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20 Million Miles To Earth

A 1957 science fiction film about an alien creature from Venus who becomes hostile towards Earthlings.

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Horrible but Fascinating

  • Jun 8, 2008
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.

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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October 08, 2010
One of my favorite movies. I felt some real empathy for the Ymir, it wasn't his fault.
January 31, 2011
Probably the kind of person who thought TRANSFORMERS was a really good flick--and Michael Bay is the world's greatest director. (snarky laugh)
More 20 Million Miles to Earth reviews
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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About this movie


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 ...

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Director: Nathan 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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