GUNSMOKE: THE PRISONER (1969, USA) ***½
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Leo Penn; w. Calvin Clements Sr.; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Leon Klatzkin; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Donald W. Ernst; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Newton Jones, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 17 March 1969; r/t. 50m.
cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Jon Voight (Steven Downing), Ramon Bieri (Jarvis), Ned Glass (Pink Simmons), Buck Taylor (Newly), Paul Bryar (Sheriff Ryan), Kenneth Tobey (Bob Mathison), James Nusser (Louie Pheeters), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Tom Brown (Ed O’Connor), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), David Fresco (Barber), Jan Peters (Cardplayer), Nick Borgani (Townsman (uncredited)), Michelle Breeze (Saloon Girl (uncredited)), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Noble ‘Kid’ Chissell (Townsman (uncredited)), Fred Dale (Townsman (uncredited)), Duke Fishman (Townsman (uncredited)), Raven Grey Eagle (Townsman (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Fred McDougall (Mathison Henchman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)), Sid Troy (Townsman (uncredited)).
(s. 14 ep. 25) Voight is a prisoner being escorted by a bounty hunter (Bieri) to a town where his chance of receiving a fair trial are slim. When the prisoner saves Kitty from a near-death accident, she intervenes by winning his bounty at poker and then trying to protect the young man until the Marshal (Arness) can return. This is a well scripted and directed episode, which gives Blake centre stage. Her poker game with Bieri is well-staged and builds in tension. An embittered Tobey, the husband of the woman Voight has supposedly murdered, enters the scene in the final act to exact his own form of justice. The strong cast and interesting storyline make this an above-average segment.
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (USA, 1951) ****½
Distributor: RKO Radio Pictures (USA), General Film Distributors (GFD) (UK); Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures / Winchester Pictures Corporation; Release Date: 6 April 1951 (USA), 1 August 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 25 October 1950 – 3 March 1951; Running Time: 87m; Colour: B&W; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG – contains mild threat.
Director: Christian Nyby; Writer: Charles Lederer (based on the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. (as Don A. Stuart)); Producer: Howard Hawks; Associate Producer: Edward Lasker; Director of Photography: Russell Harlan; Music Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin; Film Editor: Roland Gross; Art Director: Albert S. D’Agostino, John Hughes; Set Decorator: Darrell Silvera, William Stevens; Costumes: Michael Woulfe; Make-up: Lee Greenway; Sound: Phil Brigandi, Clem Portman; Special Effects: Donald Steward; Visual Effects: Linwood G. Dunn.
Cast: Margaret Sheridan (Nikki Nicholson), Kenneth Tobey (Capt. Patrick Hendry), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Arthur Carrington), Douglas Spencer (Ned Scott), James Young (Lt. Eddie Dykes), Dewey Martin (Crew Chief Bob), Robert Nichols (Lt. Ken Erickson), William Self (Cpl. Barnes), Eduard Franz (Dr. Stern), Sally Creighton (Mrs. Chapman), James Arness (‘The Thing’). Uncredited: Edmund Breon (Dr. Ambrose), Nicholas Byron (Tex Richards), John Dierkes (Dr. Chapman), George Fenneman (Dr. Redding), Lee Tung Foo (Lee – a Cook), Paul Frees (Dr. Vorhees), Everett Glass (Dr. Wilson), ‘King Kong’ Kashey (Eskimo), David McMahon (Brig. Gen. Fogarty), Bill Neff (Bill Stone), Walter Ng (Second Cook), Charles Opunui (Eskimo), Norbert Schiller (Dr. Laurence), Robert Stevenson (Capt. Smith – Fogarty’s Aide), Riley Sunrise (Eskimo).
Synopsis: Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.
Comment: Although it plays loose with the source material this is a tense, tightly scripted and well-acted sci-fi that bears all the hallmarks of producer Hawks despite being credited as directed by his long-time editor Nyby. Hawks’ trademarks of overlapping dialogue and a strong female character (Sheridan) always ahead of her male suitor (Tobey) are immediately evident. The movie was to become a major influence on the sci-fi horror genre. Arness, in heavy make-up, is “The Thing” and Spencer’s warning to the world “Watch the skies” captures the political paranoia of the period.
Notes: Re-issue version runs 81m. A remake, following the source material more closely, was released in 1982, which itself generated a prequel in 2011. The complete title of the viewed print was The Thing from Another World . In the opening credits, the words “The Thing” appear first in exaggerated, flaming type, followed by the words “from another world” in smaller, plain type. The picture was copyrighted in early Apr 1951 under the title The Thing . According to publicity materials contained in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, producer Howard Hawks added the words “from another world” to avoid confusion with a novelty song entitled “The Thing,” which was a hit single at the time of the picture’s release. Margaret Sheridan, a former fashion model, made her screen debut in the picture.