Aliens from Outer Space are slowly switching places with real humans -- one of the first being a young man about to get married. Slowly, his new wife realizes something is wrong, and her suspicions are confirmed when her husband's odd behaviour begins to show up in other townspeople.
Tom Tryon ... Bill Farrell
Gloria Talbott ... Marge Bradley Farrell
Peter Baldwin ... Officer Frank Swanson
Robert Ivers ... Harry Phillips
Chuck Wassil ... Ted Hanks
Ty Hardin ... Mac Brody (as Ty Hungerford)
Ken Lynch ... Dr. Wayne
John Eldredge ... Police Captain H.B. Collins
Alan Dexter ... Sam Benson
James Anderson ... Weldon
This has to definitely be one of the better science fiction films of the mid to late 1950's. The only thing that hurts this film is the lousy title. The thing that really impressed me about it is the fact that this film isn't a typical B-movie. In fact, this film gives you a very thought provoking story as well as what another person said, a kind of poignancy that you never would expect from this type of film. In fact, you pretty much feel that towards the end of the film that Marge is actually falling for the alien posing as her beloved Bill. Also, you pretty much feel sorry for the impostor at the end as he is beginning to experience the emotions that he never had, especially love. Unfortunately, the film is undone by its typically lousy 1950's B-movie title. However, once you look past the title and look at how good the story is, you will see that this film is a pretty decent film.
Another thinly veiled reference to the Communist witch hunt, 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space' is a movie with a cheesy title and a decent story. Aliens have come to Earth to impersonate American men while using a ray-gun on the women (they really don't like hookers). The flip here is that while they ARE taking over the bodies & lives of the men they capture, they're trying to live the way we do. Are they also trying to love? It's almost touching. Even though the classic paranoia sci-fi flick 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' is an obvious influence, the second half is where the two movies diverge. You can almost root for the body snatchers in 'I Married A Monster'.
The B cast never humiliate themselves, but none of them are particularly memorable either. Gene Fowler Jr. (longtime editor, sometime director) leads his actors through the paces in competent fashion. Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbott don't cause too many sparks, but they're not really supposed to. Along with the actual subversion of humanity, this is also an allegory for how newlyweds can quickly grow apart and---okay, I'll say it---alienated. And although this movie is classified as horror/sci-fi, the American Film Institute saw fit to nominate it for their list of 400 great American love stories.
Filled with subtext and double-meanings (as so many overlooked B movies are), the flick accomplishes more by saying less. The F/X are about as dated and obvious as such things get, but they weren't perfect in other '50s genre films either. You might laugh at 'I Married A Monster', but you could do much worse for 78 minutes. This can't be said for half the modern movies out there, but you SHOULD look closer at this one.
The Fifties were a notable decade for Sci-Fi films. The Cold War was on, and there was rampant paranoia about Communism; a generalized paranoia that was fueled in a large part by McCarthy and his "House Un-American Activities Committee". Personal example of the time: I was born in the same year as this film was made, and I grew up in a house that had been built to my parents' specifications to include a real bomb shelter in its basement. Movies such as the classics "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", and "I Married a Monster From Outer Space" played on this theme, translated into Sci-Fi films.
The sensationalist title belies the quality of the film and its well-told storyline. Although I am also fond of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", which has a similar theme, it lacks the heart of the subject of this review, in my opinion.
Marge (Gloria Talbott) and Bill (Tom Tryon) are getting married, but Marge doesn't realize at first that the night before the wedding her groom's body was taken over by an alien being. She notices the differences in his personality but brushes them aside. She soon comes to realize the true nature of what she has married, and of course tries to warn everyone, and stop the invasion of aliens...aliens who are taking over the menfolk of her town in the hopes of breeding with the women and establishing a colony on Earth. The theme is: "They look just like us....but they aren't! And they'll take over!" This is Communism as represented by the Sci-Fi genre, and it was very popular in the Fifties. The movie industry was feverishly pumping out lots of low-budget films meant to distract the American public at the local drive-in theatre. However, "I Married a Monster From Outer Space" seems to be one of the accidental gems.
Tom Tryon makes for a very likable alien. He's tall, handsome, and manages to make his character very sympathetic as the film progresses. He starts to understand and appreciate Earth, its culture, and his beautiful wife Marge, as she simultaneously pulls away upon discovering that what she is living (and sleeping) with isn't really her husband. And as always in Sci-Fi, the dogs always know who's the alien and who's the human. Marge's present of a dog to Bill results in an episode that jolts her into realizing that something is truly wrong.
Subtle performances by both Tryon and Talbott help immensely. Both were highly respected and capable actors of the time, and Tryon in particular manages to go from gentle and kind to menacing with a very subtle and believable ease in this film. Tryon was in several well-known films, and received especially good critical reviews for his role in the film "The Cardinal". Interesting bit of trivia: he was also considered by Alfred Hitchcock for the role of Sam Loomis in "Psycho." There are the typical Sci-Fi low-budget special effects, but what makes the film really work is the telling of the story in a manner that pulls you into all of the characters, despite the obvious shortcomings of the budget.
Note: Tom Tryon retired from acting in the late 1960's and became a successful novelist, publishing as Thomas Tryon; I remember my mother buying some of his books such as the bestselling "The Other", "Harvest Home", and "Crowned Heads", all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
* Near the end of the film (a Paramount production) take a good look at the hand weapon the Aliens are using. It looks remarkably like the one the Klingons used on the Original Star Trek, minus the longer barrel. Coincidence or reuse of props?