Directed by Gordon Douglas
Cast: James Whitmore, James Arness, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, Fess Parker & Olin Howlin
1.33:1/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Warner Bros. DVD
A female child, obviously in shock, wandering in the New Mexico desert; a few miles away, a destroyed trailer with one side pulled out instead of pushed in and the owners missing; a little further away, a general store with a wall pulled out and its owner dead in the cellar; the girl's father is id'd as an FBI man which means the Feds are called in to help; an unidentifiable footprint found at the trailer site leads to two Dept. of Agriculture entymologists being called in to investigate. No one knows what is going on other than some people are dead and others missing. Thus starts what I still say is one of the best of the big bug movies ever made. Yes, it's a 50's sci/fi "B" movie, but it's very well made with a believable plot and very credible acting from James Whitmore (N.M. state police sgt.), James Arness (FBI agent), Edmund Gwen (Dr. Medford, entymologist), Joan Weldon (Dr. Medford, daughter, also an entymologist), and Olin Howlin as the alky in the rehab. hospital in L.A. Sharp eyed viewers will also catch quick views of Leonard Nimoy as an Army telex operator and Douglas Spencer as a news reporter - a role he also played in 1951's The Thing as Ned Scott. The other actors were believable and there is a noticeable absence of cliches and silly lines or stupid moves.
Now, a little history of the movie is in order. Them! was supposed to be shot in color and therefore the film stock was bought in advance by the studio. When the giant ant creatures were made and delivered, their colors were too garish and loud which was felt would take away from the movie and certainly look way out of place. I agree. So, it was decided to shoot in B & W on the existing color stock with the only splash of color being the film's title in the opening credits. A waste of color film but a nice touch none-the-less.
The transfer to DVD is most excellent and it seems that the original elements have been restored. It's clean and very charp with just a minimum of edge enhancement that is not noticed unless looking real hard for it. Contrast and brightness are right on the money and there is plenty of shadow detail. This is a great print.
The soundtrack is the original mono in Dolby Digital 1.0 and is typical 50's but there was no distortion and all voices were loud and completely clear. This is one of the better mono tracks I've heard. Well done, Warner.
The menus look like the front page of a supermarket tabloid and you have to navigate all over the place to find the different features. It looks great but is a slight pain in the ass to find things. The supplements are listed below and I wish there were more. I have to compliment Warner for finding and giving us several outtakes that were thought long lost. The remaining material is adequate but nothing special. The theatrical trailer looks just as good as the movie itself which was a welcome surprise and there are 30 chapter stops. I would have really loved to hear a full length commentary from someone - anyone - who had something to do with this movie but it was not to be.
Supplements: Outtakes, Still gallery, Production notes, Filmographies, Theatrical trailer.
THEM! is certainly one of the best 50's sci/fi movies ever made and it holds up surprisingly well today. A tip of the hat to Warner Brothers for finally giving us this movie in a presentation that looks better than the LD and likely better than the original theatrical showing. Highly recommended.
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©