In his relentless search for Sylvia and his friends Clayton wanders through the cities endless maze of streets. During his journey Clayton sees, and we see a number of scenes that somehow look familiar. Invaders from Mars and other worlds seem to take great offense at the existence of water towers, and take great delight in blowing them to bits. In the film Earth Vs The Flying Saucers water towers were prime targets. It’s the same here. The Martians blast as many water towers as they can. In this case size does not matter. If it’s a water tower it’s fair game. There is also one building in Los Angeles that always gets blown to bits, or has a significant part of it removed by force. I don’t know what this building is, but in the above mentioned film, and in The War Of The Worlds it seems to represent something important. I first noticed it in re-runs of the series Dragnet. It appeared in almost every episode, and at the very least it seemed that way.
A water tower bites the dust
If anyone can tell me the significance of what this building is, or what it represents, I’d really appreciate it. I’m betting on it being city hall. Anyhoo. the Martians blast everything in sight regardless of its importance. If humans can take shelter from the Martian onslaught it will soon be turned to rubble.
Clayton remembers something Sylvia told when they were in the farmhouse, and starts to search in churches. When Sylvia was small she was lost, and stayed in a small church waiting for a loved one to find her. When Clayton first finds a church he negotiates the oversize doors to get in, but does not find Sylvia, or his friends.
“…in a church by the door”
Well, it is a church, and these are doors
Inside he find a priest trying to give comfort to the injured and to the terrified. But Sylvia isn’t there. And Clayton leaves. With seconds a Martian war machine lays waste to what was the last refuge for many. Clayton continues blundering through the streets, barely able to walk he is so tired. He finds another church, and on a hunch, goes in.
He finds his comrades from Pacific Tech, wounded, bandaged, and unable to walk. He bellows out her name a few times. Still no response. He stumbles upon a third church, and there he finds her. They both wade into a tiny sea of humanity trying to get to each other. And when they do the Martians blast the church. Stain glass flies, stone falls, and dust covers every inch of the church. But they are together.
You would expect Clayton the scientist to be the first to notice, but it is Clayton the human being who first notices something is different. He approaches the crashed Martian ships and is ready to flee at a moment notice. Then a hatch in a Martian war machine opens. Painfully and slowly the arm of a Martian moves towards the edge of the hatch. As it reaches the edge of the hatch it stops moving, and changes color. Clayton approaches the hatch very, very slowly. His scientific mind takes over, and he takes hold of the Martian arm checking for a pulse.
What we take for granted till they annoy us, or make us ill, are the microbes in our bodies, and in our ecosystem. And it was these the Martians had no defence to. From the moment that hatch came off the first cylinder in Linda Rosa the Martians, and their invasion, were doomed. What keeps us alive killed them. It wasn’t the atomic bomb, it wasn’t a tank, or a well placed mortar round. It may have been the common cold, a touch of the flu, or a simple allergy to our atmosphere. But what ever it was people starting singing Amen with more meaning and feeling than ever before.
Singing in the hills of Los Angeles
A really cheesy ending to a great film
Martian Minutiae and other tidbits
George Pal was born György Pál Marczincsak in Hungary. He emigrated to the United States in 1940 to escape Nazi thugs and oppression. Walter Lantz, the creator of Woody Woodpecker, helped him obtain American citizenship. His religious ending at the end of The War of the Worlds and his genesis ending to his previous blockbuster, When Worlds Collide, may have been his way of thanking the country that took him in when mankind was showing its darkest side.
The War of the Worlds is without a doubt one of the most popular pieces of literature penned by H. G. Wells. First published in 1898 moving pictures or movies were still in their infancy. And it wasn’t until C.B. DeMille could see the untapped potential for a blockbuster film. Paramount purchased the rights – in perpetuity they thought –in 1925. Countless scripts were commissioned, written, then filed away. In 1951 George Pal was at Paramount Studios, working on the follow up to his previous blockbuster When Worlds Collide. He was looking for another project to follow the film just mentioned. That’s when he came upon the Paramount trove of un-used scripts. None were acceptable. He even couldn’t take elements of the scripts some were so bad. So he commissioned screenwriter Barre Lyndon to write an up to date script. George was over the moon about it, and showed it to then vice president of production Don Hartman. Hartman had no time for science fiction, and promptly tossed the script in the garbage. George was so incensed he allegedly treated Hartman to a barrage of four letter expletives, in two languages !. Pal was lucky and got the go-ahead signal from then Paramount executive Frank Freeman.
George knew the success or failure of the film would depend on the quality of the effects so he hired Byron Haskins to direct the fist chance he got. A stroke of genius struck George when Al Nozaki was hired. Al worked on the film in every manner. He drew concept drawings, created storyboards, and most importantly he designed the awesome Martian war machines. After reading the book, then re-reading the book he came up with some early sketches. After some consideration it was decided to dispense with walking tripod machines, and to have flying craft. The reason for this is budgetary. To create machines that didn’t look phony and could walk would eat up a sizeable portion of the films budget. Doing the same thing, but with “flying” craft would be much easier on the budget. Three of the Martian Machines were built and they were of the following design -
Width of Martian War Machine (wing tip to wing tip) - 42 inches
All had moveable necks made of copper
Each wing tip was lighted from within
Each machine moved on 15 to 20 wires used for support and to carry electricity
The heat ray was actually the sparks from a burning welding wire
The shields or “protective blisters” were simple glass domes normally used for display cases
The firing of the wing tip weapons were achieved by a combination of matte paintings and or cel animation which was done one frame at a time.
Evolution of a Martian
The single solitary Martian that was seen in the farmhouse scenes was designed by Al Nozaki. The alien had one single three color eye, long arms with suction cup fingers, and had pulsating veins. The alien suit was built by Charles Gemora, who had been with the Paramount make department since 1932. Diana Gemora assisted her father with the construction of the suit, and with its on camera appearance. The construction of the suit was a rushed job. Its chicken wire, latex rubber and tubing skeleton almost came apart when it was on camera.