H.G. Wells classic novel The War of the Worlds was published in 1897 and it took almost 50 years before it was adapted to the big screen, although it was infamously adapted for radio in 1938 where listeners believed that the radio play was a real news report.
Wells’ novel was the forerunner for alien invasion stories and while aliens appeared in movies since 1902’s A Trip to the Moon the big alien invasion movies that Hollywood loves didn’t flood the screens until the 1950’s.
George Pal produced the first movie based on Wells’ book. It updated the novel moving the story from the Victorian era England to then modern day 1950s America. Gene Barry stars as Dr. Clayton Forrester, a scientist who just happens to be close by when an object crashes into Earth. The object turns out to be the beginning of an invasion from Mars.
The army is quickly scrambled to the crash site but the Martians start to attack using superior vessels and weapons. The rest of the film follows Dr. Forrester as he flees with Ann Robinson trying to avoid getting captured or killed by the Martians.
This movie didn’t start the alien invasion trend in 1950s but it was certainly one of the better ones to come out of it. The best is still The Day the Earth Stood Still which contains several valuable lessons that Earth still hasn’t learned. There have been several remakes since including one by Steven Spielberg but none of them have been really good. The 1953 movie is a classic and better to watch than Roland Emmerich’s latest alien invasion crap.