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My Favorite "War of the Worlds"

I just got a copy of the "Special Collector's Edition" DVD of "The War of the Worlds" (1953). It's the one starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson (both of whom had cameos in the Spielberg-directed remake this past summer). It's really terrific: a classic 1950s sci-fi film, with some wonderful special features on the DVD, including commentary by the principal actors, film director Joe Dante, and film historians Bob Burns and Bill Warren. A "making of" documentary and a piece on H. G. Wells are also included, along with the original theatrical trailer. And there is an added treat: the famous Orson Welles "Mercury Theatre on the Air" radio broadcast. If you've never heard that broadcast (and I first did, many years ago), I highly recommend it.

Those of you who have seen this classic Technicolor George Pal production, directed by Byron Haskin, will really appreciate this hilarious send-up "in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies." Hat tip to Aeon Skoble... I'm still laughing.

Comments welcome.


Movie-buff that I am, I've gotta admit that I did like Spielberg's version; I'm a sucker for well-done, believable sfx in (almost) any SF movie, even if the lead is a know-it-all ignoramus representing Scientology.

Still, the original version I did think was still best. The remake stuck closer to Wells' vision of the 'ships' (and both stuck to his original book, story-wise) but, the original movie's ships were definitely of an 'out-of-this-world' imaginative design and 'operation' (anti-grav?)

Thanx for the 'heads up' re the DVD's special features; wouldn't have expected such re an 'old' movie. Will get it.

Re the 'bunnies' satire. Definitely cute and funny (not to mention not bad for being so accurate a story-summary condensed to 30secs!) Unfortunately, when I saw your ref to 'bunnies' I was expectiing a...different type. --- Ah, well, it was still cute anyway.

Now that you're all convalesced, stop being a Roger Ebert wannabee and get back to those next books! I'm standing at B&N waiting!


Don't you guys find the story of War of the Worlds awfully naturalistic? The humans basically get plastered then the supposedly advanced alien race gets wiped out by flu. Great!

(Incidentally, volume 2 of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is set against the backdrop of Welles's original novel - i.e. London, early 20th century - and offers a rather more romantic view of the aliens' demise)

Hey Matthew... I think the newer version is more "naturalistic" in the sense that you mean, though I still thought it was a really interesting film to watch (special effects-wise).

I can tell you however that "romanticism" v. "naturalism" aside, the 1953 version was wildly entertaining. And set against the backdrop of the Cold War, it was as much a sociological statement about its era as is the more recent film (contextualized by the fear of terrorism).