Working for O.S.I., the Office of Scientific Investigation, A-Man agent Jeffrey Stewart and his partner Dan Forbes are sent to a local hardware store where they find a strong magnetic field has magnetized every metal item in the store.
Investigating further, they eventually trace the source of the magnetism to an airborn flight carrying scientist Howard Denker, now dying of radiation poisoning, who has carted on board with him a new radioactive element which he has bombarded with alpha particles for 200 hours.
The element, dubbed 'serranium' grows geometrically by creating matter out of energy which it absorbs from metallic objects surrounding it. Stewart calculates that if the substance is not destroyed soon that within 24 hours or so it will have grown large enough to throw Earth out of its orbit.
Richard Carlson ... Dr. Jeffrey Stewart
King Donovan ... Dr. Dan Forbes
Jean Byron ... Connie Stewart
Harry Ellerbe ... Dr. Allard
Leo Britt ... Dr. Benton
Leonard Mudie ... Howard Denker
Byron Foulger ... Mr. Simon
Michael Fox ... Dr. Serny
John Zaremba ... Chief Watson
Lee Phelps ... City Engineer
Watson Downs ... Mayor
Roy Engel ... General Behan (as Roy Engle)
Frank Gerstle ... Colonel Willis
Director: Curt Siodmak / Herbert L. Strock (uncredited)
Jeff Stewart (Richard Carlson, also in Creature from the Black Lagoon & It Came from Outer Space) is an A-man working out of the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI). He narrates this story regarding the discovery/creation of a new unstable radioactive isotope.
The movie is part MacGuyver, part Mr. Wizard and part Golden Age Radio program. This movie entertains while it educates. I haven't learned as much from a movie since the Miracle of Life in high school health class. Dr. Stewart explains theories and principles of chemistry, physics and even earth science through the use of simple everyday items (God bless you Mr. Wizard). He also manages to make these "models" by combining everyday items (God bless you MacGuyver).
The special effects are simple and hardly believable, yet still effective in conveying the science of the story. This movie reminds me of a golden age radio program when a chicken heart grows so large as to destroy the earth. This movie follows in the footsteps of that program.
The same can be said of the Outer Limits. It was a show that was severely limited in budget, yet still managed to convey some poignant stories about science and humanity. The thing that all these things have in common is the realization that there are unknowns out there that can kills us. Science will either saves us from the unknowns, or be the Pandora's box to our destruction.
There is a pretty good selection of stars in this movie : Kathleen Freeman (best remembered by me as the woman at the supermarket with the silver revolver from Innerspace), Michael Fox (whom I remember as the announcer from the Longest Yard - 1974) and Leonard Mudie (whom one will remember as one of the survivors from the Star Trek episode The Cage).
The science seems a little hokey, but one has to remember the movies of the time. I mean having a terminal computer called the Brain and a data mainframe called MANIAC is quite silly. Yet it is still believable. This is a very good science fiction movie (especially when one takes in account when it was made and the obviously limited budget). I recommend this movie for anyone who is a fan of classic science fiction.
Forget the low budget and limited special effects. This is an exciting film. If you can transport yourself back to the time when science was young and naive, you can get caught up in this film. The "monster" is an isotope created by a mad scientist. It will, if not destroyed, eventually engulf the world. Earnest atomic scientists are in a race against time to transport it to Canada where the only instrument powerful enough to destroy it is located. Once there, they even run afoul of a jealous Canadian scientist who attempts to foil their last ditch efforts. The climax, with electricity surging and sparks flying is actually thrilling. This one has some of the laughs one expects from a low budget monster film, but it also achieves drama and excitement. The acting is even better than usual.
Now it wouldn't be a low budget film without at least one or two cheesy special effects. Don't miss the shot of some steel slugs tossed up and supposedly sticking to the magnetized ceiling; some of them actually roll off camera. However, this is just entertainment when combined with the taut, fast-paced story line, excellent performances and exciting climax. I recommend it.
One can't help but watch this movie and then realize what it must have been like to live at the cusp of the hydrogen bomb age. The first hydrogen bomb had been tested in the Eniwetok Atoll in November of 1951. The paranoia abounds in this nice romp through a cross-section of the science fiction that defined a generation of really offbeat, yet entertaining, stories regarding atomic power.
Richard Carlson leads an investigative team to examine the properties of an unusual magnetic aberration that seems to evolve on a rhythmic cycle. Once they discover the magnitude of the problem, they realize that they have only a limited amount of time to destroy the menace before it threatens the world.
Yes, there are some corny parts. But, it also has some real - pardon the pun - holding power - things that were truly exciting in 1953 and remain interesting to this day. My favorite part is when police are ordered to protect a radioactive "crime-scene" with orders "to shoot to kill". Really now, shoot what?!! Yet, the actors maintain their same stoic disposition.
Look for young Strother Martin co-piloting a Lockheed Constellation and King Donovan as Carlson's partner. This is still a pretty good movie if you just leave Einstein and Hawking out of the discussion. Right next door in the adjoining production studio, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" was filming. Some of the very actors in "The Magnetic Monster" appeared to have crossed the lot and signed up!
# Uses stock footage of the underground magneto-dynamo from the German science fiction thriller Gold (1934).
# Although credited to Curt Siodmak, most of the film was actually directed by Herbert L. Strock, who was hired by Ivan Tors for his skills as an editor, which were viewed as essential for a film which relied so much on stock footage.