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Red Planet Mars

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Red Planet Mars (1952) starring Peter Graves, Andrea King, Herbert Berghof
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Red Planet Mars (1952) starring Peter Graves, Andrea King, Herbert Berghof

Synopsis of Red Planet Mars

Buy from Amazon In Red Planet Mars, an American scientist (Peter Graves) contacts Mars by radio and receives information that Mars is a utopia — which causes massive uncertainty on Western civilization, since their technology could disrupt farming, oil, coal, medicine, and other industries. A later message tells that Earth’s people can be saved if they return to the worship of God.  Revolution sweeps the Earth, including the Soviet Union. But there remains doubt about the messages being genuine, as an ex-Nazi claims he was duping the Americans.

Review of Red Planet Mars

Contacting the Red Planet Mars

Red Planet Mars is a very different science fiction movie — it’s literally a movie that invites you to think, rather than providing a special effects bonanza, or mindless violence. The movie begins with an astronomer, showing photographs of Mars, with the Martian polar ice caps melting and filling the canals on Mars — causing Dr. Chris Cronyn (Peter Graves) to announce that he’s been trying to contact any intelligent life on Mars, using equipment that had been created during World War II by a Nazi scientist, who has since disappeared.

Pi is the answer to communicating with Red Planet Mars

But the ex-Nazi, Franz Calder (Herbert Berghof) is alive and well, and working for the Soviet Union — and also trying to contact the Martians, although unsuccessful — he can, however, eavesdrop on the American’s attempts. But that still leaves the problem with how to communicate with a totally alien species, with whom humans have nothing in common … until Dr. Cronyn’s son Stewart (Orley Lindgren) suggests pi — since any advanced scientific community would know the concept.

First contact

Sure enough, the concept works, and they can use that as a basis to start communication between the two species. Dr. Cronyn’s wife, Linda (Andrea King) is concerned about the possible harm that might happen … and at first, it seems that her concerns may be valid as the first four Martian messages are translated — revealing that the Martians have lifespans of roughly 300 years, endless supplies of energy, and advanced agriculture that can feed 1,000 people from one-half of an acre.

Rioting caused by the messages from Red Planet Mars

The thought of the massive disruptions that this technology could happen on Earth — destroying the oil and coal industries, agriculture, etc. — causes widespread chaos, rioting, and threatens Western civilization; which Calder’s Communist masters enjoy greatly, thinking that they will soon take over the world as the West collapses.  Until the final message from the Martians …

I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, except to say that the Soviet Union soon has its own problems.  And the movie ends with a twist, followed by a twist … a very enjoyable movie that I truly enjoyed, and recommend highly.

Cast of characters

Movie quotes from Red Planet Mars

Dr. Boulting – Mitchell’s Assistant: Do you seriously believe that you’ve established contact with Mars?
Chris Cronyn: [Somewhat annoyed] Well, you take pictures of it. Why shouldn’t I talk to it?

Linda Cronyn: [to Chris] We’ve lived on the edge of a volcano all our lives. One day it’ll boil over.

Stewart Cronyn: How bout pi?
Linda Cronyn: That’s hardly the way to offer it, Stew, and by the size of that slice I doubt there is anything left.

Admiral Bill Carey: I wonder what kind of world we’re opening the door on!

Arjenian: [Threateningly to Calder] We don’t make investments with no return!

Franz Calder: It’s not in the American character to keep quiet about success.

Franz Calder: He who follows the tyrant’s banner shall wear the tyrant’s chains. He who carries God’s banner shall know everlasting life!
Arjenian: You expect me to tell them that?
Franz Calder: What you tell them is no concern of mine.

Linda Cronyn: It’s the Sermon on the Mount… from Mars.

Russian Commissar: That will silence their hymns. What do these superstitious peasants think? They cannot compete against our guns!

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