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Them!

Them! (1954) Movie Poster
USA  •    •  94m  •    •  Directed by: Gordon Douglas.  •  Starring: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, James Arness, Onslow Stevens, Sean McClory, Chris Drake, Sandy Descher, Mary Alan Hokanson, Don Shelton, Fess Parker, Olin Howland, Richard Bellis.  •  Music by: Bronislau Kaper.
        After several people in the New Mexico desert wind up missing or dead, including an F.B.I. agent and most of his family, police Sgt. Ben Peterson teams up with F.B.I. agent Bob Graham to find out what's causing the strange occurrences. They find send a strange print found at one of the crime scenes and it is sent to the Department of Agriculture. Doctor Harold Medford and his daughter Doctor Patricia Medford arrive and ask to be taken to the scene of some of the disappearances. When they get there they are shocked to find gigantic ants, whose mutations were caused by the first atomic bomb explosion nine years earlier. They manage to destroy the nest of ants, but not before two winged queen ants and a couple of drones have hatched and escaped the nest. Now it is a race against time to find the two queen ants before they can establish more nests and hatch more queens.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 3:18
 
 

Review:

Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Image from: Them! (1954)
Back in the 1950's, science fiction was the red-headed stepchild of the film industry, because it dealt with science, for one thing, which few people knew anything about, and it usually involved some kind of special effects, which were always expensive, even if they were hokey. Science fiction films were always thought to be 'B' movies, whereas even a bad Western would never be thought of as a 'B' film. This was a time when the world was changing faster than many people could cope with, and there was a sense that the world was in great danger. The advent of the nuclear bomb had created words that people did not know the meaning of, but of which they were terrified. Radiation, mutation, atomic pile, thermonuclear weapon. People were realizing that nuclear meant more than just bombs, that something which you could not see, smell, hear, or taste could kill in a matter of seconds, even though it might take months to die.

In this setting, a movie about mutated ants capable of destroying the world was very powerful. Because ants are a hive creature, they seem somehow different from most insects. And they have fascinated people for years, with their orderly nests. It was easy to believe that a colony in the area where the first atomic bomb was exploded could have been affected by the lingering radiation, and that the effect was giantism. And ants are the perfect monster, being capable of huge feats of strength for their size, with terrible mandibles ready to rend and tear, and packing a horrible stinger, which many people can remember hurting them.

'Them' does an excellent job of building the suspense, with mysterious happenings in otherwise normal settings. We see two future stars, James Arness and James Whitmore carrying this film with excellent acting. They are supported with a very believable performance by Joan Weldon, in the nearly unheard (at that time)of role of woman scientist. She is rendered authenticity by the character of her father, the nations leading myrmecologist. Myrma what? This film actually attempts to be scientific in its depiction of ants, pointing out that they have the strength for their size equivalent to a human having the strength of 12 men.

Edmund Gwenn makes a memorable portrayal of the elderly scientist, tops in his field, but facing something completely new, like talking on a radio. His performance as the slightly absent minded senior researcher brings several moments of laughter to an otherwise very serious film. He is not the only one we can laugh at, for Fess Parker appears in one of his earliest roles, playing the part of someone who is being held against his will because he saw something he can not believe.

This film is, in my opinion, one of the all time classics of science fiction, superbly made, well written, photographed carefully, and with quality acting. It does not need to rely on special effects, trick photography, or script non sequiturs. I think that it is likely to outlast most of that decades prolific output of science fiction, simply because it was never a 'B' movie.


Review by scootwhoman from the Internet Movie Database.