It’s not Wells’ novel, but it’s a better adaptation than a lot of movies.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Gene Barry as Dr. Forrester

Ann Robinson as Sylvia

Les Tremayne as Maj. Gen. Mann

Barre Lyndon wrote the script, adapted from H. G. Wells’ novel.

Byron Hask directed.

George Pal produced.

Full cast and crew information is available from this IMDB page.

This DVD release includes both English and French language soundtracks.

Premise

Martians land on Earth, and they don’t feel like talking.

High Point

The retention of Wells’ ending.

Low Point

The creation of Sylvia’s character. All she does is scream, and provide a mostly unmotivated love interest for the hero.

The Scores

They took an original novel, and turned it into a pretty standard 50s horror flick. The result is not a particularly original film. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects were generally top of the line, for a movie made 51 years ago. Some of them should have been better back then though. For example, meteors were landing with trajectories that put them well beyond the flare of the crash, and stock footage of wildlife and aircraft didn’t match the time of day that the scenes were meant to occur in. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is H. G. Wells’ plot, with a love interest introduced, and a greater focus on the human resistance. In short, they shifted the main character into a more active role in attacking the Martians. In doing so, they stripped out the psychological elements of the attack, and left us with some pretty corny remnants of a true classic. I give it 3 out of 6.

The acting is pretty bad, even when the script is taken into consideration. Nobody was ever convincing. I give it 2 out of 6.

The emotional response may be tough to judge. If I were to view it in terms of the response the filmmakers intended, it rates a 1 or 2. If I were to rate it from the same perspective as one takes into Plan Nine from Outer Space or Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, it would do respectably. It is far from timeless. I give it 3 out of 6.

The production starts out strong, with some nice panning shots over the soldiers at base camp and so forth, and then gets into a 40 minute dreg of pretty standard stuff. The last 15 minutes pick back up, taking some long distance shots to establish a feeling of isolation and insignificance at the end drew near. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s fun to watch in the bad movie spirit, but it doesn’t hold up well enough over time to be watched as the filmmakers intended. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, The War of the Worlds receives 22 out of 42.