Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976, UK)

In director Nicolas Roeg's impressionistic, hallucinatory, disjointed, non-literal sci-fi film and dramatic parable - it told about a gentle-minded, intelligent and peaceful alien who arrived on Earth seeking water for his drought-stricken, arid planet (Anthea) that was facing a catastrophe. During his experiences on the fertile planet of Earth, the complex, misunderstood alien with a superior intellect and technological knowledge, was betrayed and corrupted by the usual vices of life in the wastelands of the US (mostly sexual behavior and alcohol dependency) and by rival corporate powers (exhibiting greed, wealth, and power and encouraging consumerism).

The disorienting, enigmatic, and densely-surreal cult film about a friendly alien invasion featured a non-linear narrative (and jarring cross-cutting transitions, flashforwards and backwards, dissolves and jerky camera movements) - it became a perennial popular 'midnight movie' and was considered highly provocative, and somewhat weird and daring for its time. Mythical allusions to the protagonist's loss of innocence included the tale of the fall of Icarus (who fell to Earth after flying too close to the Sun), Adam's fall from grace, and the betrayal and martyrdom of Jesus. Two prominent names in the film were especially meaningful: Newton (a reference to the 18th century's Isaac Newton who discovered the laws of gravity), and Farnsworth (a reference to pioneering television inventor Philo Farnsworth).

The pretentious, fish-out-of-water story (about an alien in an alien culture) was based upon Walter Tevis' 1963 novel, from an adapted screenplay by Paul Mayersberg, with some notable differences. The allegorical and satirical R-rated movie included scenes of unusual, exploratory and explicit (but faked) sexual encounters (with full frontal nudity of both major stars), 20 minutes of which was cut from the film's initially X-rated UK release in order to sanitize it and have it appeal to US audiences. A television remake followed: The Man Who Fell to Earth (1987). Main star David Bowie also played the same character (a bisexual, extra-terrestrial alien named Ziggy Stardust, a glam rock star) in the concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1979).

Other remakes included The Man Who Fell to Earth (1987) - an ABC-TV movie and series pilot, and the sequel The Man Who Fell to Earth (2022) - an 10-episode Showtime mini-series (airing for one season) starring Bill Nighy as the Bowie character.

  • during the opening title credits, a UFO splashed into a Southwestern US lake near the small village of Haneyville, NM (elevation 2,850) - in "The Land of Enchantment"; after the crash, a hooded duffle-coated figure (presumably a humanoid alien visitor or emissary) wearing boots, possibly struggling with gravity, stumbled down a steep hillside of mining slag; he was almost run over by a truck before he entered by foot into the town; the first person he saw was a drunken bum - a foreshadowing of himself
  • at first, taking the appearance of a slim, pale, androgynous-looking, red-haired Britisher with a passport, Thomas "Tommy" Jerome Newton (rock star David Bowie in his feature film acting debut), the visitor ("the man who fell to Earth") reclined backwards on a storefront bench to await the elderly storeowner's (Lilybelle Crawford) return; after entering the pawn-exchange shop, as Louis Armstrong's "Blueberry Hill" played in the background, he bargained with the owner - who was wary of him and kept a gun hidden in a drawer; he traded away a gold wedding ring for $20 to raise cash; afterwards by a river, Newton drank a cup of water; strangely (due to the elided timeframe), he had more rings in his coat pocket and a wad of $100 dollar bills

First Full View of Red-Haired Alien Visitor - Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie)

Reclining Backwards and Viewing the World Upside Down on a Bench
  • abruptly in the nexr scene, the pale, ethereal and clairvoyant alien ventured to Manhattan to the private home of bookish patent attorney Oliver V. Farnsworth (Buck Henry), who was wearing thick-lensed spectacles; Thomas presented Farnsworth with a thick envelope (it was a cash "bribe" for an advance on his salary, for 10 hours at $1,000 dollars an hour); he also provided a folder containing "electronics" inventions (from his home planet); Thomas refused to leave his folder overnight with Farnsworth, stating a common theme of trust running through the film: "It's not that I don't trust you"
  • by dawn of the next day after exhaustively studying the file, Farnsworth was astonished that Thomas had nine basic patents (worth an estimated $300 million in three years) with detailed plans for advanced equipment that could easily overtake rival companies including RCA, Eastman Kodak and DuPont
  • the otherworldly entrepreneur hired the opportunistic Farnsworth (for 10% of net profits, plus 5% of corporate holdings), to set up a lucrative business enterprise
Intercutting Scenes: Kabuki Theatre in a Japanese Restaurant and a Sexual Coupling In a Professor's Apartment with 18 Year-Old Coed Elaine
  • while in NYC at an undisclosed later time, Newton watched a traditional Japanese kabuki stage performance with the slashing movements of samurai swords, while disillusioned, divorced and cynical Chicago college chemistry professor Dr. Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn) was having a vigorous sexual coupling with young coed student Elaine (Linda Hutton) in his apartment; while wrestling together (their grunts and groans provided the audio track for the Japanese staged play), Elaine was snapping photographs of them; afterwards in bed together, the two reviewed the instantly-processed roll of film (from her advanced WE camera) of their cavortings, revealing that they were using one of Thomas' new products from World Color - a Division of World Enterprises (We) - the marveled at a roll of self-developing color photo film
  • from the profits derived from the sale of his patents, Thomas' headquarters of World Enterprises expanded with numerous divisions: Astrology, Bio-Chemistry, Chemical Eng, Chem Propellents, Cybernetics, Electrical Eng, and much more; Oliver Farnsworth became the President of Thomas' newly-established corporation - "one of the largest corporations in America"
  • the 'Myth of Icarus' ("a boy falling out of the sky") was introduced in a book ("Masterpieces in Paint and Poetry") published by World Enterprises; the divorced Dr. Bryce had received the book as a present from his daughter (Debbie Letteau); as he perused through the book, he paused at a reproduction of artist Bruegel's "Landscape With the Fall of Icarus," memorialized in W.H. Auden's 1940 poem Musée des Beaux Arts
  • shortly later, disillusioned Dr. Bryce denounced his dead-end teaching profession to his superior Professor Canutti (Jackson D. Kane); he decried the out-of-date textbooks and was concerned about the bored students who wanted real "ideas to pursue"; Bryce also expressed his interest in becoming involved with Newton's World Enterprises (WE) Corporation; meanwhile, he was continuing his profligate lifestyle as a 'father-figure' with two other young co-eds (sex occurred on two separate occasions, although their scenes were interwoven together): Helen (Adrienne Larussa) and glasses-wearing Jill (Hilary Holland); he vowed facetiously that he wasn't a "lecherous old man"
  • while being chauffeured by driver Arthur (Tony Mascia) in a 1974 Lincoln Continental limousine from NYC to Artesia, NM near the border where he had initially landed, Thomas phoned Farnsworth and insisted on selling off his photography division to Eastman Kodak; upon his arrival, he was viewed suspiciously by two police officers as he checked into the Hotel Artesia, taking the name of "Mr. Sussex"; he became nauseated, bled from his nose and fainted during rapid movement in the hotel elevator on the way up to Room # 505 on the 5th floor; he was rescued from his 'fall to Earth' by lonely, naive, shallow-minded hotel cleaning lady Mary-Lou (Candy Clark) who physically lifted him and carried him to his room's bed
  • later after her work shift, she returned to keep him company until 3:00 am, drinking Beefeater Gin and Tonic while he drank water; she asked about his occupation, and interpreted from his answer that he was a "traveler"; Mary-Lou also advised that he was too thin; she warned him about ecological disaster - similar to what Thomas had experienced on his own planet: "This is a very unhealthy place. Water here is all polluted. They put all kinds of chemicals in it to keep people from gettin' sick. A very unhealthy place. I think it just takes getting used to, that's all"
  • after futily attempting to contact World Enterprises, Bryce finally received a letter from Farnsworth; he was brought to the multi-million dollar, Albuquerque New Mexico-based, global-communications technological firm (World Enterprises (WE) Corporation, and was hired in the corporation's research department as a fuel technician, at a salary three times higher than his previous academia job; he also admitted he lost his sex addiction: "I gradually began to lose my interest in 18-year-olds"
  • with earthling Mary-Lou due to their instant friendship, Thomas had many frequent encounters with her after moving into her small apartment; she had it set up with a bank of over half-a-dozen televisions that he watched simultaneously (she wondered: "I don't understand how you can watch them all at the same time"); she regularly taught him about many eccentric human ways, including drinking gin and white wine, while he was distracted watching multiple TVs (one set was airing the apt film Love in the Afternoon (1957) with meaningful dialogue between Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper); she expressed growing affection for him: "You're really a freak. I don't mean that unkindly. I like freaks. That's why I like you. I really like you"; she promised to take him to her Sunday church, and promised he wouldn't feel out of place; she also expressed her naive view of God's existence: "Makes me feel so good. Gives me something to believe in. Everybody needs that, a meaning to life. I mean, when you look out at the sky at night, don't you feel that somewhere out there, there's gotta be a god? There's gotta be"
  • as she speculated, Thomas gazed out the window at a Santa Fe freight train, and thought to himself: "They're so strange here, the trains"
  • the two had a playful, but also slightly dysfunctional relationship; it appeared the unloved, lower-class Mary-Lou was beginning to corrupt him with the vices and pleasures of human life, including alcohol (mostly gin), religion and humanoid sex; as she bathed, she invited him into her bathroom: ("You can come in, Tommy. Don't be embarrassed") but then asked about his intentions: "Are you hiding out?"; she learned that he was married and that his wife was nothing like her
Thomas Learning About Human Vices and Distractions

A Bank of Televisions in Mary-Lou's Apartment for Thomas to Watch

Mary-Lou: "You can come in Tommy. Don't be embarrassed"

Singing a Christian Hymn Together on Sunday in a Presbyterian Church
  • in her local Presbyterian church, she and Thomas sang the specially-dedicated to him British Christian hymn "Jerusalem" written by Sir Hubert Parry in the early 1900s, with lyrics from William Blake's poem "And did those feet in ancient time" (written in 1804 and published in 1808)
  • while riding in the back of his limo (with Mary-Lou sleeping) through the countryside, Thomas watched a horse galloping alongside in a verdant green field, to the tune of The Kingston Trio's singing of 'The Fantasticks' song: "Try to Remember"; he experienced memories/visions of his Anthean family (his wife and two children), at first in a green pasture, and then suffering and dying on his drought-stricken home planet, with only 300 survivors after the effects of a nuclear war [Note: The name of the planet and nuclear war were only mentioned in the book]; his family members were forced to carry scuba tank-like water-receptacle tubes strapped on their backs in order to survive; he also dreamt of them next to a train on his own planet and saying goodbye to him as he departed and returned
Memories of Thomas' Family on Drought-Stricken Planet

A Vision of His Family in a Green Pasture!

Thomas' Wife (also Candy Clark) and Two Children

Strange Train-Like Hovels (on tracks) on Alien Planet
  • as a train whizzed by on tracks at a crossing, Mary-Lou recalled her youth growing up in Oklahoma when she used to take the train to see her grandmother, but she bemoaned the fact that the trains over time had become "shabby" and lost their appeal: ("It's a shame. I used to like trains"); they drove to Haneyville, NM where Thomas had crash-landed and had his first experience with Earthly life; Thomas got out and took a picture of where he had climbed down an incline past a dilapidated and abandoned mining shack; as a clairvoyant, Thomas experienced a vision of the past - a pioneer family (accompanied by old-time banjo music)
  • Mary-Lou marveled at the lake's beauty: "Lord, I never knew America was so beautiful. This is beau-ti-ful", and he asked quizzically: "Shall we build the house here?"; but then he became trance-like during a disturbing reversed flashback of his crash-landing into the lake when he "fell to Earth"
  • on the way back to Artesia, Thomas pronounced to Farnsworth his long-awaited objective - to institute a space program or project that would require recruiting new employees; some unspecified time later, Dr. Bryce arrived by helicopter, and was led to his cabin on the opposite side of the lake (within a distant view of Thomas' house and its stately Torii gates on the pier built nearby on the other side of the lake); Thomas and Mary-Lou were living together in the house, where he presented her with the gift ("prize") of a telescope, intercut with scenes of the two making love
In the House by the Lake, Intimate Love-Making Between the Couple
  • but then emotional distance began to develop between them; she stood in front of three rows of televisions in their house and shouted out to him: ("What's happened to you?"), and was critical of his TV-watching indulgence: "TALK TO ME!"; life on Earth for Thomas had become unsettling and disconcerting, as he was frequently sidetracked, disoriented and in despair after contact with human society; he began to seek to escape as he closed himself off from Mary-Lou; he became mesmerized by the 12 TV screens blaring in front of him, but also screamed out when he also became maddened by TV culture and his obsession with it: ("Get out of my mind, all of you! Leave my mind alone! Stay where you belong! Go away! Back where you belong! Back where you came from. All of you!")
  • in a private meeting between Bryce and Thomas in the back of the limousine, Bryce was told: "My interest is energy - transference of energy"; with his newly-acquired and tremendous financial wealth and political power as a tycoon, Thomas explained his objective - to build a space vehicle; within a highly-secure WE site, they entered into the interior of a space vehicle, with a central white orb; Bryce asked: "Are you Lithuanian?," and Thomas replied: "I come from England"; Bryce declared the space vehicle "too small for interplanetary travel" and admitted he wouldn't work on the project if it included the design of a weapon; during their conversation, Bryce mentioned that he had recently viewed a TV program about ex-astronauts who were now "basket cases"
  • Thomas marveled at and admired the medium of television, as he told Bryce: ("Television. The strange thing about television is that It shows you everything about life on Earth, but the true mysteries remain. Perhaps it's in the nature of television. Just waves in space"); Bryce admitted he didn't quite trust Thomas, and called himself "a disillusioned scientist - that goes with the cynical writer, the alcoholic actor and the spaced-out spaceman. A man like you wouldn't understand a guy like me"; their discussion ended with the Latin phrase for the Royal Air Force's motto: "Per ardua, ad astra" ("Through difficulties, to the stars")

Farnsworth with Corrupt Government Agent and Corporate Rival Peters (Bernie Casey)
Peters' Associate (Peter Prouse) Encouraging Corporate Scheming Against Thomas' World Enterprises
  • due to major press publicity about World Enterprises' many marvelous new products and innovations (including a new recycling camera-exchange offer), and its pioneering space project, the corrupt government and other corporate rivals, including government agent and Machiavellian villain Peters (Bernie Casey), had been surveilling and monitoring Thomas' World Enterprises; their take-over plot was to interfere with and disrupt and stall his plans; Peters warned Farnsworth: "The world is ever-changing, like our own solar system, and a corporation the size of yours has a duty to recognize that fact"
  • Peters was being pressured to threaten further, more drastic actions to curtail the success of Thomas' uncooperative and highly-successful corporation: (Peters: "The problem with this corporation is that it is technologically overstimulated. And the economic trouble stems from that fact"); Peters was discreetly urged by his associate (Peter Prouse): "Then you must go further," he claimed, to balance "the social ecology" of America, but Peters was having no luck with deterring the widespread progress of Thomas' corporation
  • Thomas was preparing for his long-awaited space project and the design of its transportation infrastructure - the maiden voyage of his spaceship to transport water back to his home planet - but it was taking longer than expected; Bryce forecast 15 months for completion of the project
  • as the boss' confidante, Bryce had always been prophetically suspicious of the unique and strange-acting Newton and wanted to learn more; through images taken by a secret X-ray camera hidden in a cabinet in his cabin, Bryce learned the secret of Newton's unusual physiology and his alien heritage after developing the images - he discovered Newton's true and secret form
  • Thomas informed Mary-Lou that he was giving her his house and filling her bank account, but was leaving her; she protested: "I want to be with you"; Thomas feared he would die if he remained there ("I can't stay"); she removed her black wig and threw it at him: "You're an ALIEN!" - she was referring to his immigration status with an expired visa, and accused him of not understanding Earthly life: ("You're simple. You don't understand how we live here"); she lovingly offered him a chance to reconsider: ("Don't go now. Give us another chance....You won't find anyone who'd do for you like I've done for you") and she screamed: "I can't let you go! NOT NOW!"
  • as she carried a freshly-baked tray of chocolate cookies into the kitchen, he flipped the tray from her hand, and they flew up into the air, in slow-motion, before they fell to the floor and broke - symbolic of the split in their relationship
Upended Tray of Chocolate Chip Cookies - In Slow Motion Flying Up, and Then Falling Down and Breaking Up on the Floor
  • Thomas spitefully locked himself in his bedroom and viewed his own distorted mirror-reflection; he looked down at his genitals and then tweaked his two nipples - touching his strange and odd-feeling human body; he also removed his human contact lens-disguise from his eyes; in a startling revelation sequence, when he opened his locked door to Mary-Lou, he revealed his true Anthean form to her (pale skin, bald-headed, cat-eyed with yellow slits, earless and hairless); she was so startled, panicked, frightened and repulsed by his genderlessness, that she uncontrollably peed down her leg at the horrific sight of him

Mary-Lou's Horrified Shock at Thomas' Revelation of His Alien Self

Reptilian or Cat-Like Yellow Eyes With Slits, Bald-Headed, Hairless, Earless

Mary-Lou Peeing in Shock at the Sight of Thomas' True Form
  • Thomas laid back on his bed completely unclothed, and from his POV, he envisioned his own alien or extra-terrestrial version of human sex; two aliens flipped through the air, excreting a thick, semen-like, viscuous white fluid or goo that covered their bodies; Mary-Lou removed her nightgown and hesitantly crawled over to him on the bed, tried to calm down, and tentatively touched him; she told him: "I lifted you up once"; he assured her about his alien nature: "You must believe it, Mary-Lou"; overwhelmed by the revelation and repulsed, she ultimately screamed and fled from the room; with his slit eyes causing distorted vision, he saw Mary-Lou crouched in the kitchen, crying and asking: "Why? Oh, why?"
Thomas' Envisioning of Extra-Terrestrial Alien Sex With His Alien Wife - A Secreted Semen-Like Goo
  • after Thomas replaced his contact-lens disguises to return to his Earthly appearance, they both spoke to each other on their outdoor pier; she asked him if he hated her, and Thomas responded: "I don't hate anyone. I can't"
  • Thomas departed from the house, leaving a distraught Mary-Lou to live alone there; at an isolated wooden shack, Thomas met up with Bryce who - after having learned through his X-ray camera that Thomas was an alien, asked directly: "Why'd you come here?"; Thomas explained about his drought-stricken planet and the need for Earth's water (Earth = "Planet of Water") after watching on television; Thomas admitted he had seen evidence of other alien visitors to Earth (and their "footsteps and their places"), similar to those who had visited his own planet; he theorized: "I know all things begin and end in eternity" but promised no harm; he also mentioned how he trusted both Mary-Lou and Bryce with his secret identity
  • the maiden voyage of the World Enterprises' spaceship to send Thomas - the head of the corporation - to a planet in space was set to launch from the NM space pad, although some regarded the experimental trip as "wasteful"; as he approached the spaceship amidst jubilant crowds and throngs of people and reporters, Thomas was greeted by Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell (as Himself) and was wished good luck: ("Good luck. I wish I could go with you"); one reporter astutely observed: "Where he comes from is as mysterious as where he's going..."

The WE Spaceship Ready to Launch on its Maiden Voyage

Crowds, Police and Reporters

Thomas Wished 'Good Luck' by Jim Lovell
  • simultaneously, Mary-Lou was in Farnsworth's office, where she was sobbing and refusing a regular subsistence check from Thomas: "I don't want it! I want Tommy!"; with an hour to spare, Thomas asked his limo driver Arthur to drive off from the space launch and take him back to the house; they stopped for gas at a WE filling station, where the voice-over of a reporter kept praising Thomas for his "unique" contributions to everyone's lives with his "most exceptional products"; Arthur suddenly locked Thomas inside the back of the limo and kidnapped him - he had been bribed to seize Thomas
  • meanwhile, two government agents-thugs (hired by Peters) with glittery gold football helmets and face-shields entered Farnsworth's penthouse apartment, removed his glasses ("Those are my eyes!"), and forcibly dragged him into the living room as he pleaded: "I've changed my mind" [Note: Briefly shown but mostly off-screen, lawyer and partner Farnsworth had refused to bend to pressure from Peters to sell and break up World Enterprises to other rival capitalist companies]; the agents had to twice heave-ho him through a plate-glass window to murder him - he "fell to Earth" as his benefactor had before him; Farnsworth's gay, muscular male lover Trevor (Rick Riccardo) was also tracked down in the bathroom (lifting weights) and similarly eliminated
  • their "falling" deaths were cross-cut with Peters' naked dive into his sparkling outdoor swimming pool where he emerged poolside next to his nude wife (Playboy's Playmate of the Year for 1970, Claudia Jennings) where they embraced; they were seen later in the evening as a family with two children; doubting ex-military man Peters asked his wife: "I wonder if we do and say the right things...everything"
Peters' Juxtaposed Pool Dive Cross-Cut with the Falling Deaths of Farnsworth and Trevor
  • in the next major sequence, an abrupt shift, Thomas had been taken prisoner, and locked in a secluded, 8th floor level luxury apartment (inside the Hotel Plaza) by government administrators; his arrest and detention were predicated on the fact that his monopolistic corporation had destabilized the US economy; while attended to by butler-waiter Albert (Albert Nelson) with a martini in hand as he laid back on a raised, giant king-sized bed, Thomas was watching a TV broadcast of an interview with newly-appointed chemical industry advisor Dr. Canutti; his words revealed that Thomas' "giant corporation" had run into "financial difficulties"; the rationale for its demise was a "two-headed monster: innovation. The American consumer can assimilate only so many new products..."
  • apparently, the interruption of Thomas' space-launch and its cancellation, and the fall of his company had led to unexpected economic consequences, according to Peters; poolside, he expressed his worries to both Dr. Bryce and Dr. Canutti: "We've got a serious unemployment problem on our hands. The media are beginning to hint at a fraud"
  • after his abduction by earthlings (a reversal of the normal trope), Thomas was brutally dehumanized, and kept passive, bored, defenseless and unresistant with liberal doses of alcohol, causing him to become a crippled and addicted alcoholic; he continued to be a reclusive TV-viewer; his captors frequently medically tested and examined him, with special attention to performing surgery on his nipples
  • after several years apparently passed, Thomas' company eventually went bankrupt; as a semi-Judas traitor, Dr. Bryce switched allegiances to Peters who had masterminded Thomas' downfall; some decades later, he also became friends with an obviously-older Mary-Lou, and in a restaurant, they talked about possibly seeing and helping their old friend Thomas; the scene was cross-cut with meaningful excerpts from The Third Man (1949) being viewed by Thomas in his room, and the administration of a medical injection into Thomas' backside; Mary-Lou was fearful that she would hurt him again: ("I don't want to see him, hear him, but he's still a part of me. That's a fact. I don't want to hurt him anymore"); Bryce thought she might still talk to him: "Maybe you, uh, you can save him"
Cross-Cut Sequences

An Older Mary-Lou with Dr. Bryce

Thomas Watching The Third Man (1949)

Thomas Receiving an Medical Injection
  • Dr. Bryce received permission for Mary-Lou to visit Thomas in captivity, who had kept up his indulgences of entertainment and alcohol; depressed and in despair, he was no longer his planet's savior, and unable to return to his doomed home; Mary-Lou had also been ravaged and corrupted by frequent drinking; she was given directions and special access to enter his building, and unexpectedly found him in his private quarters; he didn't look a day older, but Mary-Lou had significantly aged; he was surprised by her arrival - and tried to escape the building, but the outer front doors were locked
  • in an exploratory and explicit sex scene, Newton dipped a gun's barrel into a glass of wine, licked it and drank from the glass; both were drinking after a gluttonous feast; he described what he saw after imbibing: "I see things...bodies....(women) and men..."; he aimed at her crotch from behind, and she scolded him: "Bad boy!"; but then she explained that she was sex-starved: "I want it. I've been dreaming of it"
Thomas' Mock-Pistol Sexual Foreplay
  • during their frenzied encounter, Newton drunkenly threatened Mary-Lou with the pistol: ("I think you know, you know too much about me... I can do anything, now, you know? I can kill you right here on this bed. Then I could phone room service. And they'd - they'd take your body away, and then I'd have them send up another girl"); as she held a banana for defense, she begged for her life: ("Oh, Tommy. Tommy. I just want it to be like it was. Me, the two of us. You. You. The way you were"); he barked back: "That's the way I am! It's too late, Mary-Lou. I can't trust you"; he stood up to shoot her: "Good-bye, Mary-Lou...Sleep well!"; he pulled the trigger and the gun fired a loud bang - and then he revealed he was only fooling her - it was a blank-firing fake gun
  • a mostly-loveless sexual encounter commenced, with the pop tune "Hello, Mary-Lou" playing on the soundtrack (performed by John Phillips & Mick Taylor); the two wrestled for the gun and with each other in various forms of undress, both exhibiting full-frontal views of themselves, while continuing to use the gun as sexual foreplay
  • afterwards, they also played some table-tennis, as she hopefully pleaded that he wouldn't return to his planet and his wife and children (who might already be dead), but instead would remain with her on Earth: ("You don't want to go back. Not really. You've got everything here. Tell me one thing that you have on your planet that we don't have on ours. Come on. Tell me one thing. You don't have any money. You don't have any water. You don't have any grass. You don't have any booze. What do you want to go back to a desert for? If you want desert, we got deserts here. This country's rich. We got everything")
  • she also took a different tact or strategy - she demeaned him by thinking that if he could convince his captors that he really was an alien creature - by revealing himself as he had to her - that they would be persuaded to free him - and he could return to his planet: "All I'm trying to say, Tommy, is that if you could just prove who you really are, you'd be free! Don't you understand? They don't understand you. They don't believe you. Believe me, they think you're one of us. They think you're a freak or a fake. I know you're not. All you have to do is just prove it to 'em. Let 'em see you as you really are"
  • vehemently, he resisted all of her suggestions: "No, I don't want to. I've proved enough. I've proved everything I'm gonna prove. I've gone as far as I'm going"; their argument destroyed their relationship forever; they reciprocally declared that they no longer loved each other: (Mary-Lou: "I don't love you anymore" - Thomas Jerome Newton: "And I don't love you"); Mary-Lou offered one final insult: "You're gonna die like an animal. Just an animal, a stupid creature"; Thomas gave her his "last present" - one of his gold rings - but tellingly, it didn't fit Mary-Lou's finger
  • one further medical test permanently weakened (or symbolically castrated) Thomas by ruining his eyes; during an X-ray of his retinas, the scientists glued his contact lens disguise onto his eyeballs, permanently making him appear human-like: ("They're stuck! I'll never get them off")
  • Thomas experienced two more visions of his family on his alien planet - in one positive one, they greeted him as he returned home, but in a second one, his family had perished from lack of water
  • the morose Thomas had lost all of his drive, energy, and enthusiasm about returning to Anthea and his family, and had replaced his dreams with heavy drinking of Beefeater Gin; his circumstances no longer permitted the long trip
Thomas Silently Being Watched By an Unidentified Person at the Beginning and at the End of the Film
  • one day, he realized he was imprisoning himself within his dilapidated and crumbling apartment - the front door was unlocked and he was no longer captive; he took an elevator to the lobby level and escaped onto the street at dusk
  • at Christmas time (with "Silent Night" playing on the soundtrack) in a liquor store, Mary-Lou and Bryce (dressed up as Santa) were presumably an elderly married couple (and had been for many years), purchasing alcohol to celebrate the holidays in their home and deaden themselves against the cold: (Mary-Lou: "I guess I must be feeling the cold"); as a counterpoint in the background, Bing Crosby was singing Cole Porter's "True Love"
  • as the film was concluding, Bryce entered a record store and asked to hear a track from an LP phonograph record titled "The Visitor" [Note: Off-screen, Thomas had recorded an alien message for the inhabitants of his planet - most specifically for his wife - to receive via a radio transmission]; Bryce asked a store clerk to play a track from the record while he listened on headphones
  • in the final scene, Bryce (with a copy of the recorded album) had been able to track down the elusive Thomas, and met up with him in an outdoor cafe-restaurant in town; the guilt-ridden Bryce lied when he denied having any contact with Mary-Lou: (Bryce answered: "Not much," although he was living with her), and then wondered if Thomas was bitter about his treatment of him: ("Don’t you feel bitter about it – everything?"); Thomas answered with absolution: "Bitter? No. We'd have probably treated you the same to you, if you'd come over to our place"; Thomas admitted his eyesight was poor, but that he still had money - but then clumsily dropped his drink glass
  • the final views of Thomas were as a completely drained, eternally-trapped, broken, depressed and alone alcoholic, although he had remained youthful looking; he was becoming inebriated in a cafe chair on the outdoor patio
Last Meeting Between Bryce and Thomas in an Outdoor Restaurant - Film's Final Image: Thomas Alone and Drunk in a Cafe Chair With Head Down
  • the waiter picked up his fallen glass and noted diplomatically: ("I think maybe Mr. Newton has had enough. Don't you?"); Bryce concurred: "I think maybe he has"; Thomas responded: "Ah...' - and bowed his head with his hat facing toward the camera
  • during the scrolling of the end credits, an instrumental version of "Star Dust" was performed on the soundtrack by Artie Shaw - a lament for lost love: ("Now my consolation Is in the stardust of a song Beside a garden wall When stars are bright You are in my arms The nightingale tells his fairy tale A paradise where roses bloom Though I dream in vain In my heart it will remain My stardust melody The memory of love's refrain")

Arrival of Humanoid Alien "Tommy" - Splashdown into a NM Lake

Alien Scrambling Down a Slippery Hillside of Mining Slag

Almost Struck By a Truck on a Bridge Overpass

Thomas Drinking NM River Water

Thomas Abruptly in NYC

Patent Attorney Oliver V. Farnsworth (Buck Henry)

One of Thomas' Advanced Patents - A Self-Developing Roll of Color Film

The Many Divisions of the World Enterprises (We) Corporation in NYC

Thomas - The Executive CEO of World Enterprises - Chauffeured in His Limousine from NYC to NM

Myth of Icarus Reflected in Bruegel's Painting

Thomas Rescued and Lifted Up From Fainting in Elevator by Hotel Cleaning Lady Mary-Lou (Candy Clark)

Mary-Lou's Late-Nite Visit with Mr. Sussex

Dr. Bryce (Rip Torn) Hired by Farnsworth to Work in the Fuel Division of World Enterprises

Mary-Lou to Thomas: "There's gotta be a God"

During a Ride in the Country, Thomas' Vision of a Pioneer Family From the Past

Gift of a Telescope for Mary-Lou

The Two Becoming Similar-Looking Mirror Opposites or Soulmates

Mary-Lou: "Talk to me!" In Front of Three Rows of Televisions

Sidetracked Tommy Becoming Escapist and Distant From Mary-Lou

Enslaved Tommy: "Get out of my mind, all of you!"

Bryce at the Fuel and Launch Worksite in NM

Bryce Meeting with Thomas in Back of Limousine

Thomas with Bryce in the Interior of the Spaceship with a Central White Orb

Bryce's Hidden X-Ray Camera

Bryce's X-Ray Images of Thomas' Alien Physiology

Thomas Fearing He Would Die If He Remained, and Mary-Lou's Response: "I want to be with you"

Distorted Mirror Image of Thomas From His POV

Mary-Lou Nervously Lying Next to Thomas After He Revealed Himself as an Alien

Thomas' Distorted View of Mary-Lou Crouched in the Kitchen

Thomas on His Own Planet

Thomas Replacing His Contact Lens-Disguise to Again Appear Human

The Seizure and Murder of Farnsworth

Farnsworth Thrown Out Through His Apartment's Plate-Glass Window

Farnsworth 'Falling to Earth'

Thomas - A Prisoner of the Government in a Luxury Hotel-Apartment

Peters' Worries About the Consequences of the Demise of World Enterprises

Thomas Subjected to Invasive Medical Testing

Mary-Lou Reunited with Thomas After Decades

Their Playful But Loveless Sexual Encounter During Thomas' Captivity

During Table-Tennis (Mary-Lou: "You don't want to go back. Not really. You've got everything here")

Their Mutual Declarations That They Didn't Love Each Other Anymore

Drinking Heavily During His Final Days of Captivity

Elderly Couple Bryce and Mary-Lou Drinking at Christmastime

In a Record Store, Bryce Discovered Thomas' Recording of "The Visitor"


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z