The Thing (1951)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Creature Film, Sci-Fi Horror  |   Release Date - Apr 27, 1951 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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To this day, film buffs argue about whether or not Howard Hawks, the credited producer for this low-budget sci-fi classic, actually directed it; if he didn't, Christian Nyby (who got sole screen credit) certainly learned the master's style very well indeed. With its rapid-fire, often overlapping dialogue, matter-of-fact presentation of scientific jargon, independent-minded women who can give as good as they get in an argument, and admiring but unglamorized portrayal of men in uniform working together, The Thing certainly feels like a Hawks movie, which is to say smarter and snappier than most B-movies of its day. More important, The Thing was one of the few films in the era of Guys In Rubber Monster Suits that understood that less can be more. We rarely get a good look at the mean-spirited invader terrorizing a military outpost in the Arctic wastes, but the results give the creature an air of threatening mystery more powerful than any explicit presentation. And while the premise -- a cognizant vegetable from another planet that feeds on human blood -- is absurdity itself, the film plays down its thematic incredulity in favor of a tense tale of isolated individuals who must come together to defeat an angry foe; it's elementary filmcraft, but well-executed and boasting fine work from a cast whose talent exceeded their fame.