Filmsite Movie Review
The Thing (From Another World) (1951)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

The Thing Creature Brought Back to Base:

Back at the base, the Thing creature in the enormous block of ice was brought into the base's storeroom. It was of a non-descript shape: "Can't see through the ice too good. Good enough to know that where he came from, they sure don't breed them for beauty." The ice block (with the creature encased inside) was positioned in the room - but what would the next step be? Scotty asked: "Well, what do we do now, defrost him?" The warmth of the storeroom would naturally melt the ice quickly, since the storeroom had a constant temperature that couldn't be regulated.

Taking charge, Capt. Hendry declared that he would not permit the block of ice to be defrosted, melted or chipped at. Without specific orders from his superiors, Hendry insisted that the defiant Carrington could not deviate from or disobey his authoritative command. The scientist wanted to immediately examine and study the creature, but was disallowed. The windows in the room were ordered to be broken to prevent the ice block from melting. It was imperative for Hendry to prevent a second disaster - after the earlier one with thermite bombs that destroyed the craft:

"Sorry. We already pulled one boner out there in the ice. I may not know anything about this, but until I receive instructions from my superior officer on what to do, we'll just have to mark time."

AF officers were prepared to take four hour-long shifts to stand watch and guard the ice block in the freezing cold room, beginning with Macpherson. Hendry ruled: "It's hands off for everyone." During his shift, Macpherson said he might need something to read, in contrast to the day's events: "A nice quiet horror story."

There were worries and disagreement among the doctors, including Dr. Redding and Chapman, about how the organism might be harboring potential diseases, but if kept frozen (and within the ice block), the danger might be minimized:

"In relation to removing the body from the ice, I'd like to point out there are organisms that survive after death, but cold can destroy them."

"But on the other hand, these same organisms may be dangerous. They may be carrying disease germs from another planet. Germs we couldn't cope with medically."

Dr. Chapman also had concerns about what would happen when the creature's body was exposed to the Earth's atmosphere: "We don't know what effect the air of our Earth may have on this creature's remains." Scotty joked: "Sort of go up in smoke, like the saucer, huh?" although some considered the concerns "nonsense" and "far-fetched." Carrington was frustrated: "We're getting nowhere." He urged Hendry at once to communicate with his superiors - however, radio communications with the outside world, reported by Cpl. Barnes through Tex, had been disrupted and cut-off due to bad weather: ("Couldn't get through this time. Too much interference").

A message with instructions had been received an hour earlier from Brig. General Fogarty - but it was out-of-date in terms of usefulness:

"Fogarty to Hendry: Withhold newspaper story until permission from Air Force HQ...Remove aircraft from ice at once. Use thermite bombs if necessary to melt ice....Erect temporary structure to protect aircraft until my arrival."

Scotty frustratingly realized that he would be denied an opportunity to be the first to report the story ("Now somebody else will get the story"), and that someone else in Washington would capitalize on the story.

The remainder of a subsequent transmission was broken up and unintelligible: "Everything grounded. Can't join you...Want you..." Tex speculated that both incoming and outgoing messages were not being delivered due to the blizzard: "Static's knocking it right out of the air." Scotty quipped: "I don't believe it. Even the Pony Express got through." Hendry urged Tex to keep trying and provided Barnes to help out, and then dictated the message he wanted to send to Fogarty:

"Tell him the aircraft was completely destroyed by the thermite bomb. Tell him we found a passenger... Tell him the body's in a block of ice and Dr. Carrington wants permission to remove the body from the ice for examination. We're standing by for instruction before further actions."

Carrington added emphasis for one additional point: "That it's vitally important that the examination be made." Things would begin to get more complicated - a major storm was brewing outdoors, and the Eskimos (who could help secure the base) had fled in fear when they saw the humanoid in the block of ice.

At the same time, Scotty was fearful that the story would be picked up by other newspapers, especially since his reporting had been blocked by Hendry. He was critical that decision-making was being deferred all the way up the chain of command to Gen. Fogarty and other superiors, who were all out of communications range: ("The Captain here passes the buck to General Fogarty. Fogarty takes it to Washington. Who will Truman ask when it gets to him?"). Scotty pictured in his mind his editor experiencing a fit - especially if the story was leaked to some other news outlet - and then news came from Anchorage that Scotty's fears had come true:

"Biggest story ever to hit this planet and I run into this human clam.... I've got to get some way to get back to civilization...I don't know. Pogo sticks. Kiddie cars. Gondolas. Dog sleds.... A picture just came to me. My editor - climbing all over his office, yelling, stamping his feet, breaking windows. He'll probably shoot himself by midnight."

Keeping Watch Over The Thing:

The first four-hour watch period was filled by Lt. Macpherson, who was beginning to become jittery next to the ice block ("he's havin' kittens"), according to Crew Chief Bob (Dewey Martin). He explained how the ice surface had become more transparent to reveal the scary-looking, extra-terrestrial creature:

"The ice is clearing up, and we can see that Thing pretty good now. It's got crazy hands and no hair, and the eyes - they're open and look like they can see...It's got me too, sir, and I wasn't in there very long."

Because it was so cold in the room (with the windows open), Lt. Macpherson was supplied with an electric blanket, and the Captain was convinced to reduce the watch hours from four to two - the schedule was set at 9:30 pm for the remainder of much of the evening after Macpherson was relieved:

Macpherson 2000-2200 (8-10 pm)
Barnes 2200-2400 (10-12 midnight)
Chief Crew Bob 2400-0200 (12 midnight to 2 am)
Hendry 0200-0400 (2-4 am)

Nikki's and Hendry's Rekindled Romance:

During the night, Nikki and Hendry were reacquainted ("beginning over again") after she expressed her uncertainty about the frozen alien humanoid: "What's really going on?...What does that boogeyman in a cake of ice really mean?...Well, does it mean that we're gonna start having visitors from other worlds, other planets, dropping in on us? Do we have to return the call, or...?" He thought the whole incident was "crazy," but she complimented him on his management of the situation and his new better-behaved demeanor: "I like the way you handled this whole mess, Pat...You're much nicer when you're not mad."

Acting very forward and making the first advance, she offered to buy him a drink this time ("I think you've earned it - that is, if you want one"), but he had to surrender himself to her by being tied up - to keep her safe from molesting hands:

Hendry: "You can tie my hands if you wanna."
Nikki: "That might not be such a bad idea."
Hendry: "You mean that?"
Nikki: "Well, you suggested it."
Hendry: "All right. I'll bring a rope."

In her office, she took charge and was in control like a dominatrix - she poured a drink down his throat with his hands tied behind his back. But a bit later, he was ready to be freed: "Don't you think you could untie me now?" He mentioned how there was a double standard: "You gals. If a guy asks you to have dinner and buys you a drink and tries to kiss you, he's a wolf" - he asked why she laughed at his statement and she asserted: "You never kissed me." She let him proceed with his comparison of the sexes: "Well, if the same man asked you to have 30,000 dinners and the same amount of drinks" - she finished his sentence: "...then he's not a wolf anymore? That's a fine philosophy." She asked: "So you really want your hands untied, just when everything was so nice and peaceful?" She was pleased that they had reignited their relationship and told him: "I like it" - and then had her way with him - she kissed him! After the kiss - she said: "I like that too."

She enjoyed the reversal of roles, and pulled him forward for another kiss: "Come here." She mentioned how when tied up and emasculated, he was more controlled and better behaved, and now she enjoyed his company without his grabby, wandering hands:

"Well, look at you, sitting there like a civilized man instead of grabbing around like a throwback. (He untied his hands, but she didn't notice) Why, if you weren't tied up, I wouldn't dare have told you how much I like you. You know, Pat, the trouble with you is, that you just don't know anything about women. What a woman wants is to, is to (she noticed both of his hands were free) - How long have you been loose?"

As he began to walk out after calling it a "very interesting evening," he prompted her to become worried that he wasn't interested in her - but then he turned and gave her a steamy kiss.

The Thing Accidentally Thawed and Escaped:

Hendry went to check at 2200 hours at the beginning of Barnes' two-hour watch period in the storage room. Unnerved by the Thing staring at him through the ice, Barnes had thrown an electric blanket over the shape to prevent it from spooking him. He unwittingly defrosted or thawed the Thing creature in the ice-block (the camera revealed the dripping water), while he sat reading a novel nearby. With earmuffs to protect himself from the cold, he didn't hear or notice that the creature behind him had begun to come-to-life in the block of ice. He also wasn't aware that the whimpering and barking sled dogs outside sensed something astir. When a shadow moved over him, Barnes realized that the Thing was escaping from its ice entombment. Barnes pulled out his gun and fired shots at the Thing (with no effect), and then fled from the room to find Hendry. He raced to an adjoining room with hysteria, and told Scotty and Dr. Chapman:

"I got to tell him that Thing's alive. I saw it, sir. It chased me. That Thing's alive. It's not dead. It's.."

After Captain Hendry appeared, Barnes continued with his tale - he reported being terrified, and how he had drawn and fired his pistol at the attacking creature as it stumbled from the room into the snow:

"That thing's alive, sir. I saw it. I shot at it. I hit it, I know it. Nothing happened. It kept coming at me, making a noise like a cat meowing. Captain, it was awful. Those hands and those eyes! Captain, you've got to do something about it... (Chapman tossed a glass of water into Barnes' face to calm him down) Sorry sir, I don't know exactly, but all of a sudden, it was alive and coming at me. I shot at it and hit it. Nothing happened, so I slammed the door and ran."

Hendry ordered Macpherson and Crew Chief Bob to retrieve their guns, and they proceeded to the storeroom. Inside, they found a large body imprint where the Thing had been lying encased in the ice. Bob discovered the reason the Thing had thawed and escaped through the outer door - the electric blanket. Hendry ordered parkas, boots, and flashlights to go after the Thing. They listened through the storeroom's broken windows as the base's sled dogs snarled during a major struggle outside. Dr. Chapman was concerned about the vicious dogs possibly destroying the creature: "They'll tear him to pieces." Dr. Carrington was even more anxious about preserving the life of the creature: "We must save him...He mustn't be hurt." Hendry warned not to go outside: "You'll freeze to death. Use your head."

Some of the group watched in disbelief at the violent confrontation between the creature and the growling sled dogs outdoors, two of which were thrown around and slaughtered. The Thing ran off when a group of the men approached. All that remained was the creature's separated arm, torn off during the vicious attack and lying on the snow next to the slain dogs. After closer investigation of the arm in the lab, Dr. Carrington asked Hendry and his men what they had witnessed outside:

"Well, it was too cold to see well, but the dogs had him down, tearing at him. I saw him get up with three of them hanging on his arm. Then, he threw one dog at the rest. When we got there, two of them were dead. They looked like they'd been through a chopper."

The Composition of the Thing Creature:

Carrington and other doctors determined that the arm was composed of "a sort of chitinous substance" that was laced with sharp barbs: "Something between a beetle's back and a rose thorn....Amazingly strong. And very effective if used as a weapon." It was hypothesized by Scotty that the creature - with an amputated arm in the intense frigid cold - would not survive for very long during the night ("He's dead now"). However, the Thing had survived for 24 hours in the block of ice, and had fought off 12 dogs: ("Pretty spry for a guy with 12 dogs on him - after losing an arm").

There was blood on the hand, but it was from one of the dogs: ("There's no blood in the arm, no animal tissue"). However, as Carrington theorized, it was possible that the creature was not mortal: "I doubt very much if it can die, as we understand dying." Under a microscope, Dr. Stern (Eduard Franz) stated that there were indications that the alien creature was not human - but had a cellular structure identical to vegetable matter - it was a killing, chlorophyll-based humanoid vegetable:

"No arterial structure indicated. No nerve endings visible. Porous, unconnected cellular growth."

Scotty was astounded: "Sounds like you're trying to describe a vegetable." In addition, the creature was slightly radioactive, and impervious to bullets:

"That could be why the bullets fired by Sgt. Barnes had no seeming effect...That's right, merely holes drilled into vegetable matter. This green fluid here - like plant sap. We'll probably find it has a sugar base."

Scotty referred to the Thing as a super species of intelligent carrot. Dr. Carrington and other scientists promoted the theory that on the Thing's home planet, plants rather than animals had evolved into intelligent beings:

Scotty: "It sounds like, well - just as though you're describing some form of super carrot."
Dr. Carrington: "That's nearly right, Mr. Scott. This carrot, as you call it, has constructed an aircraft capable of flying some millions of miles through space, propelled by a force as yet unknown to us."
Scotty: "An intellectual carrot. The mind boggles."
Dr. Carrington: "It shouldn't. Imagine how strange it would have seemed during the Pliocene age to forecast that worms, fish, lizards that crawled over the Earth would going to evolve into us...on the planet from which our visitor came, vegetable life underwent an evolution similar to that of our own animal life, which would account for the superiority of its brain. Its development was not handicapped by emotional or sexual factors."
Scotty: "Dr. Carrington, you're a man who won the Nobel Prize. You've received every kind of international kudos a scientist can attain. If you were for sale, I could get a million bucks for you from any foreign government. I'm not, therefore, gonna stick my neck out and say that you're stuffed absolutely clean full of wild blueberry muffins. But I promise you, my readers are gonna think so."
Dr. Carrington: "Not for long, Mr. Scott. Not if they happen to know anything about the flora of their own planet."
Scotty: "You mean there are vegetables right here on Earth that can think?"
Dr. Carrington: "A certain kind of thinking, yes. Ever hear of the telegraph vine?...or the... is it the Acanthus Century Plant?...
Dr. Stern: "Well, the century plant catches mice, bats, squirrels, any small mammals. Uses a sweet syrup as bait, then holds onto its catch and feeds on it."
Scotty: "What's the telegraph vine?"
Dr. Stern: "A vine, research has proven, can signal to other vines of the same species - vines 20 to 100 miles away. Intelligence in plants and vegetables is an old story, Mr. Scott. Older even than the animal arrogance that has overlooked it."
Scotty: "That's one for Ripley."

In addition, one of the seed pods found by Carrington and taken "from under the soft tissue in the palm of the hand" - was proof that the creature was a superior, evolved vegetative organism that could reproduce asexually without emotion or pain, and was worthy of further study. Carrington then delivered one of the most-cliched sci-fi lines of all time ("If we can only communicate with it...!"):

"The neat and unconfused reproductive technique of vegetation. No pain or pleasure as we know it. No emotions, no heart. Our superior. Our superior in every way. Gentlemen, do you realize what we've found? A being from another world, as different from us as one pole from the other. If we can only communicate with it, we can learn secrets that have been hidden from mankind since the beginning..."

When the fingers of the severed arm began to move, Scotty exclaimed: "Holy cats! It's moving!" Dr. Carrington theorized that some of the deceased dogs' thawed blood had been absorbed (or ingested) into the arm and caused the temporary re-animation - he dictated to Nikki a record of the phenomenon:

"At 12:10 am, the hand became alive. The temperature of the forearm showed a 20-degree rise. Because of this rise in temperature, I believe it was able to ingest the canine blood with which it was covered."

It proved that even separate parts of the creature could come alive as independent organisms by feeding off an organism's blood. The discovery meant that the one-alien was actually a potential army, capable of creating an entire invasion force from seed pods contained in its body. It was an ominous discovery (Scotty: "You mean it lives on blood!") - the creature could multiply and potentially hunt down the scientists themselves for their blood.

Carrington's Dangerous Defense of the Creature:

Hendry, with a team armed with axes and guns, was determined that the alien (he called it a "visitor") had to be eliminated after a thorough hunt. Carrington nervously demanded that they treat their visitor - "a stranger in a strange land" - with respect. He unwisely argued that he was studying and researching the rapid growth rate of the alien despite the danger, and that he wished to preserve the alien at all costs:

Dr. Carrington: "Captain, when you find what you're looking for, remember it's a stranger in a strange land. The only crimes involved were those committed against it. It woke from a block of ice, it was attacked by dogs and shot by a frightened man. All I want is a chance to communicate with it."
Hendry: "Fine, you can do anything you want with it, provided it's locked up in a safe place."
Scotty: "Captain, If we catch up with our pal, give me a chance to get a picture before somebody makes a salad of him, huh?"

In the radio communications room, Tex reported that Fogarty had squashed Scott's story chances: "I got part of a message from the General. He said to wait on Mr. Scott's story." Scott wasn't perturbed: "Aw, what's the difference? Nothing's going out anyway." Hendry's group began a thorough search for the so-called "man from Mars," although guns had already been proven ineffective: "Gun's no good."

During the search for the alien, the Geiger counter misleadingly beeped at the door to the Mineralogy lab where "radioactive isotopes" (uranium ore samples) were stored in the room. And in the locked Greenhouse, there appeared to be no sign of the alien - and they feared they were "batting zero." They would have to begin their search outdoors in half-hour relay teams, because of the intense cold. Scotty joked about their predicament:

"We're liable to become famous. So few people can boast that they've lost a flying saucer and a man from Mars all in the same day. Wonder what they'd have done to Columbus if he'd discovered America, then mislaid it. Bunch of butterfingers!"

Dr. Carrington had privately noticed that near the front door of the Greenhouse, some of the temperature-sensitive mold plants were wilting and dying, due to a 10-15 second blast of cold air from an opened door. He assembled a group of his loyal scientists and pointed out his theory. There was evidence that the creature broke the outside door lock, entered, and then left after repairing the door lock. There was further evidence - a glistening smear of plant sap on a wooden storage bin - that had come from the wounded arm of the creature. The group opened the small storage bin-container and found the recently-killed, still-warm body of one of the sled dogs - shrunken and drained of its blood. Carrington was pleased with both revelatory discoveries:

"Everything falls right into line. What could be more natural for a being of its kind than seeking out the only open earth within miles? It came here for refuge, heard us, and ran. It's been here. It will come back again."

The misguided Carrington secretly urged his scientists to not notify Hendry or the military leaders of their findings, in order to protect the creature from harm:

"I think it far better if science rather than the Army - I'm sure we can communicate with it. We must! It's wiser than we are. It's our only chance to talk to it, to learn so many things."

He also proposed for them to take turns to "stand guard" in the greenhouse - and "to confide in no one."

Meanwhile, Hendry was searching around the frigid base - and only a polar bear was flushed out by Barnes. Scotty joked: "Didn't find anything, did ya? I didn't think you would. When we lose 'em, they stay lost. Not that it makes much difference. There's nothing going out on the radio, nothing coming in."

About 10 minutes earlier, however, a series of increasingly-angry messages had come in from Brig. General Fogarty to Hendry:

  • "Take all precautions to preserve aircraft carefully until my arrival."
  • "Use same precautions with corpses of any occupants."
  • "Forward detailed description of aircraft. Measurements, approximate weight and so forth. Important."
  • "Why haven't you answered? Want immediate answer."
  • "Radio silence unnecessary. Reference message."
  • "Acknowledge immediately."
  • "Waiting report. Silence confusing."
  • "Acknowledge."
  • "Acknowledge at once."

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