Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (Fred F. Sears / U.S., 1956):

The gloved Red Scare material is spread spaciously from New Mexico to Washington, D.C., from one UFO swooping down on newlyweds in the desert to another denting the Capitol Dome. A satellite-gazing scientist (Hugh Marlowe) and a generalís daughter (Joan Taylor) comprise the couple, the irritation of a delayed honeymoon informs their brush with "survivors of a disintegrated solar system." The interplanetary visitors demand a conference, the security cabinet replies with artillery: "When an armed and threatening power lands uninvited in our capitol, we donít meet him with tea and cookies!" The aliens may be sluggish golem-armors with a rancid meat filling, but they have the best toys -- vaporizing rays, sensation-enhancing helmets, a skull-scanning, rose-shaped, disco-ball translator, and Paul Freesí voice quivering through the walls of spaceships. Best of all are the saucers themselves, rotating Frisbees made into marvelously deadpan creatures courtesy of Ray Harryhausenís stop-motion miniature detailing. Machine gun-happy paranoia to The Day the Earth Stood Stillís messianic disarmament, the movie still finds time to quote Portia's lament in The Merchant of Venice before unleashing the zany demolition of landmarks on the White House lawn. (A choice bit of mayhem: A spaceship nudges the Washington Monument so that the toppling obelisk quashes a group of fleeing earthlings.) The menace looming in the horizon during the concluding beachfront composition isnít another invasion but Burtonís Mars Attacks!, a devastating analysis. Directed by Fred F. Sears. With Donald Curtis, Morris Ankrum, John Zaremba, and Thomas Browne Henry. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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