Not of This Earth (1957 film)
Not of This Earth is an independently made 1957 American black-and-white science fiction film produced and directed by Roger Corman for his Los Altos Productions, that stars Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Morgan Jones, William Roerick, and Anna Lee Carroll. The film was written by Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna and was distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation as a double feature with Attack of the Crab Monsters. Its theatrical release had a running time of 67 minutes, that was expanded to 70 minutes in 1962 for TV syndication.
|Not of This Earth|
|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||Charles B. Griffith|
Anna Lee Carroll
|Music by||Ronald Stein|
|Cinematography||John J. Mescall|
|Edited by||Charles Gross|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists|
|67 minutes (or 71 minutes)|
|Box office||$1 million|
The storyline concerns the attempts by an extraterrestrial humanoid to surreptitiously secure the blood of humans and to test it on himself as treatment for a fatal blood disorder which is ravaging the population of his home planet.
A man who is not of this earth (Paul Birch) has adopted the name "Mr. Johnson" for moving among the populace of Los Angeles. This alien has a sensitivity to high-decibel sounds and is conspicuous only for his stilted and formal syntax and his sunglasses, which he wears even in the dark. The sunglasses hide his blank, white-eyed stare which kills his victims by burning through their eyes and into their brains. He removes the blood of his first victim - a teenage girl who has just been dropped off by her boyfriend - using a system of tubes and canisters that he keeps in an aluminum attaché case.
Johnson is from the planet Davanna, where the inhabitants have developed an incurable blood disease, and he has been sent to Earth to examine the blood of the humans for its usefulness in curing Davanna's dying race. Johnson is answerable to an authority on Davanna with whom he can communicate through a device hidden behind a sliding panel in the living room of his Griffith Park mansion. His bodyguard, Jeremy (Jonathan Haze), who also acts as his chauffeur and houseboy, provides him support and protection, but is unaware of his alien nature.
Johnson hires nurse Nadine (Beverly Garland) to look after him in his house. Her boss, town physician Dr. Rochelle (William Roerick), is under Johnson's hypnotic control after finding out about his patient's peculiar blood cell structure. With a limit on the number of transfusions he can be given, Johnson takes to murdering locals and draining them of blood. Adding to his victims are a strolling Chinese-American man, a sleazy door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, and a trio of homeless male drunkards. The police are mystified by these "vampire killings".
Johnson's plans are disturbed by the unexpected and sudden appearance of a woman from Davanna (Anna Lee Carroll). While Johnson can command earth humans through telepathy - even to the point of using their native tongue, he can also completely communicate with fellow aliens through telepathy. The alien female asks him for an immediate transfusion, because her physical condition is rapidly deteriorating. Johnson then breaks into Rochelle's office, but by accident he steals blood contaminated with rabies.
Later, the Davanna woman collapses in the street, dying at a hospital. Nadine's friend, police patrolman Harry Sherbourne (Morgan Jones), tries to question Dr. Rochelle about the dead woman, but he is unable to speak while under Johnson's mind control. As a precaution, now fearing discovery, Johnson sends a bizarre oxygen-activated flying, umbrella-like alien creature to kill Rochelle, then eradicates Jeremy, who has discovered evidence of Johnson's murderous tendencies; but Nadine, whom he attempts to kidnap and take with him, manages to call the police as Johnson takes after her through the park in his car. Johnson abandons her and flees, pursued by the arriving Sherbourne on his motorcycle. When Sherbourne turns on his siren, Johnson, to whom the sound is immensely painful, loses control of his car and dies in a crash.
After Johnson's burial, Sherbourne and Nadine stand by his grave, which bears the inscription "Here lies a man who was not of this Earth". While Sherbourne expresses mild compassion for Johnson, for his driving force of the rescue of his planet and its dying populace, Nadine refuses to offer any kind of pity. They leave, just as a mysterious man, wearing dark sunglasses, approaches the grave site. Like Johnson, he wears the same sunglasses and carries the same distinctive case containing transfusion equipment.[Note 1]
Griffith said that after he and Corman had collaborated on the film Gunslinger, he suggested they make a science fiction film and Corman agreed; Not of This Earth was the result. He also said he originally wrote the part of the vacuum cleaner salesman for himself.
Griffth said the film "started all this X-ray eye business. Most of Roger's themes got established right in the beginning. Whatever worked, he'd come and take again, and a lot of things got used over and over. During the production of Not of This Earth, I was married to a nurse, and she helped me do a lot of medical research. I remember how we cured cancer in that script. Somehow the film was a mess when it was finished."
Props and locationsEdit
Griffith says that "Paul Birch was supposed to wear wraparound glasses, so you couldn't see the sides of his eyes. They stuck gaffer's tape on the sides of his glasses. You can see it if you look. In that film, I was in the scene at the newsstand at Las Palmas."
The exterior of the house that Johnson lives in was at 1725 Camino Palermo in Hollywood, it has since been replaced by a block of apartment buildings. The car that Johnson uses is a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 limousine. Dr. Rochelle's office exterior is the now-demolished Hollywood Receiving Hospital which was located at 1350 North Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood.
Not of This Earth was released in the U.S. on the bottom half of a double bill with Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters. According to Tim Dirks, the film was one of a wave of "cheap teen movies" released for the drive-in market. They consisted of "exploitative, cheap fare created especially for them [teens] in a newly-established teen/drive-in genre."
Griffith says that the double bill of Not of this Earth and Attack of the Crab Monsters made a 400% profit in the first week.
Some release prints of Not of This Earth run 71 minutes; these include duplicate scenes the film's distributor added into the film. Example: a dialogue between Johnson and a representative from Davanna, which appears as a pre-title sequence, is reused again some minutes in the film. This release version circulated in syndication on U.S. TV stations, 16 mm copies, and bootleg DVDs and videotapes.
Geoff Andrew in his Time Out review, noted that Not of This Earth: "Low budgets give little reason for regret when the often tacky effects are surrounded by so much imagination, good humour, and sheer joy in film-making as here. Not of This Earth is a minor sci-fi gem, with an alien (Birch; you can tell he's an ET by his briefcase and dark glasses, establishing him as infinitely superior to the moronic middle Americans on view) terrorising Earth (or a small backlot) in his quest for blood for the folks back home".
Lexikon des Science Fiction Films said this about the film: "[…] although not necessarily first rank, [Not of This Earth] still belongs, bearing its low budget in mind, to the best science fiction films of the Fifties".
Not of this Earth is available in the U.S. as a regular DVD, a part of the Roger Corman's Cult Classics Triple Feature DVD box set, and in the UK as a single DVD. Foreign DVD releases exist in Spain (as Emisario del otro mundo) and Germany (as Die Außerirdischen).
- The mysterious man who has appeared at the site, walks straight toward the viewer.
- Alan Frank, The Films of Alan Frank: Shooting My Way Out of Trouble, Bath Press, 1998 p 36
- McGee, Mark Thomas; Robertson, R.J. (2013). "You Won't Believe Your Eyes". Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-273-2. Page 254
- Graham, Aaron W."'Little Shop of Genres: An interview with Charles B. Griffith'." Senses of Cinema, April 15, 2005. Retrieved: June 12, 2012.
- McGilligan, Pat (1997). Backstory 3: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1960s. University of California Press. p. 160.
- Where Monsters Walked By Gail Orwig and Raymond Orwig, 2018.
- University of California Santa Barbara Automated Vital Statistics System, Table 4: 1960 - 2017 Historic Hospital List by NAME - AVSS
- Weldon, Michael. The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. London: Plexus, 1989.
- "Trivia: 'Not of This Earth'." IMDb.com. Retrieved: March 6, 2015.
- Dirks, Tim. "The History of Film - The 1950s: The Cold War and post-cClassical era, the era of epic Ffilms, and the threat of television, Part 1." filmsite.org. Retrieved: March 16, 2015.
- Pym 2004, p. 847.
- Hardy 1991, p. 390.
- Hahn, Ronald M. and Volker Jansen. Lexikon des Science Fiction Films, 5th ed. München, Germany: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1992.
- Hardy, Phil, ed. Science Fiction: The Aurum Film Encyclopedia, Vol. 2. London: William Morrow & Co., 1991. ISBN 978-0-6880-0842-0.
- Pym, John, ed. "Not of This Earth". Time Out Film Guide. London: Time Out Guides Limited, 2004. ISBN 978-0-14101-354-1.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the 1950s, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina" McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 978-0-78644-230-0.