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Does anybody else love "Them!"


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I LOVE the 50's Sci-Fi Classic "Them!" and I also love ALL the 50's Sci-Fi films, which include:

1) The Day the Earth Stood Still (Klaatu barada nikto!)

2) Forbidden Planet (Robby the Robot RULES!)

3) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (They're here already! You're next!)

4) The Thing from Another World (Watch the skies)

5) The War of the Worlds

6) It Came from Outer Space

7) Invaders from Mars

8) This Island Earth

9) It Conquered the World

 

Message was edited by: GangGreen65

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I too LOVE 50s SciFi. If you haven't seen "I Married A Monster From Outer Space", that's a must too. It also falls into the "Great Film, Worst Title" category! I think my favorites are "This Island Earth", "The Incredible Shrinking Man" and "When Worlds Collide".

 

I wish TCM would show more old science fiction. They just showed "The Brain That Wouldn't Die", but man, what a bad film - even for bad films!

 

I again plead with TCM (as I do every summer) to have Summer Sci Fi nights.

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Definitely in my top five. I'm glad it was filmed in black and white. I'm trying to imagine this in color but it ain't workin' for me. The opening (3D?) title in red is great though. I can imagine what The War Of The Worlds may have looked like in black and white, it would have lost a lot of it's magic though.

 

I read somewhere that Fess Parker's part got him the starring role as Walt Disney's Daniel Boone.

Walt was screening Them looking at James Whitmore for the part of Boone. Didn't get it. The rest is history.

 

Have you seen any other giant ant movies? There's one about a group of people taking a boat ride to an island being developed by some real estate outfit trying to sell them property that isn't really developed. The giant ants control the human inhabitants turning them into slaves to produce sugar at a local plant.

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THEM always gets my vote for watching. James Whitmore is top-notch, Edmund Gwynn, too. Fess Parker, as already cited here.

 

I love Olin Howland's "Make me a sergeant..." routine, and the tricky way they dispatch Fess to a few more weeks of, uh, silence. Really mean-! ha ha...

 

The film's opening is great, a testimonial to scene construction.

 

The desert, the radio'd report into the car, Whitmore and his soon-to-be-ex-Partner ("Wave bye bye, everyone!") find her, then head up to 'Gramps Johnson's place'. The disarray, the swinging overhead lamp in the darkness. Tremendous effect. The twisted rifle and then Gramps is discovered, Whitmore departs and we're treated to an unseen horror. Great construction.

 

Lesson 1 in "Hook, line and sinker" theory. Can anyone leave after THAT opening sequence?

 

William Shallert is the ambulance driver that, along with Whitmore, are distracted by the ant-sound that rouses the little girl upright from the gurney. He's another in a long line of familiar faces that filled '40s, '50s and '60s screens but I've only recently collected their names. Thanks, Shallert, for decades of solid support work. His IMDB credits rival Charles Lanes', starting from 1947 and he's still working. THANK YOU!!

 

THEM has a great list of supporting cast, including Leonard Nimoy, Fess, Olin, and many others. It's always great to watch it and pick out some other familiar, overlooked face in the background.

 

I won't consider this a David Lean-esque epic, but it's always been a great viewing experience for me.

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To Ollie T: Great posting! You seem to know EVERYTHING about "Them!". Watch for a cameo by Richard Deacon (Lumpy Rutherford's dad on "Leave It to Beaver") as a reporter about an hour into the movie! I just discovered that they sell "Them!" mouse pads on ebay! COOL!

 

Message was edited by: GangGreen65

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The film is still work because the insane premise is played straight. Giant ants in color would have looked silly- but the excellent black and white photography adds a sense of realism. The brilliant script slowly creates terror- that eerie sound is nightmare inducing.

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This film is a great testimony to really awful special-FX AND the subsequent willingness of its fans to suspend all criticism of that facet - but we still enjoy the film. In fact, the goofy/awful Ants add a whole dimension to the film's appeal - they take us on a rollercoaster of fear (as set up by the opening scene) into the cavern of camp and laugh-inspired pointing. These weren't great effects even at the time, but that doesn't detract from the film's appeal.

 

How can that be? I dunno. We have a lot of slick CGI crap on screens for the last few decades, and I can't name any of those that are more entertaining than THEM. And in 50 years? I have a feeling thousands of great CGI effects-based films will be long forgotten, but Whitmore, Arness and some silly cable-tugging FX guys will still have a film with a strong fanbase.

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I have love this movie for years, campy and all. I have tried many times to get others to watch but they just don't get it. Everyone wants big explosions, I think we should all step back and see how it really can be done.

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How many Monster Techniques are there?

 

1. Stop Action Models - see Ray Harryhausen, Willis O'Brien and some Tim Burton's work.

2. Marionettes, like the ants in THEM, or Mothra, or the goofy GIANT CLAW turkey or REPTILICUS;

3. Costumed-garbed actors, like Godzilla, Gorgo, etc.

4. Live creatures like lizards in JOURNEY TO CENTER OF EARTH, or grasshoppers in BEGINNING OF END, or GIANT GILA MONSTER, sometimes with glued-on additions;

5. And of course CGI and other cartoons.

 

While I tend to degrade the marionette style, when I see BEGINNING OF END or GIANT GILA MONSTER, I think THEM's ants are the better option.

 

I bring this up because of the "cartoons can't act, the stories must deliver" comment. My favorite monster movies get their memorable moments not from the quality of the monsters, but depend on the tale, scenes and characters. Just like every other film.

 

(Is that true? When I think of Telos and the grandness of scale used by Harryhausen and the cinematographer as Telos first comes alive, THAT is an amazing scene that is almost solely due to the model used and the camera work. And the sound effects. I give that scene top marks because of their decisions, and it has nothing to do with story, characters, etc. Much like I do when the giant ant appears over Joan Weldon in the desert. A great scene, achieving a memorable effect again because of a low-angle camera shooting upward to deliver scale.)

 

Of course, when I consider watching the giant gila monster slide down a loose-dirt incline, those filmmaker decisions do NOT make a good memorable scene. Seeing grasshoppers blown up out of scale and overlaying building shots... groan. Those achieve a 'memorable' affect, sort of like the flu, though.

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There is no doubt that crappy fx work can ruin an otherwise promising movie " The Giant Claw" (1957) effective until that ridiculous flying bird puppet shows up on screen. The ants in " Them" might seem primitive but they are very well use and like I said before that creepy sound is what really makes them scary.

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We have a whole series of DVDs we can play on Saturday or Sunday when the weather is bad and we feel like watching some fun Sci/Fi and horror movies - they include

 

Them

Monolith Monsters

Tarantula

When Worlds Collide

it Came from Beyond Space

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Monster that Challenged the World

Various Godzilla movies

The Blob The original

The Thing

 

And so on.

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> {quote:title=joefilmone wrote:}{quote}

> There is no doubt that crappy fx work can ruin an otherwise promising movie " The Giant Claw" (1957) effective until that ridiculous flying bird puppet shows up on screen. The ants in " Them" might seem primitive but they are very well use and like I said before that creepy sound is what really makes them scary.

 

By the same token, great FX alone do not a classic make, as many recent productions attest.

A great part of the appeal of THEM! lies with the plotting and the appeal the characters have for the audience...

 

SPOILER ALERT

 

...as, for instance, in the case of the death of James Whitmore in the film's climax, which seems so much more tragic because he is a genuinely likeable and appealing character..

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Nightwalker, "likeable" says a ton. I "like" the first cop, left behind at Gramps' place. Gramps himself sounds like a nice guy.

 

Arness is the real stinker of the lot. First, he cuts off Whitmore as he clearly guns his engine for Joan Weldon. Then, he and Joan trick Fess Parker and leave him penned up.

 

That gives James Arness a clear shot at getting his TV show started the very next year, and all Fess Parker can do is get some temp jobs with Disney and finally, ten years later, he finally tricks Ed Ames to joining him on the small screen.

 

That darned Arness...

 

Well, at least Olin Howland got out, and didn't have to join the army!

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  • 1 month later...

I Love "Them!"

 

I think it is the best Film Noir Sci-Fi ever. You can't touch the acting and like The Day the Earth Stood Still never re-create it.

 

Why is the best Sci-Fi films are actually detective films. Whodunnits or better yet Whatdunnit!

 

My best blooper in the film is just before the end in the LA sewers and THEM attack you can see a half an ant on the right being operated by a tech.

 

It is amazing that James Arness made it into two classic Sci-fi films of all time.

 

The Thing from Another World, and, Them!

 

L8r

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  • 5 weeks later...

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