The War of the Worlds (1953)

#1 by Timothy Duncan ( deleted ) , Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:06 pm

This review is for "The War of the Worlds" (1953) 200' black & white/silent/subtitled reel distributed by Ken Films. The feature film was originally released in color and is considered a classic in the science fiction genre by many. This was a title that I set out early to find for my collection last year. I'm sure that many of you seasoned collectors own it as well. The reel begins with the titles 'WORLD WAR I', then actual war footage is shown to the audience. The same goes for the next set of titles, 'WORLD WAR II'. After those clips are shown, the title of the film comes onscreen. After the opening credits, the movie then begins with a bright light seen coming down out of the sky near a city and disappearing off into the distance. Shortly after it is discovered that the Earth has been invaded by aliens from outer space. The U.S. army is called in to deal with the invasion. Three ships are seen hovering over the battlefield, as a minister walks towards them in an attempt to make peaceful contact. As he nears the ships, a deadly beam comes from the ship and kills the minister off screen as his daughter witnesses it. The army then fires at the ships with every piece of battle equipment on hand to no avail, as there is now a force field around them. We see a lengthy battle scene between the army and the invaders. Everything hit with the death rays coming from the ships is literally vaporized, leaving some ash on the ground. The army retreats and we see a formation of war planes overhead. We cut to a slew of newspaper headlines reporting the invasion, followed by scenes of the spaceships slowly moving through a city. Still shooting the deadly rays at anything, the city is being set ablaze and destroyed. There is a scene of people taking safety within a church that falls in around them. A scene of a water tower being demolished is shown, as well as a skyscraper. The titles onscreen state "No weapon can stop them". The ships begin to slow down and fall out of the sky, crashing into buildings and such. A door at the bottom of one of the ships slowly opens and we see only an alien arm and hand moving slowly, indicating that the being is slowly dying. The next set of titles read "but human bacteria did", giving us revelation that the invaders could not survive in our environment. We see a shot of the remains of the Eiffel Tower, then see the final shot of another city at sunup. The last scene is our assurance that the war is over. This reel was nicely edited and contained great scenes from the film, especially the powerful visual shot of the door opening at the bottom of the ship, revealing just a glimpse of the alien life at war with the world. The subtitles were minimal and effective. They were easy to read, which is not always the case with subtitles I've encountered with Ken Films. My copy was purchased at the final selling price of U.S. $12.99 (I had a little bidding competition). I had to splice the film at an early point in the reel, but I can not detect where it is during projection. It's a keeper in my collection.

The following members like this: Vidar Olavesen and Oemer Yalinkilic
Timothy Duncan

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#2 by Vidar Olavesen , Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:25 pm

Wow, what a great in depth review of a 200'

Excellent work Timothy

Wish I had the feature on 16mm

Vidar Olavesen
Posts: 5.707
Points: 12.976
Date registered 08.02.2015
home: Sarpsborg, Norway
ThankYou 350

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#3 by Timothy Duncan ( deleted ) , Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:39 pm

Thanks Vidar! I wish I had the 400' color/sound reel(s) put out by Marketing Films!

Timothy Duncan

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#4 by Douglas Warren ( deleted ) , Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:48 pm

Nice review Tim and the 400' color/sound version of this is difficult to find.From what I understand it's very well edited so I guess collectors don't wish to let go of there copies.

Douglas Warren

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#5 by Oemer Yalinkilic , Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:35 pm

Nice review, I watched War of the Worlds first time in 1978 on TV and it is one of my favorite movies. I love 50´s SF movies.
In the 70´s I got a 200ft silent version of castle films War of the planets, I thought it can be War of the worlds but it was This Island Earth. I was happy because I like Island earth a little bit more.
Later I got 16mm IB prints of some 50´s SF movies (Island Earth, War of the Worlds and When Worlds collide). Today I have lot of them in 35mm, yes War of the Worlds in mint 35mm, not IB but on low fade film stock.
I like my Science Fiction collection, but belive me, as I was a child in the 70´s, to watch a silent Super 8 SF or Horror print on my silent projector, was much more fun.
many years ago I sold my 16mm IB print of War of the Worlds and I regret this, but still I have my 3x400 marketing color print. I got few years ago from my father in law his Super 8 collection and this was a part of them. I wished I had at this time contact to my wife to watch the cool collection of her father.

Oemer Yalinkilic  
Oemer Yalinkilic
Posts: 48
Points: 104
Date registered 08.17.2015
ThankYou 4

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#6 by Timothy Duncan ( deleted ) , Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:55 am

Thank you for your response. I am only a year into the hobby, so it's been fun as an adult experiencing what I didn't as a kid. I have enjoyed the silent/subtitled reels as well as the sound. Wow! A 35mm print of this? I can't imagine! Yes, hang on to that 3x400' super 8 print of this also. It doesn't come up for auction often and does probably command a high price. 50's sci-fi are just my cup of tea.

Timothy Duncan

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#7 by Paul Browning , Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:21 am

That's some revue Tim, one of my favourite 50 's sci fi and the day the earth stood still is another. I have the 3x400 ft marketing version too, its very well edited and flows
beautifully, you just can't tell, and does not loose any of the best bits or tension. I got lucky one day at Derann, it hasn't lost any of its colour either, must be on lpp. I can't
say I have seen this version, you learn something new all the time here.

Paul Browning  
Paul Browning
Posts: 1.264
Points: 2.304
Date registered 09.13.2015
ThankYou 181

RE: The War of the Worlds (1953)

#8 by Hugh Thompson Scott ( deleted ) , Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:18 am

After reading Tim's review of this little 200' B/W silent, there is no need to view it, he captures it so well. It's
been many years since I purchased that little 200', it was a prize, I sent it off to be striped, along with other
200's like "When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth", to record the soundtracks. I had discovered through the Ray Harryhausen
mag at the time, done by Ernie Farino,"FXRH", that tape soundtracks could be bought on tape. These were purchased and a nice
soundtrack, with a hell of a lot of patience was done to various films, including "War of the Worlds", I eventually gave them to my mates
son who was starting in 8mm, it seems like yesterday, but was 36 years ago, how time flies, we are just like bonfire sparks, momentary
then gone forever, anyway, not to be too maudlin, did you know that the full title "THE War of The Worlds" is still owned by Jeff Wayne
who recorded his famous album and still owns the rights to the title, he wouldn't sell to Spielberg for his remake, kudos to him. It would
be nice to see a true version of Wells novel in the country where the story was based, even though I love the '53 version, the recent one has great scenes, but based in modern times, as was the first, a picture of this great novel has yet to be made in period and situ , no doubt Jeff Wayne feels the same.

Hugh Thompson Scott
Last edited Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:23 am | Top


The Towering Inferno. 1 x 800ft colour sound
The Warriors 3 x 400ft Marketing olour Sound

disconnected Reel-Chat Members online 1
Xobor Create your own Forum with Xobor