The Angry Red Planet (1960)

83 or 85 mins | Science fiction | 1960

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HISTORY

The film's working title was Invasion of Mars . With the exception of an opening title card bearing the name of releasing company American International Pictures, all of the credits, including the film's title, appear at the end of the story. The title card reading "The End" appears at the end of the credits, following an acknowledgment by Sino Productions of the cooperation of the United States Air Force; The Burroughs Corporation, electrodata division; the Paillard Corporation, distributors of Hasselblad cameras; Weber Aircraft Corporation, designers and manufacturers of ejection seats; and Avis Rent-a-Car System, which provided ground transportation.
       Ned Shielle was listed as the art director on the film's only HR production chart, but received the onscreen credit of "Set construction." According to a 20 Feb 1960 HR news item, producer Norman Maurer settled a lawsuit he had brought against Sino Productions "involving 5% participation on pic's profit." No additional details of the suit have been located.
       The Angry Red Planet was the first film to utilize a technique known as "Cinemagic," which created the effect of live actors being incorporated into animated scenes in a reverse negative effect. All of the outdoor sequences that take place on Mars exhibited the technique, which resulted in the illusion that everything on the planet, including its atmosphere, was in varying shades of red or deep pink. The technique also created the illusion that the sets and props were drawings, similar to the kind of drawings seen in comic books. As noted in a HR news item, just prior to the start of production, the film's budget ... More Less

The film's working title was Invasion of Mars . With the exception of an opening title card bearing the name of releasing company American International Pictures, all of the credits, including the film's title, appear at the end of the story. The title card reading "The End" appears at the end of the credits, following an acknowledgment by Sino Productions of the cooperation of the United States Air Force; The Burroughs Corporation, electrodata division; the Paillard Corporation, distributors of Hasselblad cameras; Weber Aircraft Corporation, designers and manufacturers of ejection seats; and Avis Rent-a-Car System, which provided ground transportation.
       Ned Shielle was listed as the art director on the film's only HR production chart, but received the onscreen credit of "Set construction." According to a 20 Feb 1960 HR news item, producer Norman Maurer settled a lawsuit he had brought against Sino Productions "involving 5% participation on pic's profit." No additional details of the suit have been located.
       The Angry Red Planet was the first film to utilize a technique known as "Cinemagic," which created the effect of live actors being incorporated into animated scenes in a reverse negative effect. All of the outdoor sequences that take place on Mars exhibited the technique, which resulted in the illusion that everything on the planet, including its atmosphere, was in varying shades of red or deep pink. The technique also created the illusion that the sets and props were drawings, similar to the kind of drawings seen in comic books. As noted in a HR news item, just prior to the start of production, the film's budget was raised from $250,000 to $500,000.
       According to an AMPAS information sheet submitted by Sino Productions for Academy Awards consideration in the category of Visual Effects, Cinemagic, which was developed by Maurer, was "a printing process employing the use of special optical equipment" that required "four separate printings to produce the final Cinemagic negative." Contemporary reviewers did not praise the technique, which most termed another science fiction "gimmick" being promoted by producer Sid Pink, who earlier had been the associate producer of the 1953 3-D film Bwana Devil (see above).
       The AMPAS information sheet also stated that the miniatures used in the film all were based on Maurer's sketches and incorporated latex and stay-foam plastic with various coverings, including monkey fur for "the rat bat spider crab." According to a modern source, dwarf actor Billy Curtis was inside the suit of the Martian creature that menaced the rocket ship's crew. The same source indicates that American International picked up distribution rights to the film after its initial showings in Los Angeles. This is corroborated by the fact that preview reviews and the LAT review do not include American International in the credits. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Sep 1959
p. 518, 522.
Box Office
21 Dec 1959.
---
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 1959
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1959
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1959
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 1960.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Nov 1959.
---
Motion Picture Herald
12 May 1959.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Dec 1959
p. 507.
New York Times
5 May 1960
p. 41.
Variety
2 Dec 1959
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Still man
ART DIRECTOR
Cont sketches
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop man
Prop man
Set const
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Orig mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Cinemagic by
Prod under license granted by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Ground transportation
Chief pub
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Invasion of Mars
Release Date:
1960
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 23 November 1959
Los Angeles opening: 24 November 1959
New York opening: 4 May 1960
Production Date:
began 9 September 1959 at Hal Roach Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Sino Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 January 1960
Copyright Number:
LP20393
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman 5250
Lenses/Prints
Processed by Pathé Laboratories, Inc.; Cinemagic
Duration(in mins):
83 or 85
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19554
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Months after the experimental rocket ship MR-1 seems to have perished during its mission to Mars, signals are received from space, indicating that someone on the four-person crew may still be alive. Concerned for the safety of any survivors, and worried about possible radiation, Maj. Gen. George Treegar devises a cautious plan to bring MR-1 back to Earth. When the ship lands in the Nevada desert, the military personnel approach in protective suits until the sole woman on the MR-1 mission, Dr. Iris Ryan, opens the hatch. Although in shock, Iris guides medical personnel into the ship. They quickly leave, bearing a stretcher with a gravely ill man, the only other survivor of the mission, who has a hideous, gelatinous green growth on his arm. Later, at the Norwood Air Force Hospital, an exhausted Iris tells Dr. Frank Gordon and Treeger that she does not remember what happened. Hoping that by reliving the entire flight, she will be able to tell him more about the growth, which Gordon fears might prove dangerous to everyone on Earth, he asks her to recount everything, from the beginning: Days after MR-1’s launch, Iris and the other three members of the mission, Col. Tom O’Banion, Prof. Theodore Gettell and Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs, are happy that the flight has been so smooth and easily joke with one another about life in the rocket ship. Tom and Iris, who are attracted to each other, flirt, although each thinks that the other is not serious. The long flight is routine, and communications with Earth are uninterrupted, but Gettell worries about exterior radiation and other ... +


Months after the experimental rocket ship MR-1 seems to have perished during its mission to Mars, signals are received from space, indicating that someone on the four-person crew may still be alive. Concerned for the safety of any survivors, and worried about possible radiation, Maj. Gen. George Treegar devises a cautious plan to bring MR-1 back to Earth. When the ship lands in the Nevada desert, the military personnel approach in protective suits until the sole woman on the MR-1 mission, Dr. Iris Ryan, opens the hatch. Although in shock, Iris guides medical personnel into the ship. They quickly leave, bearing a stretcher with a gravely ill man, the only other survivor of the mission, who has a hideous, gelatinous green growth on his arm. Later, at the Norwood Air Force Hospital, an exhausted Iris tells Dr. Frank Gordon and Treeger that she does not remember what happened. Hoping that by reliving the entire flight, she will be able to tell him more about the growth, which Gordon fears might prove dangerous to everyone on Earth, he asks her to recount everything, from the beginning: Days after MR-1’s launch, Iris and the other three members of the mission, Col. Tom O’Banion, Prof. Theodore Gettell and Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs, are happy that the flight has been so smooth and easily joke with one another about life in the rocket ship. Tom and Iris, who are attracted to each other, flirt, although each thinks that the other is not serious. The long flight is routine, and communications with Earth are uninterrupted, but Gettell worries about exterior radiation and other potential hazards of the mission. As the weeks pass, Sam reads comic books about Mars and wonders when he will ever get to see the next issue, while Tom continues to flirt with Iris and Iris wonders whether or not space exploration is a good idea. On the 47th day of the mission, when the ship finally lands on Mars, they are eager for the new experience, but concerned because they cannot observe any movement through their observation window. Suddenly, Iris sees a huge creature and screams. In her hospital bed, Iris now screams at the memory and cannot go on with her recollections. As she sleeps, Treeger tells Gordon that they have recovered tape recordings made inside MR-1 but, so far, nothing is on them. As they ponder whether Iris is recalling memories or fears, Iris awakens and implores Gordon to give her something to force her to remember what happened: In MR-1, Iris tells Tom that the creature was horrible. He wonders if her perception was clouded, but decides that they should go outside, dressed in protective clothing. Tom orders everyone to stay within sight as they hesitantly venture onto the red Martian landscape. Curious about a strange vine, Iris follows it and is suddenly grabbed by the octopus-like creature. Tom, Sam and Gettell rush to Iris and, with machetes and Sam's ray gun, kill the creature. Iris and Gettell conclude that the creature was a carnivore, beyond normal plant life, with a neuromuscular formation. The next morning, after studying samples from the previous day, the group again leaves MR-1. When Iris cuts off a sample from one plant, it reveals itself to be a huge creature on stilt-like legs. Even Sam's ray gun has no effect, until Tom tells Sam to aim at its eyes, thus immobilizing it. After this encounter, the group sees a large lake but decides to explore it the following day. Inside the ship, after discussing the great dangers they have encountered, Tom and Gettell determine that they must abort the mission immediately. The rocket engines ignite, but the ship cannot lift off. Frustrated, Tom orders the engines cut to save fuel and surmises that there must be a powerful force preventing them from leaving. He calms the fears of the others and wonders what “they” want. Later Tom, Iris, Sam and Gettell go back to the lake, and as they paddle across, a huge, industrial city appears on the horizon. As they contemplate the strange sight, a giant monster arises from the sea. Realizing that they must return to the ship, the four paddle furiously to get away from the beast. When they get to the shore, they rush back to the ship, but as they scramble to open the hatch, Sam is enveloped by the strange, amoeba-like beast that has followed them from the lake. Soon the view from the observation window reveals that MR-1 has been enveloped by the amoeba. Some time later, as Iris, who had done experiments on amoebas, tries to discover a way to stop its growth, Tom’s arm, which brushed against it, begins to worsen. After Iris tells Tom and Gettell that electricity is the only thing that can stop the amoeba’s growth, Gettell determines a way to electrify the outer skin of the rocket ship while not endangering their own lives. The plan works, causing the creature to shrivel away. Just then the ship’s radio broadcasts a voice saying, “Red alert…we of the planet Mars give you this warning.” A short time later, the stress and exertion cause Gettell’s heart to give out, and he dies. With Sam and Gettell dead and Tom unconscious, Iris tries to determine what Gettell would have done with the ship’s wiring and looks out the window at the increasingly distant planet Mars. Awakening in her hospital bed, Iris cries, then faints after saying she cannot remember the rest of the warning. Because of clues in Iris’ recollections, Gordon deduces that Tom is suffering from an enzymatic infection and gives him an injection. A short time later, Treeger asks Iris if there is anything in her research that might help Tom, and she asks for access to a lab. Knowing that electricity must be the key, Iris concludes that the amoeba growing on Tom’s arm can be prodded with a mild electric shock to move onto a non-human host. The experiment works, and soon Tom and Iris are talking about their future. Treeger then tells them that the tape from MR-1 revealed the entire message from Mars. The message states that everything will be fine if the people of Earth stay on their own planet. It concludes with the words “Do not return to Mars. We can and will destroy you if you do not heed our warning.” +

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

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