The War of the Worlds (1953 film)

The War of the Worlds (1953 film)

Overview
The War of the Worlds is a 1953 science fiction film
Science fiction film
Science fiction film is a film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of phenomena that are not necessarily accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception, and time travel, often along with futuristic...

 starring Gene Barry
Gene Barry
Gene Barry was an American stage, screen, and television actor. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City and The War of The Worlds and for his portrayal of the title character in the TV series Bat Masterson, among many roles.-Personal life:Barry was born...

 and Ann Robinson
Ann Robinson
Ann Robinson is an American actress and stunt horse rider, perhaps best known for her work in the film, The War of the Worlds and in the 1947 to 1970 radio and television series, Dragnet, in which she starred opposite Jack Webb....

. It was the first on-screen loose adaptation of the H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 classic novel of the same name
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds is an 1898 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells.The War of the Worlds may also refer to:- Radio broadcasts :* The War of the Worlds , the 1938 radio broadcast by Orson Welles...

. Produced by George Pal
George Pál
George Pal , born György Pál Marczincsak, was a Hungarian-born American animator and film producer, principally associated with the science fiction genre...

 and directed by Byron Haskin
Byron Haskin
Byron Conrad Haskin was an American film and television director. He was born in Portland, Oregon.He is remembered today for directing 1953's The War of the Worlds, one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal. In his early career, he was a special effects artist, with a number of...

 from a script by Barré Lyndon
Barré Lyndon
Barré Lyndon was a British playwright and screenwriter. The pseudonym was presumably taken from the title character of Thackeray's novel....

, it was the first of several adaptations of Wells's work to be filmed by Pal, and is considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s. It won an Oscar
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for its special effect
Special effect
The illusions used in the film, television, theatre, or entertainment industries to simulate the imagined events in a story are traditionally called special effects ....

s.

Following the opening credits
Opening credits
In a motion picture, television program, or video game, the opening credits are shown at the very beginning and list the most important members of the production. They are now usually shown as text superimposed on a blank screen or static pictures, or sometimes on top of action in the show. There...

, the film begins with a preamble
Preamble
A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subject of the statute...

 of illustrations by space artist Chesley Bonestell
Chesley Bonestell
Chesley Bonestell was an American painter, designer and illustrator. His paintings were a major influence on science fiction art and illustration, and he helped inspire the American space program...

 showing the planets of our Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

, over which a narrator (British actor Cedric Hardwicke
Cedric Hardwicke
Sir Cedric Webster Hardwicke was a noted English stage and film actor whose career spanned nearly fifty years...

) explains why the Martian
Martian
As an adjective, the term martian is used to describe anything pertaining to the planet Mars.However, a Martian is more usually a hypothetical or fictional native inhabitant of the planet Mars. Historically, life on Mars has often been hypothesized, although there is currently no solid evidence of...

s find Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 the only world worthy of invasion.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'The War of the Worlds (1953 film)'
Start a new discussion about 'The War of the Worlds (1953 film)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The War of the Worlds is a 1953 science fiction film
Science fiction film
Science fiction film is a film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of phenomena that are not necessarily accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception, and time travel, often along with futuristic...

 starring Gene Barry
Gene Barry
Gene Barry was an American stage, screen, and television actor. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City and The War of The Worlds and for his portrayal of the title character in the TV series Bat Masterson, among many roles.-Personal life:Barry was born...

 and Ann Robinson
Ann Robinson
Ann Robinson is an American actress and stunt horse rider, perhaps best known for her work in the film, The War of the Worlds and in the 1947 to 1970 radio and television series, Dragnet, in which she starred opposite Jack Webb....

. It was the first on-screen loose adaptation of the H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 classic novel of the same name
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds is an 1898 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells.The War of the Worlds may also refer to:- Radio broadcasts :* The War of the Worlds , the 1938 radio broadcast by Orson Welles...

. Produced by George Pal
George Pál
George Pal , born György Pál Marczincsak, was a Hungarian-born American animator and film producer, principally associated with the science fiction genre...

 and directed by Byron Haskin
Byron Haskin
Byron Conrad Haskin was an American film and television director. He was born in Portland, Oregon.He is remembered today for directing 1953's The War of the Worlds, one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal. In his early career, he was a special effects artist, with a number of...

 from a script by Barré Lyndon
Barré Lyndon
Barré Lyndon was a British playwright and screenwriter. The pseudonym was presumably taken from the title character of Thackeray's novel....

, it was the first of several adaptations of Wells's work to be filmed by Pal, and is considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s. It won an Oscar
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for its special effect
Special effect
The illusions used in the film, television, theatre, or entertainment industries to simulate the imagined events in a story are traditionally called special effects ....

s.

Plot synopsis


Following the opening credits
Opening credits
In a motion picture, television program, or video game, the opening credits are shown at the very beginning and list the most important members of the production. They are now usually shown as text superimposed on a blank screen or static pictures, or sometimes on top of action in the show. There...

, the film begins with a preamble
Preamble
A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subject of the statute...

 of illustrations by space artist Chesley Bonestell
Chesley Bonestell
Chesley Bonestell was an American painter, designer and illustrator. His paintings were a major influence on science fiction art and illustration, and he helped inspire the American space program...

 showing the planets of our Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

, over which a narrator (British actor Cedric Hardwicke
Cedric Hardwicke
Sir Cedric Webster Hardwicke was a noted English stage and film actor whose career spanned nearly fifty years...

) explains why the Martian
Martian
As an adjective, the term martian is used to describe anything pertaining to the planet Mars.However, a Martian is more usually a hypothetical or fictional native inhabitant of the planet Mars. Historically, life on Mars has often been hypothesized, although there is currently no solid evidence of...

s find Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 the only world worthy of invasion. As the potential inhabitability of the planet Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

 was still unknown by astronomers at that time, it was omitted from the list of planetary choices considered for colonisation by the Martians.

Wells' novel is updated to the early 1950s and the setting moved from the environs of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to southern California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. Dr. Clayton Forrester
Doctor Clayton Forrester (War of the Worlds)
Doctor Clayton Forrester is a fictional character in the 1953 science fiction film The War of the Worlds, the first film adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel of the same name. The character is played by Gene Barry...

 (Gene Barry
Gene Barry
Gene Barry was an American stage, screen, and television actor. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City and The War of The Worlds and for his portrayal of the title character in the TV series Bat Masterson, among many roles.-Personal life:Barry was born...

), a scientist and veteran of the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

, is fishing with colleagues when a large meteor
METEOR
METEOR is a metric for the evaluation of machine translation output. The metric is based on the harmonic mean of unigram precision and recall, with recall weighted higher than precision...

 comes crashing to earth, near the town of Linda Rosa. At the impact site, he meets Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson
Ann Robinson
Ann Robinson is an American actress and stunt horse rider, perhaps best known for her work in the film, The War of the Worlds and in the 1947 to 1970 radio and television series, Dragnet, in which she starred opposite Jack Webb....

) and her uncle, Pastor Dr. Matthew Collins (Lewis Martin). The meteor
METEOR
METEOR is a metric for the evaluation of machine translation output. The metric is based on the harmonic mean of unigram precision and recall, with recall weighted higher than precision...

 appears to have slid in and seems curiously lighter than normal for its large size; it is also slightly radioactive and still too hot to examine closely. Forrester ponders these anomalies and decides to wait in town overnight for it to cool down.

Later that evening, a round hatch on top of the meteor slowly begins to unscrew; a pulsing mechanical cobra-shaped head emerges, supported by the long neck of a Martian
Martian (War of the Worlds)
The Martians, also known as the Invaders, are the fictional race of extraterrestrials from the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. They are the antagonists of the novel, and their efforts to exterminate the populace of Earth and claim the planet for themselves drive the plot and present...

 war machine. When the three men who remained at the site to keep guard approach in friendly greeting, waving a white flag, the cobra head fires on them without provocation with a heat-ray
Heat-Ray
The Heat-Ray is the primary offensive weapon used by the Martians in H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds and its offshoots.- In the novel :...

, vaporizing them and destroying a large electrical tower nearby, which knocks out the power in Linda Rosa. In town, with the power out, Dr. Forrester discovers that his and other people's wrist watches have stopped running at the same time; his compass also points away from magnetic north and toward the location of the fallen meteor. Forrester and the sheriff go to investigate and are attacked by the heat-ray. Both manage to survive and raise the alarm.

Amid reports that other meteor-ships are landing throughout the world, the Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 surround the original landing site. Three large copper-colored, Manta Ray
Manta ray
The manta ray is the largest species of the rays. The largest known specimen was more than across, with a weight of about . It ranges throughout waters of the world, typically around coral reefs...

-shaped war machines rise from their ground fog shrouded gully and begin to slowly advance. Pastor Collins approaches them, reciting the seventh psalm, his Bible held up high as a sign of peace and goodwill; the Martians spot him and fire, disintegrating him instantly with their heat-ray. The Marine force immediately opens fire with everything in their arsenal, but each war machine is protected by an impenetrable force field
Force field
A force field, sometimes known as an energy shield, force shield, or deflector shield is a concept of a field tightly bounded and of significant magnitude so that objects affected by the particular force relating to the field are unable to pass through the central axis of the field and reach the...

. The Martians then use their heat- and disintegrator ray
Disintegrator ray
In science fiction, a disintegrator ray is an energy beam that destroys an object by disintegrating it to its basic components, which usually disperse into the atmosphere. Ray gun is the generic term for the weapons that fire disintegrator beams...

s to send the rest of the military force into full retreat.

Forrester and Van Buren escape the carnage in a small military spotter plane, but later crash land, just barely avoiding colliding with other Martian war machines now on the move. They eventually hide in an abandoned farmhouse, but are trapped inside when another meteor-ship comes crashing down nearby. Later, a Martian electronic eye on a long, flexible cable from a hovering war machine inspects the ruined house's interior, but fails to initially spot them. When a lone Martian later confronts them, Forrester wounds it with an axe; Forrester takes a sample of Martian blood and then smashes the returned electronic eye with the axe, taking its undamaged three-lensed camera housing. The hovering war machine blasts the farmhouse after Van Buren and Forrester have made their escape. They eventually are able to rejoin Forrester's co-workers at Pacific Tech in Los Angeles. From the blood sample and the electronic eye's optics
Optics
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

, the scientists make deductions about Martian eyesight and physiology, in particular that they are physically weak and have anemic blood.

In a desperate bid to stop the invaders, a United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 YB-49 Flying Wing bomber drops an atomic bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 on three war machines, but it has no effect, due to their protective force fields; the Martians continue their advance and the government orders an immediate evacuation. The Pacific Tech group must now come up with something, because they estimate the Earth can now be conquered in just six days. As they evacuate, widespread panic among the general populace scatters the Pacific Tech group personnel; a mob steals their trucks and wrecks their equipment, and in the chaos Forrester and Van Buren are separated.

All seems lost; humanity is helpless against the advancing Martians. Forrester searches for Van Buren in the burning ruins of Los Angeles, now under attack. He remembers something she told him, and he eventually finds her in a church with other refugees, awaiting the end. An approaching war machine suddenly crashes into a building down the street. Then another one falls nearby. Forrester soon discovers that the seemingly all-powerful invaders are dying. As in H. G. Wells' novel, the Martians have no biological defenses against the Earth's virus
Virus
A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

es and bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

. The smallest creatures that "God in His wisdom had put upon this Earth
Divine Providence
In Christian theology, divine providence, or simply providence, is God's activity in the world. " Providence" is also used as a title of God exercising His providence, and then the word are usually capitalized...

" has saved mankind from extinction.

Cast



  • Gene Barry
    Gene Barry
    Gene Barry was an American stage, screen, and television actor. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City and The War of The Worlds and for his portrayal of the title character in the TV series Bat Masterson, among many roles.-Personal life:Barry was born...

     as Dr. Clayton Forrester
    Doctor Clayton Forrester (War of the Worlds)
    Doctor Clayton Forrester is a fictional character in the 1953 science fiction film The War of the Worlds, the first film adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel of the same name. The character is played by Gene Barry...

  • Ann Robinson
    Ann Robinson
    Ann Robinson is an American actress and stunt horse rider, perhaps best known for her work in the film, The War of the Worlds and in the 1947 to 1970 radio and television series, Dragnet, in which she starred opposite Jack Webb....

     as Sylvia van Buren
  • Les Tremayne
    Les Tremayne
    Les Tremayne was a radio, film, and television actor. Born Lester Tremayne in England, he moved with his family at the age four to Chicago, where he began in community theatre. He danced as a vaudeville performer and worked as amusement park barker...

     as General Mann
  • Bob Cornthwaite
    Robert O. Cornthwaite
    Robert O. Cornthwaite was an American film and television character actor who began his acting career in 1937, appearing in a college production of Twelfth Night, while attending Reed College in Portland, Oregon....

     as Dr. Pryor
  • Sandro Giglio as Dr. Bilderbeck
  • Lewis Martin as Pastor Dr. Matthew Collins
  • Housely Stevenson Jr. as General Mann's aide
  • Paul Frees
    Paul Frees
    Paul Frees was an American voice actor and character actor.-Biography:He was born Solomon Hersh Frees in Chicago...

     as Radio reporter

  • Bill Phipps
    William Phipps
    William Edward "Bill" Phipps is a retired American actor and producer, perhaps best known for his roles in dozens of classic sci-fi and westerns, both film and television, from the late 1940s through the mid 1960s. From then, until his retirement in 2000, his work was mainly in...

     as Wash Perry
  • Vernon Rich as Colonel Ralph Heffner
  • Henry Brandon as Cop at crash site
  • Jack Kruschen
    Jack Kruschen
    Jack Kruschen was a Canadian-born character actor who worked primarily in American film, television and radio.-Radio:...

     as Salvatore
  • Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Voice of commentary/Narrator
  • Charles Gemora
    Charles Gemora
    Charles Gemora was a former Hollywood makeup artist renowned as "the King of the Gorilla Men" for his prolific appearances in many Hollywood films while wearing a gorilla suit.-Biography:...

     as the Martian
    Martian (War of the Worlds)
    The Martians, also known as the Invaders, are the fictional race of extraterrestrials from the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. They are the antagonists of the novel, and their efforts to exterminate the populace of Earth and claim the planet for themselves drive the plot and present...

  • Gertrude W. Hoffmann as Elderly Woman News Vendor (uncredited)


Production

  • The film opens with a prologue in black and white and switches to Technicolor
    Technicolor
    Technicolor is a color motion picture process invented in 1916 and improved over several decades.It was the second major process, after Britain's Kinemacolor, and the most widely used color process in Hollywood from 1922 to 1952...

     during the opening title sequence.

  • George Pal originally planned for the final third of the film to be shot in the new 3-D
    Stereoscopy
    Stereoscopy refers to a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by presenting two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer. Both of these 2-D offset images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of 3-D depth...

     process to visually enhance the Martians' attack on Los Angeles. The plan was dropped prior to actual production of the film, presumably being deemed too expensive.

  • World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     stock footage was used to produce a montage of destruction to show the worldwide invasion, with armies of all nations joining together to fight the invaders.

  • Wells had used the second half of his novel to make a satirical
    Satire
    Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

     commentary on civilization and the British class system. Lyndon did not incorporate that satire into the film's screenplay, but he did add a not-too-subtle religious subtext (in contrast to Wells original novel), to the point that the Martians begin to die shortly after blasting a couple of Los Angeles churches.

  • The disintegration effect took 144 separate matte paintings to create. The sound effects of the war machines' rays firing were created by mixing the sound of three electric guitar
    Electric guitar
    An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

    s being recorded backwards. The Martian's scream in the ruined farmhouse was created by a sound mix of a microphone scraping along dry ice being combined with a woman's scream recorded backwards.

  • The California city of Corona
    Corona, California
    Corona is a city in Riverside County, California, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 152,374, up from 124,966 at the 2000 census...

     was used as the shooting location for the town of "Linda Rosa".

  • St. Brendans Catholic Church, located at 310 South Van Ness Avenue in Los Angeles, was the setting used in the final scene where the desperate people of Los Angeles gathered to pray.

Special effects


A conscious effort was made to avoid the stereotypical "flying saucer" look of UFOs
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

. The Martian war machines (designed by Al Nozaki) were instead sinister-looking constructs shaped like manta ray
Manta ray
The manta ray is the largest species of the rays. The largest known specimen was more than across, with a weight of about . It ranges throughout waters of the world, typically around coral reefs...

s floating over the ground. Three Martian war machine props were made for the film out of copper. The same blueprints were used a decade later to construct the alien spacecraft in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a 1964 Techniscope science fiction film retelling of the classic novel by Daniel Defoe. It was directed by Byron Haskin, produced by Aubrey Schenck and starred Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin and Adam West...

(which Byron Haskin also directed) and was supposedly later melted down as part of a copper drive; The model that Forrest Ackerman had in his vast collection was actually a replica made from the "Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a 1964 Techniscope science fiction film retelling of the classic novel by Daniel Defoe. It was directed by Byron Haskin, produced by Aubrey Schenck and starred Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin and Adam West...

" blueprints; it was constructed by Ackerman's friends Paul and Larry Brooks.

Each machine was topped with an articulated metal arm, culminating in a cobra
Cobra
Cobra is a venomous snake belonging to the family Elapidae. However, not all snakes commonly referred to as cobras are of the same genus, or even of the same family. The name is short for cobra capo or capa Snake, which is Portuguese for "snake with hood", or "hood-snake"...

-like head, housing a single electronic "eye" that operated both like a periscope
Periscope
A periscope is an instrument for observation from a concealed position. In its simplest form it consists of a tube with mirrors at each end set parallel to each other at a 45-degree angle....

 and a weapon. The electronic eye housed the Martian "heat ray", pulsing, peering around and firing beams of red sparks, all accompanied by thrumming and a high-pitched clattering shriek when the ray was fired. The distinctive sound effect
Sound effect
For the album by The Jam, see Sound Affects.Sound effects or audio effects are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media...

 of the weapon was created by the orchestra performing the musical score, mainly through the use of violins and cellos. For many years, it was utilized as a standard "ray-gun" sound on children's television shows and the sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits
The Outer Limits (1963 TV series)
The Outer Limits is an American television series that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965. The series is similar in style to the earlier The Twilight Zone, but with a greater emphasis on science fiction, rather than fantasy stories...

, particularly the episode "The Children of Spider County".

The machines also fired a green ray (referred to as a "skeleton beam") from their wingtips, generating a distinctive sound and exposing the interior of its target (in the case of humans, their skeletons became briefly visible) before disintegrating it. This latter weapon seems to have been substituted for the chemical weapon
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 black smoke
Black smoke
The black smoke, or black powder is a fictional poisonous gas in H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, used by the Martians to eliminate groups of humans remotely, especially artillery crews, before they could fire. The rockets from which they explode are fired from a "black...

 described in the novel. The sound effect (created by striking a high tension cable with a hammer) was reused in Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

, accompanying the launch of photon torpedos. Another prominent sound effect made by the machines is a chattering, synthesized echo, perhaps representing some kind of alien sonar
Sonar
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

, that has best been described as the sound of electronic rattlesnakes.

Much effort was put forth to recreate the tripods
Tripod (The War of the Worlds)
Tripods or fighting-machines are a type of fictional three-legged walker from the H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, used by Martians to invade Earth.-Novel:...

 of the novel; but they proved problematic for various reasons and it was eventually decided to make the machines float on three invisible, electronic legs instead. To show their existence, rays were to be shown directly under the hovering Martian war machines as they move along – however, in the final film, these only appear when the military and Dr Forrester first see one of the machines. It proved too difficult to mark out the invisible legs when smoke and other effects also had to be seen beneath the machines. In several scenes, however, the invisible leg beams create fires on the ground at their three tripod points of ground contact.

The machines could also deploy a probe that extended from the belly of the craft on a long cable, tipped with another electronic eye.

Response


The War of the Worlds had its official premiere
Premiere
A premiere is generally "a first performance". This can refer to plays, films, television programs, operas, symphonies, ballets and so on. Premieres for theatrical, musical and other cultural presentations can become extravagant affairs, attracting large numbers of socialites and much media...

 in Hollywood on February 20, 1953, although it did not go into general theatrical release until the autumn of that year. The film was both a critical and box office
Box office
A box office is a place where tickets are sold to the public for admission to an event. Patrons may perform the transaction at a countertop, through an unblocked hole through a wall or window, or at a wicket....

 success. It accrued US$ 2,000,000 in distributors'
Film distributor
A film distributor is a company or individual responsible for releasing films to the public either theatrically or for home viewing...

 domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals, making it the year's biggest science fiction film hit.

The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

review noted the film was "an imaginatively conceived, professionally turned adventure, which makes excellent use of Technicolor, special effects by a crew of experts and impressively drawn backgrounds...Director Byron Haskin, working from a tight script by Barre Lyndon, has made this excursion suspenseful, fast and, on occasion, properly chilling". "Brog" in Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

felt it was "a socko science-fiction feature, as fearsome as a film as was the Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

 1938 radio interpretation...what starring honors there are go strictly to the special effects, which create an atmosphere of soul-chilling apprehension so effectively audiences will actually take alarm at the danger posed in the picture. It can't be recommended for the weak-hearted, but to the many who delight in an occasional good scare, it's sock entertainment of hackle-raising quality".

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning in the category Special Effects.
  • Film Editing
  • Special Effects
  • Sound Recording (Loren L. Ryder
    Loren L. Ryder
    Loren L. Ryder was an American sound engineer. He was nominated for 14 Academy Awards in the categories Best Sound Recording and Best Effects.-Selected filmography:Best Sound* Wells Fargo...

    )


American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 Lists
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
    • Martians - #27 Villains
  • AFI's 10 Top 10
    AFI's 10 Top 10
    AFI's 10 Top 10 honors the ten greatest American films in ten classic film genres. Presented by the American Film Institute , the lists were unveiled on a television special broadcast by CBS on June 17, 2008....

     - Nominated Science Fiction Film

Cultural relevance

  • The 1988 War of the Worlds TV series
    War of the Worlds (TV series)
    War of the Worlds is a television program that ran for two seasons, from 1988 to 1990. The series is an extension of the original 1953 film The War of the Worlds, using the same War Machine, often incorporating aspects from the film, radio adaptation, and original novel into its mythology.Though...

     is essentially a sequel to this film and employs several elements from the film, including having Ann Robinson
    Ann Robinson
    Ann Robinson is an American actress and stunt horse rider, perhaps best known for her work in the film, The War of the Worlds and in the 1947 to 1970 radio and television series, Dragnet, in which she starred opposite Jack Webb....

     reprise her role as Sylvia Van Buren in three episodes. Robinson also quasi-reprised her role in two later films, first as Dr. Van Buren in 1988's Midnight Movie Massacre and as Dr. Sylvia Van Buren in 2005's The Naked Monster.

  • In the 1999 animated film The Iron Giant
    The Iron Giant
    The Iron Giant is a 1999 animated film produced by Warner Bros. Animation, based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. Brad Bird directed the film, which stars a voice cast of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., Vin Diesel, Eli Marienthal, Christopher McDonald and John Mahoney...

    , the giant robot, when transformed into weapons mode, sprouts three Cobra-like heads that are clearly modeled on the articulated heat-ray periscopes of Pal's war machines; the robot's arrival on a meteor-like spacecraft is also similar.

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Mystery Science Theater 3000 is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc., that ran from 1988 to 1999....

    named one of its lead characters Dr. Clayton Forrester
    Doctor Clayton Forrester (MST3K)
    Dr. Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester is a fictional character on the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 . Named for the hero of the 1953 film The War of the Worlds, Dr. Forrester was the chief mad scientist on the show from its inception in 1988 through the seventh season in 1996, and...

     in a homage to the film. Ironically (and perhaps intentionally so for humor), the series' Forrester is a mad scientist
    Mad scientist
    A mad scientist is a stock character of popular fiction, specifically science fiction. The mad scientist may be villainous or antagonistic, benign or neutral, and whether insane, eccentric, or simply bumbling, mad scientists often work with fictional technology in order to forward their schemes, if...

    .

  • In Independence Day
    Independence Day (film)
    Independence Day is a 1996 science fiction film about an alien invasion of Earth, focusing on a disparate group of individuals and families as they converge in the Nevada desert and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance counterattack on July 4 – the same...

    (1996
    1996 in film
    Major releases this year included Scream, Independence Day, Fargo, Trainspotting, The English Patient, Twister, Mars Attacks!, Jerry Maguire and a version of Evita starring Madonna.-Events:...

    ), the alien antagonists are defeated in part by infecting the mothership with a computer virus
    Computer virus
    A computer virus is a computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. The term "virus" is also commonly but erroneously used to refer to other types of malware, including but not limited to adware and spyware programs that do not have the reproductive ability...

    . There are also several other references to Pal's film: the failed attempt to use an atomic bomb, dropped by the YB-49 Flying Wing, built by the Northrop Corporation
    Northrop Corporation
    Northrop Corporation was a leading United States aircraft manufacturer from its formation in 1939 until its merger with Grumman to form Northrop Grumman in 1994. The company is known for its development of the flying wing design, although only a few of these have entered service.-History:Jack...

    , is instead replaced with an H-Bomb being dropped by a Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit
    B-2 Spirit
    The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is an American heavy bomber with low observable stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty -class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen ...

     flying wing stealth bomber; a downed streetlight twisted into the shape of a gooseneck echoes the original Pal war machines' cobra heads and neck extensions; and Captain Hiller being based in El Toro, CA, which Dr. Forrester mentions in Pal's film as being the home of the Marines who make the first assault on the invading Martians.

  • Tim Burton
    Tim Burton
    Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

    's 1996 Mars Attacks!
    Mars Attacks!
    Mars Attacks! is a 1996 American science fiction film directed by Tim Burton and based on the cult trading card series of the same name. The film uses elements of black comedy, surreal humour, and political satire, and claims to be also a parody of multiple science fiction B movies...

    was a more humorous treatment, loosely based upon the original story, but more directly adapted from Topps
    Topps
    The Topps Company, Inc., manufactures chewing gum, candy and collectibles. Based in New York, New York, Topps is best known as a leading producer of baseball cards, football cards, basketball cards, hockey cards and other sports and non-sports themed trading cards.-Company history:Topps itself was...

    ' famous 1962 trading card
    Trading card
    A trading card is a small card, usually made out of paperboard or thick paper, which usually contains an image of a certain person, place or thing and a short description of the picture, along with other text...

     series. The film primarily spoofs 1950s alien invasion films, including The War of the Worlds. In this version, the Martians are repelled not by microorganisms, but by Slim Whitman
    Slim Whitman
    Ottis Dewey Whitman, Jr. , known professionally as Slim Whitman, is an American country music singer and songwriter, known for his yodelling abilities. He has sold in excess of 120 million albums in unit sales and has had numerous successful recordings...

    's yodeling
    Yodeling
    Yodeling is a form of singing that involves singing an extended note which rapidly and repeatedly changes in pitch from the vocal or chest register to the falsetto/head register; making a high-low-high-low sound.The English word yodel is derived from a German word jodeln meaning "to...

    , which causes their heads to explode.

  • Steven Spielberg
    Steven Spielberg
    Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

    's 2005 adaptation
    War of the Worlds (2005 film)
    War of the Worlds is a 2005 American science fiction film adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel of the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp. It is one of three film adaptations of War of the Worlds released that year, alongside The Asylum's version and...

     produced by Dreamworks
    DreamWorks
    DreamWorks Pictures, also known as DreamWorks, LLC, DreamWorks SKG, DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC, DreamWorks Studios or DW Studios, LLC, is an American film studio which develops, produces, and distributes films, video games and television programming...

     and Paramount Pictures
    Paramount Pictures
    Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

    , though technically not a remake, does feature several references and homages to the original film: Gene Barry and Ann Robinson have cameo appearances near the end, and the invading aliens kept their three-fingered hands but are depicted as reptile-like, three-legged walking tripods. There is also a long, snake-like alien camera probe deployed by the invaders that visually inspects the interior of a farmhouse in much the same manner as in the 1953 film (which was, itself, similar to the event in the original Novel where one of the Martian's mechanical tentacles explores the interior of the collapsed house).

  • The Asylum
    The Asylum
    The Asylum is an American film studio and distributor which focuses on producing low-budget, usually direct-to-video productions. The studio has produced titles that capitalize on productions by major studios; these titles have been dubbed "mockbusters" by the press.-History:The Asylum was founded...

    's 2005 direct-to-DVD adaptation has just a few notable references to the Pal version: Inside the Martian's mouth, there are three "tongues" resembling the Martian fingers seen in the Pal film. The Asylum film also includes scenes of electrical equipment outtages after the aliens' arrive via meteors. As in the Pal film, refugees are seen hiding in the mountains (instead of hiding underground, as in the Wells novel).

  • The Asylum
    The Asylum
    The Asylum is an American film studio and distributor which focuses on producing low-budget, usually direct-to-video productions. The studio has produced titles that capitalize on productions by major studios; these titles have been dubbed "mockbusters" by the press.-History:The Asylum was founded...

    's direct-to-DVD film The Day the Earth Stopped
    The Day the Earth Stopped
    The Day the Earth Stopped is a 2008 direct-to-DVD science fiction film made by American studio The Asylum, directed by and starring C. Thomas Howell...

    , a "mockbuster
    Mockbuster
    A mockbuster is a film created with the apparent intention of piggy-backing on the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme and are often made with a low budget. Often these films are created to be released direct-to-video at the same time as the mainstream film reaches theaters or...

    " of the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still
    The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008 film)
    The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 2008 science fiction film, a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. The screenplay is based on the 1940 classic science fiction short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates, and the 1951 screenplay adaptation by Edmund H...

     features homages to numerous 1950s science fiction films, including War of the Worlds in the scene in which the United States military attempts to destroy one of the alien antagonists' war machines, only for it to emerge unharmed.

  • The name "Pacific Tech" ("Pacific Institute of Technology") has been referenced in other films and television episodes where directors/writers/producers wanted to depict a science-oriented university without using a real institution's name; these include the series Galactica 1980
    Galactica 1980
    Galactica 1980 is a science fiction television series, and a spin-off from the 1978–1979 series Battlestar Galactica. It was first broadcast on the ABC network in the United States from January 27 to May 4, 1980.-Development:...

    and the feature film Real Genius
    Real Genius
    Real Genius is a 1985 satirical comedy film directed by Martha Coolidge. The film's screenplay was written by Neal Israel, Pat Proft and Peter Torokvei. It stars Val Kilmer and Gabriel Jarret....

    .

  • On the commentary track of the Special Collector's DVD Edition of War of the Worlds, Ann Robinson and Gene Berry point out that the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker
    Woody Woodpecker
    Woody Woodpecker is an animated cartoon character, an anthropomorphic acorn woodpecker who appeared in theatrical short films produced by the Walter Lantz animation studio and distributed by Universal Pictures...

    is seen in a tree top, center screen, when the first Martian meteor-ship crashes through the sky near the beginning of the film. Woody's creator Walter Lantz
    Walter Lantz
    Walter Benjamin Lantz was an American cartoonist, animator, film producer, and director, best known for founding Walter Lantz Productions and creating Woody Woodpecker.-Early years and start in animation:...

    and George Pal were close friends. Pal tried to always include the Woody character, out of friendship and good luck, in many of his productions; in Pal's first feature Destination Moon
    Destination Moon (film)
    Destination Moon is an American science fiction feature film produced by George Pal, who later produced When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. Pal commissioned the script by James O'Hanlon and Rip Van Ronkel...

    a Woody Woodpecker short is an integral part in the film.

  • In the Cartoon Network
    Cartoon Network
    Cartoon Network is a name of television channels worldwide created by Turner Broadcasting which used to primarily show animated programming. The channel began broadcasting on October 1, 1992 in the United States....

    's series, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien (2011), one of the aliens seen, known as "Prisoner 775" and also "ChamAlien", have three triangular color eye lenses, the left being blue, the right red, and the top green; much like the three colored lenses on the Martian's cable-camera "eye" and on their own "face."

External links