When Worlds Collide
Director: Rudolph Mate
When Worlds Collide is a classic science fiction yarn featuring the ultimate in doomsday scenarios. Produced by the legendary George Pal, the film paints a daring picture of mankind's struggle to survive the most impossible of fates. Drenched in tension and effective throughout, this masterful tale is hypnotic as the movie counts down to Earth's inevitable doom and focuses on the individual lives that cling to hope that somehow they will be saved. One for the record books, When Worlds Collide is definitely engaging classic sc-fi.
Richard Derr takes on the role of David Randall, a young charismatic pilot who gets caught up in the secret doomsday plot which spells the end of the Earth. Derr is great in the lead and his screen presence in the film is outstanding, even if his super morals are rather too just for modern audiences to stomach. The guy is a stand up straight shooter and he plays the role of the hero to a T. Quick witted and serving as the film's moral compass, the character of David Randall is a central fixture of the story, even though he's basically just caught up in these wild series of events. He's never a driving force in the film, rather a passenger that is just along for the ride, and in that aspect he does a commendable and interesting job in portraying the everyman.
The main movers of the movie are actually the scientists and entrepreneurs, the ones that are putting the work in to creating a rocket ship and blasting off to safety. Larry Keating plays the role of Dr. Cole Hendron, the main man behind the rocket ship program. Ridiculed by his peers and shunned by the masses, Keating gives his alienated scientist a caring demeanor, because even though Hendron is discredited by his fellow astronomers he still does his best in trying to convince people of the imminent threat that is heading their way. There is something endearing in that futile attempt and it gives Keating's character an added depth that helps us empathize with his plight and burden of knowing the truth. He is also portrayed as a caring father as he shows time and time again his respect and admiration for his daughter Joyce, played by the classically beautiful Barbara Rush.
Of course aside from the heroes of the piece, there is a sinister side to mankind and this is tremendously represented by the character Sydney Stanton, played by John Hoyt. The man is a true asshole, doing anything and all he can in claiming his place aboard the spaceship. He is a spineless jellyfish of a man, and interestingly enough the filmmakers chose to represent this character as a wheelchair-bound old man. As despicable as Stanton is, he does bring about the revelation that once the masses find out about their fate, they will do anything to survive. Sydney's presence allows the filmmakers to tap into the not so flattering side of humanity. Selfishness, greed and cowardice are all wrapped up in this one character, and Hoyt does an excellent job in conveying all of these despicable traits.
Stanton's traits are what I found most intriguing about the film, because on the whole, the movie focuses on the more positive aspects of the human race. It clings to that notion that we all can work together for the greater good, that is until the shit really begins to hit the fan and people reveal their true colors. Madness and mayhem spark as the closing moments of the movie begin to ramp up into a paranoid frenzy of epic proportions. The special effects and striking imagery of the last half of the film are excellent and it really rams home the horror of the ending of the Earth. As unsettling and earth-shattering as the conclusion is, there is a sliver of hope that creeps out from beneath the bedlam. One which asks the questions, are we able to start again or will we slowly delve back into the traits that almost resulted in the extinction of our species. Thought-provoking stuff, but that is what the best science fiction films are made of.
When Worlds Collide is a grand scale sci-fi flick which reveals a doomsday scenario that is absolutely epic, yet decides to focus on the intimate aspects of the end of the world and how it affects the individuals involved. It's exceptionally interesting because of its moral code and optimistic mind-set, but once the shadow of doom covers the picture, the underbelly of mankind's true nature is revealed and the outcome is naturally alarming. Expectantly dated and often silly because of this, the film doesn't allow the limitations of the era in which it was filmed to bog it down. Instead, it transcends because of its absorbing message, competent cast and truly outstanding effects.
Richard Derr gives a great performance as the lead, while Larry Keating makes for a believable scientists faced with the most unbelievable and life-threatening situation. Barbara Rush even packs in a stellar performance as Joyce Hendron, exuding that sweet and innocent vibe to perfection. Lastly, John Hoyt gives an excruciatingly great performance as the king of pricks Sydney Stanton. All in all, it's the combination of the film's epic storytelling, its wonderful cast of characters, and its outrageous effects work that truly make When Worlds Collide a classic showstopper. If you absolutely love 50's sci-fi, then you owe it to yourself to check this sweet little number out. This flick is.....
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