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Jy M M Jq if I This Week Movie Editor
The Martians are staging still another invasion
of our groggy planet. But they’ve picked a new
target they’re landing smack in the movie capital
Thanks to a producer with the unlikely name of George
Pal. Hollywood has finally caught up with the flying
saucers. Mr. Pal is just finishing up the most ambitious
science-fiction film ever to be made in motion pictures —a
screen version of H. G. Wells’s famous story of a Martian
invasion of Earth, “War Os The Worlds.”
Mr. Pal is the same fellow who made “Des
tination Moon” —the first Hollywood fantasy
ever to soar off into space from a platform of
real scientific speculation.
Before he pepped up the field, Hollywood’s
ventures in the field of science fiction were of
the old-fashioned variety. The thriller-chiller
specialists out on the Coast never got much
further than the quaint 19th-century notions
of Frankenstein, Dracula. vampires and zom
bies. When this limited Gothic vein threat
ened to peter out, they resorted to clumsy
sequels “Bride of Frankenstein,” “Son of
Dr. Jekyll,” etc.
“Destination Moon” got away from the
philters and potions, it abandoned the old-time chemical
laboratory for the supersonic, electronic, atomic science of
tomorrow. Others followed suit.
II Sewed Us Before
Last year there was a rash of films dealing with space travel
and the possibility of life on other planets ‘The Thing,”
“The Man From Planet X,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still”
and Pal’s own “When Worlds Collide.”
None of them topped “Destination Moon.” “War Os The
Worlds” may, however. This is the same fantasy with which,
you may remember, Orson Welles years ago on the radio
frightened some good citizens of New Jersey and elsewhere
clean out of their wits.
Mr. Pal has added some modem touches. In his film the
TIDAL WAVE engulfs New York in “When Worlds Collide," Pal's second science-fiction chiller
Martian invaders are met with atom bombs. Even this
awesome weapon of modem science cannot prevail against
them. In the end it is a tiny germ that wipes out the menac
ing men from Mars.
You will not see these Martian men on the screen in the
RESCUE from space in
Pal’s "Destination Moon"
The producer, who is nothing if not candid,
will be the first to admit that the picture ended abruptly
just at the point where it got most interesting. “We didn’t
run out of story ideas,” he said. “Only out of money.”
The picture was a decided financial success, and Paramount
promptly signed him up to make as many science fantasies as
he could dream up, under their banner.
Mr. Pal has the extraordinary record of never having
made an ordinary film. Everything he has turned his
hand to has been fantasy. He got into pictures as the
creator of “Puppetoons,” the first animated puppets on the
screen. His first live-action picture was “The Great Rupert,”
(This Week, Feb. 5, 1950) which had an animated, stuffed
squirrel as the leading actor opposite Jimmy Durante.
He is a strange figure of a producer to be dealing with un
earthly subjects, because in habits and manner he is as plain
George Pal version, save in dim outline. Mr.
Pal had devised a most frightening monster,
and then decided that it was too scary for the
public. It looked like a walking piece of raw
liver if you must know and you ought
to be glad the producer decided to spare you.
The All-Seeing Eye that the Martian men
send snooping around comers where their
victims are crouching is frightening enough
(see opposite page).
Mr. Pal has a sizable budget for a change.
“Destination Moon” was made on a relative
shoestring, representing all the money that
he owned himself and what he could borrow
on so novel a venture.
PAL His stars are cameramen, special-effects artists
as an old shoe. Hungarian-born, Ik was trained as an archi
tect, married his childhood sweetheart and lives with her and
his two sons in modest surburban style in Brentwood, Calif.
He has few friends in the movie colony, doesn’t drink, avoids
night clubs and is no conversationalist, being much too modest
a man to hog the floor.
He admits to a scant knowledge of either science or fiction,
and credits Robert Heinlein, scientist and writer, and Chesley
Bonestell, the interplanetary artist, for the phenomenal success
of “Destination Moon.” So meticulous were these scien
tist-artists that they were incorrectly criticised for an
“error” in their firmament the stars didn't twinkle.
“They weren’t supposed to,” says Pal. “In the absence of
atmosphere, the sky would actually look like a backdrop.”
Pal’s stars, he is fond of saying, arc the cameramen and the
special-effects artists. He is unusually frank in admitting his
large use of miniatures and trick photography —a subject that
is usually taboo in Hollywood. “I’m not going to pretend that
we built an actual rocket ship and sent it into space,” he said.
“The camera did it —a wonderful instrument.”
A liali Owvnw
“You can come over to Stage Three,” he continued, “and
take a look at the cities and canals of Mars. .You are apt to be
disappointed.” And, sure enough, his planets were painted,
his universe a backdrop, and his stars peeked out of canvas.
Mr. Pal’s world is not to be seen on this earth, save through
the camera’s eye.
Recalling that science-fiction writers anticipated the air
plane, the submarine, the tank, the rocket ship, the atom
bomb, the strato-suit, Mr. Pal takes his science fiction seri
ously. Hollywood is the place for it, he argues, more than in
the pages of a book.
“If a thing doesn’t exist,” he says, “then the special-effects
man is the fellow to shape it up for you. We’ll build you a
universe and destroy it in three days.”
This is the man talking who landed you on the Moon, and
wiped out the city of New York with a tidal wave.
He lodes harmless. The End
EARTH DEFENDER attacks invader in “Man From Planet X”
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