Two Monster Movies

film 1 of 2

The Thing from Another World

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

Ford’s My Darling Clementine! A lot like it, anyway. As in that other towering monument of virtuous Americanness, the good guys here confront some pretty formidable malice, even evil. And as in Ford’s film, standing up against evil carries a considerable cost. There’s no perfunctory scriptsmanship here, and the intensity is such that the real world really stands at the doors. But what an optimistic horror movie! Good humour and modesty never falter, there’s a beautiful, organically developing romance right in the middle of the mounting jeopardy, and at the end of the film the world is not only saved but it’s a better place.  

There are so many felicities here: fabulous dialogue and a faultless ensemble performances by a bunch of basic nobodies, the result being that this ends up being a more effective, more socially progressive piece of collective protagonism than Eisenstein’s Strike; a propulsive pace that somehow, simultaneously feels like Henry Fonda leaning back on that chair on a spacious Sunday morning; superb architecture, most especially in those three escalating Thing/Arness scenes; constant proto-Altman badinage that really constitute expressions of regard and love; philosophic interludes that have the dialectical clarity of a Platonic dialogue; a Renoirian undercurrent that concludes in a very moving statement of humanist solidarity. Doctor Carrington made a terrible mistake and wore facial hair, and at the end they all cheerfully cover up for him. This isn’t cold war paranoia or Nixonian xenophobia. This is a great country. Also, whatever the opening credits may say, there’s no way that Howard Hawks didn’t direct this.