The Flame Barrier (1958)

70 mins | Science fiction | June 1958

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HISTORY

According to a Jul 1957 DV news item, Gramercy Pictures purchased the original story "The Flame Barrier" from author Sam X. Abarbanel and signed George Worthington Yates to write the screenplay. Yates received screen credit for both the original story and the script; Abarbanel's contribution to the completed film, if any, has not been ... More Less

According to a Jul 1957 DV news item, Gramercy Pictures purchased the original story "The Flame Barrier" from author Sam X. Abarbanel and signed George Worthington Yates to write the screenplay. Yates received screen credit for both the original story and the script; Abarbanel's contribution to the completed film, if any, has not been determined. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Apr 1958.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1957.
---
Film Daily
29 Apr 58
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1957
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1957
p. 16.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Apr 58
p. 784.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Casting
Prod asst
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1958
Production Date:
early December--mid December 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Gramercy Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 April 1958
Copyright Number:
LP10474
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18925
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Nine days after its launch, a satellite rocket inexplicably loses power and is presumed by scientists to have disintegrated after falling into the “flame barrier,” a protective zone two hundred miles above the earth. Some months later, wealthy Carol Dahlmann arrives in Tampeche, Mexico, looking for guide Dave Hollister. After finding Dave’s younger brother and partner Matt at a local bar, Carol states that she wishes to search for her husband, Howard Dahlmann, who disappeared in the local jungles weeks earlier. Matt explains the futility of such an expedition as the rainy season is about to begin. When Dave arrives and also declines, Carol offers to pay any price, as her husband owns the Dahlmann Chemical Company. Carol explains that Howard, a science enthusiast, did not accept reports that the satellite was destroyed and, using his own calculations, determined to locate it, hoping that its remains might substantiate his belief in alien life. With no report from her husband in weeks, Carol hopes to find him, using only his map as a guide. Skeptical, Dave again refuses, suggesting that Carol is really interested in proving that her missing husband is dead so she can legally claim his wealth. Although furious, Carol agrees with Dave’s offer to do the job for seven thousand dollars or a percentage of the estate if Howard is dead. Dave grudgingly allows Carol to accompany Matt and him, and they depart the following day using Howard’s map. After a day-long drive in sweltering heat, Dave learns from natives that there has been shift in the patterns of wild animal behavior within the jungle and ... +


Nine days after its launch, a satellite rocket inexplicably loses power and is presumed by scientists to have disintegrated after falling into the “flame barrier,” a protective zone two hundred miles above the earth. Some months later, wealthy Carol Dahlmann arrives in Tampeche, Mexico, looking for guide Dave Hollister. After finding Dave’s younger brother and partner Matt at a local bar, Carol states that she wishes to search for her husband, Howard Dahlmann, who disappeared in the local jungles weeks earlier. Matt explains the futility of such an expedition as the rainy season is about to begin. When Dave arrives and also declines, Carol offers to pay any price, as her husband owns the Dahlmann Chemical Company. Carol explains that Howard, a science enthusiast, did not accept reports that the satellite was destroyed and, using his own calculations, determined to locate it, hoping that its remains might substantiate his belief in alien life. With no report from her husband in weeks, Carol hopes to find him, using only his map as a guide. Skeptical, Dave again refuses, suggesting that Carol is really interested in proving that her missing husband is dead so she can legally claim his wealth. Although furious, Carol agrees with Dave’s offer to do the job for seven thousand dollars or a percentage of the estate if Howard is dead. Dave grudgingly allows Carol to accompany Matt and him, and they depart the following day using Howard’s map. After a day-long drive in sweltering heat, Dave learns from natives that there has been shift in the patterns of wild animal behavior within the jungle and that several are dying without explanation. The following day, Dave, Matt and Carol arrive at an abandoned native village and Dave declares that they cannot continue without porters as the rest of the journey will be made on foot. Just then, two Indian brothers arrive and plead for help in rescuing a fellow tribesman. Dave and Matt assist the Indians, who then agree to serves as porters, but refuse to explain why the village was abandoned. In the middle of the next day’s journey, the group comes across a skeleton, which disturbs Carol and the Indians. After setting up camp that evening, Carol tells a sympathetic Matt that she is certain that the skeleton is Howard’s, but Dave returns to say he has identified it as that of a native who was mysteriously burned. After Carol then confesses to Dave that part of her motivation for the search was guilt over her strained marriage, Dave is more understanding. That evening, when thunder and lightning spark the sky, the Indians run away. Dave saves Carol from a poisonous snack attack, then expresses concern about their ability to continue without the porters. Late that night Carol awakens to find Dave and Matt helping the two brothers carry the third native, who is severely burned. Before dying, the Indian says he was touched by the god of fire. The group is startled when the Indian’s body sizzles and evaporates, and one of the brothers flees in terror. The group decides to continue the search, and at last locate scorch marks near where Howard’s map indicates he believes the satellite came down. A short distance from the marks, Dave discovers an abandoned campsite and a chimpanzee in one of the tents. Carol excitedly affirms that the satellite was carrying a chimp. When the group finds a tent full of equipment, including a solar panel, Carol recognizes the material as belonging to Howard. Dave discovers a number of tapes which are barely audible, and all are startled when there is a strange power surge. The remaining Indian shows Dave beads that belonged to his brother and, leading him to a cave, a skeleton that he claims was his brother. The Indian declares the fire god lives within the cave and runs off. Dave, Matt and Carol investigate the cave and come across the remains of the satellite, with a strange mass surrounding it. Carol is horrified when she sees Howard frozen within the mass. A few feet from the mass the chimpanzee, who has accompanied the group, is vaporized and another power fluctuation occurs. Returning to the campsite, Dave pours over Howard’s tapes and gradually learns that the mass flowing from the satellite is alive and doubling at a continuous rate, which Dave calculates as every two hours, coinciding with the power surges. The tapes further reveal that the organism emits a protective force field that causes fatal burns and that Howard believed the mass would continue to grow until it destroyed the Earth. Dave suspects that Howard’s compulsion to investigate trapped him within the mass. During another examination of the satellite Dave discovers that it is resting upon two veins of metal ore and decides to try to send electricity through it using the solar panel. Racing against time before the next expansion of the mass, Dave plants the wires in one ore vein and Matt insists on setting up the other vein which is near the cave ceiling. Although Matt is unable to get down in time, he insists Dave close the circuit and, when his brother refuses, throws himself onto the satellite and burns up. Dave hastily sets off the solar powered circuit, which successfully destroys the satellite and mass. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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