War of the Worlds is a socko science-fiction feature, as fearsome as a film as was the Orson Welles 1938 radio interpretation of the H.G. Wells novel. Gene Barry, as a scientist, is the principal in this story of an invasion of the earth by weird, spider-like characters from Mars, against whom the world’s most potent weapons, even the atom bomb are of no avail.
Into this setup, the special effects group headed by Gordon Jennings loosens a reign of screen terror, of futile defense, demolished cities, charred landscapes and people burned to ashes by the invaders’ weapons.
While following closely the plot laid down in Wells’ novel, the film transfers the first invasion to a small town in Southern California. What is believed to be a huge meteor lands near a small town but it turns out to be a Martian machine that raises itself on pulsating beams and promptly turns deadly heatwaves on humans, buildings and anything else that comes within range.
In the siege of terror, the story finds opportunity to develop a logical love story between Barry and Ann Robinson. Both are good and others seen to advantage include Les Tremayne as a general; Lewis Martin, a pastor who faces the invaders with a prayer and is struck down. An ominous commentary is spoken by Cedric Hardwicke.
1953: Best Special Effects.
Nominations: Best Editing, Sound