WORLD WITHOUT END (1956, Dir. Ed Bernds)

Warner Archive Blu-ray $21.99
80 min. / Technicolor / 2.35:1 CinemaScope / Subtitles

As you are by now no doubt aware, we here in the Balcony love our 1950s science-fiction films, and while we mostly go for small, low-budget B&W films like Invasion of the Saucer-Men or From Hell It Came, this film, as it turns out, has come along from the great folks at Warner Archive, and we find World Without End to be huge (CinemaScope!), colorful (Technicolor!) and stupid (Stupid!)

Four astronauts are sent to Mars, but only to circle the planet, look for buildings, canals, or billboards, and then return to Earth to report. Alas, a freak accident hurtles them through a time warp and into Earth's far future, where our planet is populated by murderous one-eyed cavemen (on the surface) and colorfully-clad old white guys wearing bathing caps and their gorgeous young women (living in caves). Hilarity ensues.

In case you're wondering, Einstein didn't write this.

Follow this: the astronauts are going to Mars, but they're not going to land, just circle the planet. So why did they bring hats? Coats? Six-shooters? The answer, folks, is that the film is (a) from Allied Artists, a/k/a "Monogram", and (b) it was written, produced, and directed by Ed Bernds, of Three Stooges and Bowery Boys fame. This is the type of "factually scientific" film where the characters, because they saw what "looks like grass" before crashing on "Mars" reason that it might have a breathable atmosphere, and there's "only one way to find out": yep, open the rocket door and take a deep, deep breath.

The cast includes Hugh Marlowe, Rod Taylor (in one of his first films, and it's lucky he looks good without a shirt on, it might've been his last) and Nancy Gates. I'm being a little hard on it, on the surface, but heck, as 1950s science-fiction films go, we've seen a lot worse. Well, I've rarely seen a worse giant rubber spider, that IS true.

Million-dollar Dialog:
"You mean that one-eyed monster we buried back at the camp is the heir to 10,000 years of human progress?"

The best news is that the new Warner Archives Blu-ray is positively stunning, the equal or better of any other sci-fi film of its era to make it to Blu-ray so far. From Hell It Came is coming next, and we're hopin' that the Archives keeps busy with a steady release of these '50s favorites.