an emergency call to Scotland Yard, the British Army shows up and blows up the spaceship before any more can arrive.

It's an extremely low budget film with laughably poor visual effects. The sets utilize unconvincing paintings and miniatures, and the spaceman looks ridiculous. However, the cinematography is good and the use of deep shadows creates an eerie and menacing atmosphere. The acting is decent, and while some of the dialog is cringe-worthy, it tries to be serious and scientifically plausible. While the planetary flyby of Planet X would probably tear both worlds apart, in the film it's just a bright momentary flash that causes tidal waves and hurricanes. It also made me wonder how the aliens were intending to descend to Earth at that speed. Given the time period, the film has a strong undercurrent of xenophobia and Cold War paranoia, which John cynically summarizes at the end: "Knowledge would only bring more fear, in a world already filled with it."