I've previously expounded on "gronk" movies in my review of The Angry Red Planet.
20 Million Miles to Earth is a really choice example of the genre. Released in 1957 it's got the handsome star, Col. Robert Calder (played by William Hopper of Perry Mason fame) and the lovely strong heroine, the "almost-doctor" Marisa Leonardo (played by Joan Taylor who showed up in The Rifleman and Gunsmoke).
A team of intrepid explorers has gone to Venus and back and crash landed into the Mediterranean. Col. Calder is the lone survivor who is frantic to recover the alien sample brought back.
Too late! Pepe (Bart Braverman) arguably the most endearing character in this film has found the washed up canister and pulled the slimy egg sac from it and has traded it to the zoologist Dr. Leonardo (Frank Puglia) for 200 lira. He needs the money to buy a cowboy hat from Texas.
The sac hatches and produces a wonderful stop motion creature from the talents of Ray Harryhausen. This creature is a Ymir and appears to the viewer as a Godzilla like creature that grows at an alarming rate.
This movie has some of the most wonderfully awful dialog to come from 1950's horror movies. Col. Calder frets over the deaths of his seventeen crewmen but he's told he should be proud because he's a hero and they move on.
"Horrible, but fascinating," was another profound response to the growth of the creature. "Amazing, utterly amazing," was another line that is pregnant with possibilities.
The monster escapes and is captured and escapes again and rampages across Rome. The movie is shot with an abundance of scenic backdrops from what looks like near Naples and from the city of Rome. There is some real footage shot in the Colosseum which is really very nice.
One of the best animation scenes shows the monster battling with an elephant. The film-makers missed on the scale a bit. I've been to the actual location where the battle occurs and the elephant would have to be twenty-five feet tall. It's still good. There's nothing like a mad elephant charging a giant alien creature from Venus.
This film is typical of so many monster movies from the 1950's. The setting in Italy is different from all those set in the American desert. It's the same kind of plot from so many monster movies, but the setting is different and occasionally lovely. Too bad it is black and white. Italy should be seen in color!
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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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 ...