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Invaders from Mars became a modern cult classic, partly because it was filmed from a child's point of view, using exaggerated sets and upward angles. It was also one of two early 50s classic alien-invasion science fiction films (the other is Jack Arnold's "It Came From Outer Space") reflecting Cold War tensions, the Red Scare and paranoid anxiety – typical of many 50s decade films.
Invaders from Mars (1953) is a starkly stylish Sci-fi tale told from a pre-adolescent boy's point of view, as he alone witnesses the invasion of aliens who capture and brainwash residents of an average small town. Young David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt) is convinced that his normal suburban neighborhood has been invaded by strange creatures, especially when his parents come home acting like zombies. Nobody believes him. Things get stranger until somebody finally believes: Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter) and astronomer Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz). Stuart takes David seriously and informs them that prominent scientists have theorized that Martians, who live either underground on Mars or in giant spaceships, have manufactured synthetic humans called Mutax. Stuart speculates that Martians have come to Earth because local scientists including David's father, have constructed a rocket that will eventually pave the way for a devastating weapon that could control the solar system. Stuart postulates that the Martians will attempt to destroy the rocket and alerts Col. Fielding at a nearby military installation. Fielding notifies the Pentagon and soon massive numbers of men and tanks begin to mobilize toward David's small town.
Director and Art Production Designer William Cameron Menzies worked for all 3 major independent producers: Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick and Walter Wanger. His flamboyant and exotic fairy-tale sets for "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) are regarded to this day as a work of pure genius. In the 1940's he often worked with director Sam Wood, whose films he improved dramatically through his designs. He won 2 Oscars for Art Direction: "The Tempest"(1928) and "The Dove"(1927). The latter was the first ever award for Art Direction. "Production designer" (which is sometimes used interchangeably with "art director") was coined specifically for Menzies, to refer to his being the final word on the overall look of the production.
In 1940 he received an Honorary Academy Award "for outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in the production of "Gone with the Wind" (plaque). The sets in "Invaders from Mars" are a clear stamp of these production values. Menzies was inducted into the Art Directors Guild Hall of Fame in 2005.
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