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20 Million Miles to Earth
50th Anniversary Edition DVD cover Directed by Nathan H. Juran Produced by Charles H. Schneer Written by Bob Williams
Christopher Knopf Starring William Hopper
Joan Taylor
Frank Puglia Cinematography Irving Lippman
Carlo Ventimiglia Editing by Edwin Bryant Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) June 1957 Running time 82 minutes Country United States Language English

20 Million Miles to Earth is a 1957 American science fiction film written by Bob Williams and Christopher Knopf from an original treatment by Charlott Knight. The film was produced by Charles H. Schneer's Morningside Productions for Columbia Pictures and directed by Nathan H. Juran. As with several other Schneer-Columbia collaborations, it was developed to showcase the stop-motion animation talents of Ray Harryhausen.



The government of the United States, along with The Pentagon organizes the first interplanetary expedition to the planet Venus. The spacecraft XY-21 with a crew of seventeen successfully reaches the planet 20 million miles away and vast mineral resources and precious raw materials are discovered on the planet, but atmospheric conditions are extremely harsh and cannot support life from Earth, and several members of the expedition die because of the conditions. None of this is actually seen, but is all explained in dialogue later on in the film.

On the return journey, thirteen months after leaving, the rocket is crippled by a meteor and crashes into the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Sicily. The film begins as the two surviving crewmen are rescued by local fishermen before the vessel sinks beneath the waves and are taken to the local hotel. Staying at the hotel are an American scientist, Dr. Leonardo and his daughter Marisa, who is, fortunately, a medical student. Marissa tends to the crew herself, with mixed results: horribly burnt chief scientist of the expedition Dr. Sharman dies, whilst Col. Robert Calder survives. Calder determines to locate a specimen they brought with them to study how the creature survives and therefore prepare another expedition to tap into the planet's resources. In his dying breaths Dr. Sharman had different thoughts: he considered the creature a dangerous threat and beseeched Calder to find it and destroy it to prevent the creature causing destruction and carnage on Earth. Meanwhile the specimen, an egg, shrouded in jelly within a metal cylinder, washes ashore and is found by a local boy, who then sells it to Dr. Leonardo.

Overnight the egg hatches a reptilian creature, referred to as the Ymir. The Ymir begins to grow at a prodigious rate due to the abundance of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere. Dr. Leonardo thoughtfully places the Ymir in a cage. Soon, however, the Ymir becomes large and strong enough to free itself. Apparently, the Ymir eats sulfur and passes by horses, poultry and sheep before finding some bags of agricultural chemicals in a barn, one of which is sulfur and begins to eat. The Ymir only attacks when provoked and after being attacked by a dog and a farmer it escapes the barn. This time the Ymir runs to the erupting volcanic crater at Mount Etna.

It is found by the Italian army and American army only to be chased into a trap. However by this point the Ymir has grown over 20 ft high. The army ensnare the Ymir in an electric net and it is and transported to a zoo in Rome. Believing the situation is over, and themselves safe at last, Calder and Marissa begin to develop a romantic relationship.

After studying the Ymir for some time, something goes wrong in the zoo's laboratory when an accident disrupts the flow of electricity. The Ymir escapes and is attacked by an elephant. The Ymir, victorious after the battle, then goes on a rampage, smashing through buildings. Calder chases the Ymir down to the Tiber River in Rome, which promptly resurfaces and begins to attack the human threat and smashes through the bridge. Firearms are little use against the Ymir.

The Ymir, after being shot at by powerful explosive rockets, ends up on top of the Colosseum. After tearing into the brickwork and throwing pieces down at people and soldiers, it is eventually shot down by an intense barrage of rockets and falls some fifty meters, whereby it is crushed by falling masonry. The film ends with scientist Dr. Judson Uhl, played by John Zaremba, looking over the dead body of the Ymir and saying "Why is it always, always so costly for man to move from the present to the future?"

The first space flight to Venus returns to Earth carrying a specimen of Venusian life called the Ymir. When the ship crashes into the sea upon its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, the small, reptilian creature escapes, growing to an enormous size, eventually terrorizing the city of Rome. The always beautiful and impressive creature animations of the great Ray Harryhausen elevate the film above the level of ordinary 1950's monster sci-fi. The Ymir is one of the best-known creations in his long, distinguished career.
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CastFrank Puglia, William Hopper, Joan Taylor
DirectorNathan Juran
Genre:  Classics, Horror, Sci-Fi
Release Date:  1957
MPAA Rating:  Unrated
DVD Release Date:  June 25, 2002
Runtime:  82 minutes
Studio:  Columbia Pictures
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More 20 Million Miles to Earth reviews
review by . June 08, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Great monster movie from the 1950's. Some excellent stop motion animation.     Cons: Cheesy, bad script, often silly.     The Bottom Line: This is a great movie to watch if you are building a tradition with your children. My dad and I loved this one on Saturday night.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. I've previously expounded on "gronk" movies in my review of The Angry Red Planet.    …
review by . August 27, 2001
Pros: see below     Cons: see above     The Bottom Line: follows the top line           My first introduction to ‘spaghetti' monsters. I've seen a fair share of spaghetti westerns but this was my first monster trip. Humans have finally made a trip to Venus and returned. Unfortunately, things went bad on Venus and by the time the return flight landed/crashed on Earth, we are left with but two survivors - the captain of …
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