Production: 1951 - USA, RKO, b/w, 87 min.
Director: Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks (uncredited)
Screenwriters: Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks (uncredited) and Ben Hecht (uncredited), from the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr.
Special Effects: Donald Stewart
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin
Cast: Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Margaret Sheridan, Dewey Martin, Douglas Spencer, James Young, William Self, Eduard Franz, Sally Ceigthon, John Dierkes, James Arness, George Fenneman (uncredited)
Scientists at a remote research and military outpost near the North Pole discover a flying saucer under the ice and the body of an extraterrestrial being trapped in the ice nearby. Professor Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), leader of the scientific group, wants to thaw out the “thing,” to perform a scientific examination of it, but the military led by Captain Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) are against it, concerned more about the potential danger it would present. While they argue about what to do, a soldier guarding the creature inadvertently allows the defrosting of the “thing,” who comes back to life, revealing and releasing its hostility. After it escapes into the night, examination of a limb torn cleanly off the Thing by one of the sled dogs shows that its tissues are like those of a vegetable (a sort of “super carrot,” as it was referred to), and to survive, it has to feed on blood. The manhunt by the researchers and military against the monster soon becomes a manhunt by the monster against the group trapped inside the outpost. Peaceful attempts to communicate with the monster are a tragic failure, and the group eventually draws the monster into a trap and kills it by electrocution.

The direction of this film is credited to Christian Nyby, but the film is clearly the product of Howard Hawks. We see this in the subject so typical to the great director: a small band of men, isolated and exposed to danger, the "anti-intellectualism" that is explicit in the image of the scientists (for whom science does not have to be hindered by the loss of human life), the presence (here more than elsewhere) of the sole female, the quick edits, the essentials of dialogue, and the gathering of those under attack, to emphasize their moments of confused excitement.

The valuable black and white photography of Russell Harlan (who collaborated with Hawks in Red River [1948]) and The Big Sky [1952]) is perfectly matched to the atmosphere and to the history of film, so that even today, it is rightfully considered one of the best films of the science fiction genre.

Kenneth Tobey, who plays the army captain in charge of the military group, is a veteran of science fiction films, having also starred in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955); Douglas Spencer who played reporter Ned Scott also was a science fiction veteran, having appeared in Them! (1954) and This Island Earth (1955).

In 1982, Campbell’s tale was again brought to the screen, in the John Carpenter film, The Thing.

© English version by Vince Mattaliano   
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