July 9, 2024


1951/ 82 min
Available at www.MovieZyng.com
Review by Mr. Paws😺

During the 50s & 60s, George Pal was synonymous with science-fiction, sort of making him the George Lucas of the day. Though he didn’t actually direct them, The War of the Worlds & When Worlds Collide are probably his most iconic films, especially the former.

They also have something of a shared history. In the wake of Star Wars’ massive popularity, the films were re-released as a double feature with the tagline, “The science-fiction fantasies that started it all…” And in 2022, Paramount released a two-disc set featuring The War of the Worlds on 4K, along with When Worlds Collide on Blu-ray for the first time. 

Now it’s available separately. However, this is the same Blu-ray edition, meaning the picture and sound are great, but other than a trailer, there are no additional bonus features. Too bad, really, because while The War of the Worlds is the better-known film, When Worlds Collide is an influential classic in its own right. Scores of subsequent doomsday flicks owe a tip of the hat to this one (In fact, what eventually became 1998’s Deep Impact began life as a remake). Surely that's worth some kind of retrospective appreciation.

"Where'd we put the rest room? Uh..."

Loosely based on a 1932 novel, When Worlds Collide is a 1951 science-fiction disaster film in which a rogue star, Bellus, is hurling toward Earth and global annihilation is inevitable. After freelance courier pilot Dave Randall (Richard Derr) delivers the bad news to a group of scientists led by Dr. Cole Hendron (Larry Keating), they realize the only way for humankind to avoid total extinction is constructing a rocket capable of carrying 40 people to Zyra, an Earth-like planet orbiting Bellus. The project is financed by self-serving billionaire Sydney Stanton (a wonderfully hateful John Hoyt) in exchange for reserving a spot on the ship for himself. Then it’s a race against time to build the ship, select the lucky few (by lottery) to make the journey and blast-off before Earth is incinerated.

When Worlds Collide is a tight, economically-made film that looks more epic than it really is, thanks to a creative combination of miniatures, stock footage and imaginative matte paintings depicting the aftermath of destruction (though the final shot Zyra’s sunrise looks like it was lifted from a cartoon). For the most part, the story stays on-point, save for a goofy love triangle involving Randall, Hendron’s daughter Joyce (Barbara Rush) and her fiancee, Dr. Tony Drake (Peter Hansen). How this conflict is ultimately resolved is utterly laughable. 

Of course, the film is undeniably quaint and old fashioned today, maybe even a little corny at times (like the Bible-quoting prologue and voice-over shout-outs to God). Still, When Worlds Collide remains a highly entertaining and influential piece of vintage doomsday. 



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