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Target Earth (film)

Target Earth
File:Target Earth poster 1954.jpg
Directed by Sherman A. Rose
Produced by Herman Cohen
Screenplay by
  • James H. Nicholson
  • Wyott Ordung
  • William Raynor
Story by Paul W. Fairman
Starring
Music by Paul Dunlap
Cinematography Guy Roe
Edited by Sherman A. Rose
Production
company
Abtcon Pictures, Inc.
Distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation
Release dates
  • November 7, 1954 (1954-11-07)
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $85,000[1]

Target Earth is an independently made 1954 science fiction film produced by Herman Cohen, directed by Sherman A. Rose, starring Richard Denning, Kathleen Crowley, Virginia Grey and Whit Bissell. The film was distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation. Target Earth tells the story of a deserted Chicago and a small group of people who have been overlooked during a mass evacuation of "the city that never sleeps" because of a sudden invasion by hostile robotic beings from the planet Venus.

Plot

After a suicide attempt, Nora King (Kathleen Crowley) revives and discovers that her building has no electricity or water. When she wanders out into the street in Chicago, she realizes that she is in a deserted city. Stumbling over a dead women in the street, she encounters Frank Brooks (Richard Denning), another individual who has just recently come to his senses after being beaten in a robbery.

With her new companion, Nora continues to try to find others in the abandoned city. Hearing music from a restaurant, they come upon a couple, Jim Wilson (Richard Reeves) and Vicki Harris (Virginia Grey) who are drunk and admit they were not able to be evacuated with the rest of the city. The group then continues to search the streets, coming upon a car that will not start. Another survivor, Charles Otis (Mort Marshall) sees them at the car, and reveals that all the cars he has tried, have been disabled.

A growing apprehension takes over as the group begins to realize that they are alone with an unknown menace that has caused everyone to run away. Charles finds a newspaper in a hotel that proclaims that a "mystery army" is attacking the city, and in a panic, runs out into the street only to be killed by a death ray from a robot.

While attempting to defend the city, the military led by Lt. General Wood (Arthur Space] sets up a command post and although bombers are easily brought down, the use of atomic weapons are contemplated. A group of scientists including the chief research scientist (Whit Bissell) finally work on a captured robot to find out how to fight back. In trying to escape the robot attackers, the small group is joined by Davis (Robert Roark), a psychotic killer that has his own plans for survival. With danger all around, the group realizes that the enemy is both within their group and from outer space. Some deaths occur as the tiny band of survivors flee for their lives before an army unit arrives that can deal with the deadly robots.

Cast

Production

The screenplay for Target Earth is based on the 1953 science fiction short story "Deadly City" by Paul W. Fairman, which first appeared in the March 1953 issue of If magazine under Fairman's pseudonym, "Ivar Jorgensen".[1]

Principal photography began mid-July 1954 at Kling Studios, for a shooting schedule of a tight seven days that also included outdoor shooting. While set in Chicago, Target Earth was actually filmed in Los Angeles. Empty street scenes were filmed during early morning hours before normal traffic began. [2]

Casting

Actor Robert Roark was given a role because his father was a large investor in Target Earth.[1]

Even though a "robot army" is mentioned several times during the film, only one robot was constructed for the production, which was then used in all scenes to depict the invasion. When actor Steve Calvert, who played the robot, was not working on B films, he regularly worked as a bartender at Ciro's on the Sunset Strip. He also played the apes in Bride of the Gorilla (1951) and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952).[1]

Reception

Target Earth was a typical product of the sci-fi craze of the 1950s but could never rise above its low budget underpinnings.[3] One of the few notable aspects of the production was that the film was one of the first to explore the subgenre of alien invasions, following the success of The War of the Worlds (1953). Target Earth was also produced by Herman Cohen, making his producing debut, who would become one of the most prominent B movie producers of the 1960s.[4] Director Sherman A. Rose who was a prolific editor in both television and film, would go on to make only two other films.[5][Note 1]

TV Guide rated it 1/4 stars and wrote, "The robots are just plain disappointing."[5] David Maine of PopMatters rated it 6/10 stars and called it "a tight, engaging little thriller that focuses more on character than special effects."[7]

References

Notes

  1. Rose would direct Magnificent Roughnecks (1956) and Tank Battalion (1958).[6]

Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Stafford, Jeff. "Video Reviews: 'Target Earth'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 7, 2015.
  2. "Original print information: 'Target Earth'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 7, 2015.
  3. Weaver 1994, p. 69.
  4. Walker 1997, p. 94.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Target Earth." TV Guide. Retrieved: April 9, 2015.
  6. "Sherman A. Rose." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 16, 2015.
  7. Maine, David. "Don’t Open That Door! #33: 'Target Earth' (1954)." PopMatters, March 7, 2013. Retrieved: April 9, 2015.

Bibliography

  • Walker, John, ed. Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies (14th ed.). New York: HarperResource, 1997. ISBN 0-06-093507-3.
  • Weaver, Tom. "Herman Cohen Interview". Attack of the Monster Movie Makers: Interviews With 20 Genre Giants. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1994. ISBN 978-0-7864-9574-0.
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