THIS ISLAND EARTH. Universal International, 1955. Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason, Lance Fuller, Robert Nichols. Based on the book by Raymond F. Jones (Shasta, hardcover, 1952), a fixup novel comprised of stories appearing in three separate issues of Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1949-50. Director: Joseph M. Newman.

   There is an old saying that you can’t go home again, and I know it’s true, as this movie proves. When I saw this movie the first time, I was 13 years old, and I thought it was the best science fiction movie I’d ever seen. It was in color, first of all, and all of the gadgets in the movie simply knocked my socks off.

   Forbidden Planet came along the very next year, but while that one was also in color and had Robby the Robot and even better special effects, I still liked This Island Earth better. Why? Two scenes have stood out over all these past 60 years. The two scientists building a communications device called the interlocutor from scratch using blueprints and parts send by mail from an anonymous source.

   I tried doing the same thing in my basement at home, but some of the parts must have gotten lost in the mail.

   The other scene I remember is Jeff Morrow and Faith Domergue standing in clear vertical tubes designed as either compression or decompression devices so as to condition them for either space travel or life on the aliens’ planet on their way to the latter to save their civilization. I’ve always been a little vague about the details, but details don’t matter, when you see the two Earthlings in skeletal form as the tubes do what ever is is they did.

   What I didn’t remember — and how could I forget? — is the weird ugly mutated monster that threatens the pair as they make their way back to Earth having failed their mission. A convenient form of amnesia, I guess.

   Nor do I remember when I was 13 wondering why it was the aliens who had so much power and could do many wondrous things on Earth needed all those scientists from Earth to help them fight their battles with other aliens back home.

   I don’t think that Faith Domergue impersonated a atomic scientist very well, but she certainly wore her tight fitting space uniform quite nicely, long before Racquel Welch did in Fantastic Voyage. This Island Earth was there first in a number of ways, but once the group of four left the planet Earth for Metaluna, the story seems to lose its way. Some nice memories were lost along the way as well. I was disappointed.