August 13, 2018

1,001 LaserDiscs 4: The War of the Worlds (1953 film)

The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, front cover 
front cover movie still 
photo of cover by Styrous®


On August 13, 1953, one of the greatest science fiction films of all times, The War of the Worlds, was released in New York City. By today's standards the special effects for the film may be considered funky but back them they were mind-blowing!             


The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, back cover
back cover movie stills
photo of back cover by Styrous®

The story line of the film was completely different from that of the novel by H. G. Wells. The novel is set in Victorian England; the film is set in 1950's Los Angeles. Quite a shift in time and location but it worked magnificently!            


The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, front cover detail 
front cover movie still 
detail photo of cover by Styrous®


The film was directed by Byron Haskin and produced by George Pal who was also responsible for the special effects. Pal originally planned for the final third of the film to be shot in the new 3D process to visually enhance the Martian attack on Los Angeles. The plan was dropped prior to actual production of the film, presumably being deemed too expensive.   


The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, back cover detail
back cover movie stills
detail photo of back cover by Styrous®


The War of the Worlds starred Gene Barry, Ann Robinson and Les Tremayne; it was narrated by Sir Cedric Hardwicke (link to full cast and plot below).  

The Martian war machines (designed by Al Nozaki) were made to be sinister-looking machines shaped like manta rays floating above the ground. Three Martian war machine props were made out of copper for the film. The same blueprints were used a decade later to construct the alien spacecraft in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars, also directed by Byron Haskin; that film prop was later reported melted down as part of a scrap copper recycling drive.



The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, back cover detail
back cover movie stills
detail photo of back cover by Styrous®


The California city of Corona was used as the shooting location of the fictitious town of Linda Rosa. St. Brendan's Catholic Church, located at 310 South Van Ness Avenue in Los Angeles, California, was the setting used in the climactic scene.    



The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, back cover detail
back cover movie stills
detail photo of back cover by Styrous®

The composer of the film score, Leith Stevens, also composed two other scores for Pal productions: Destination Moon and When Worlds Collide.     





The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc, back cover detail
back cover movie stills
detail photo of back cover by Styrous®


The War of the Worlds won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and went on to influence other science fiction films. In 2011, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".        



The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc label, side 1
photo by Styrous®





The War of the Worlds (1953 film) 
LaserDisc label, side 2
photo by Styrous®

       


Viewfinder links:       
       
The War of the Worlds ~ Worlds on Film
Jeff Wayne ~ The War of the Worlds          
Jerzy Maksymiuk & J√≥zef Skrzek ~ The War of the Worlds        
The War of the Worlds ~ Orson Welles @ 100          
The War of the Worlds articles/mentions          
        
      
Net links:       
       
Plot     
Cast        
         
        
     
Styrous® ~ Monday, August 13, 2018       


     
      


















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