When you watch a doomsday movie where characters are handpicked to be saved, you can’t help but reflect on your life and wonder if you would be chosen among the lucky few. Are you important enough to be saved? Do those in charge believe you to be a necessary component when humanity rebuilds itself?
As you contemplate your relevance in the universe, chances are you then realize you’re validating yourself based on a movie with a pretty ridiculous premise and an extremely loose plot. What’s the movie you’re watching? Well, it happens to be 1951’s ‘When Worlds Collide’, based on the 1933 novel by Phillip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer. ‘When Worlds Collide’ also happens to be today’s Throwback Thursday, a column where ScienceFiction.com looks at sci fi classics.
‘When Worlds Collide’ is almost tragically a great title for a pretty basic movie. One can only imagine the numerous parables that could be drawn from the both the metaphorical and literal colliding of worlds. (How will these human parents ever understand their martian teenaged children?!) However, in the case of this science fiction flick, we stick mainly with the literal.
Our dashing hero is a pilot named David Randall (played by Richard Derr). He’s tasked with delivering some pretty shocking news in the form of photographs to Dr. Cole Hendron (Larry Keating) and Hendron’s daughter, Joyce (Barbara Rush). Apparently, a rogue star named Bellus has left its orbit and is headed straight toward Earth.
Of course, Hendron has a difficult time convincing that pesky United Nations that Earth faces imminent doom. Hendron announces that the collision between Earth and Bellus is a mere eight months away. He asserts that humanity’s only hope is to build a spaceship and send people to Zyra, a planet that orbits Bellus. The only person that takes Hendron’s warnings seriously and who agrees to fund the building of a spaceship is a corrupt and wheelchair-bound industrialist named Sydney Stanton (John Hoyt).
However, there’s only so much room on the spaceship and too many (in this case white middle class) people. Tensions arise and soon violence breaks out. Not everyone can be saved. Plus, the fate of the people headed toward Zyra is in question. Will the spaceship make it? Is Zyra even habitable?
Despite a couple of shoddy hand-drawn landscapes, ‘When Worlds Collide’ did win the 1951 Academy Award for Best Special Effects. The movie certainly does a fine job scratching that itch when it comes to indulging in the melodramatic and nonsensical movies of the 1950’s. It’s definitely worth checking out. Take a look at the trailer!