of the Worlds on DVD
They're here! Or at least, They were!
George Pal's War of the Worlds is one of the grand old Hollywood
sci fi flicks, a genre classic from the man who's in great deal
responsible for creating the genre.
Pal also made such flicks as Destination Moon and The Time Machine,
but he's probably best known for WOTW. His version of H.G. Wells'
Victorian novel is updated and moved to California from Britain,
but it still works.
And this DVD really does the film justice. It features a razor
sharp image that, other than the fact it's more than 50 years old,
looks like it could've been shot this year, except that you just
can't get that great old Technicolor look any more.
Gene Barry stars as a scientist who just happens to be on a fishing
trip when the first Martian cylinder lands nearby. He's the mountain
of strength and reason while everything else starts falling apart
Chief among the things falling apart is co star Ann Robinson, who
spends far too much of the movie screaming and being terrorized.
This is made humorous at one point when Barry tells her she won't
fall apart because she's too strong - then almost immediately she
goes to pieces.
The storyline has been loosely adapted from Wells, but there's
a lot to like. The Martian machines are really neat, their death
rays equally nifty. Heck, even if you think the story's a silly
piece of fluff it's great to watch the wonderful color images and
the marvelous - for their day - special effects.
So we get to see the evil aliens destroy lots of military ordnance
(and personnel) and wreaking havoc on Los Angeles (and wouldn't
we all love to do that?).
Oh, yeah, we even get some neat shots of the old Northrop Flying
Wing bomber jet.
For what more could anyone ask?
Well, a quieter female costar perhaps. But she was fairly decorative,
which was undoubtedly her primary function anyway.
This disc looks great, and sounds as great as something from 1952
can. But that's only part of the story: it also features some great
extras that sci fi fans will want in their collection.
Perhaps the most important of these is the entire 1938 Orson Welles'
radio version, the one that supposedly panicked America when it
was broadcast as a Halloween "boo!". Listening to it from
the beginning - or all the way through - you may wonder why people
could have been panicked. But on the other hand, if you joined it
in progress and only heard some of the faux news reports, well,
one can see how it could have happened.
You also get a running commentary from actors Ann (Yearrrgh!!!)
Robinson and Gene Barry, and another one featuring cinefantastique
director Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns and Bill Warren (author
of "Keep Watching the Skies"). The only thing missing
is Forrest J. Ackerman (though if you keep watching the supplements
you may notice Mr. Sci-fi).
There's also a "Making of" featurette that's pretty interesting
and a short feature on H.G. Wells, who started the whole thing.
A marvelous disc!
War of the Worlds, from Paramount Home Entertainment
85 min. full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital
Starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne
Produced by George Pal
Written by Bare Lyndon, directed by Byron Haskins
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