|The Space Children|
|Directed by||Jack Arnold|
|Produced by||William Alland|
|Screenplay by||Bernard C. Schoenfeld|
|Story by||Tom Filer|
|Based on||The Egg|
by Tom Filer
|Music by||Van Cleave|
|Edited by||Terry O. Morse|
|Color process||Black and white|
William Alland Productions
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
The Space Children is a 1958 independently made American science-fiction film, produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold, and starring Michel Ray, Jackie Coogan, Russell Johnson, and Johnny Crawford. The film's special effects were handled by John P. Fulton, and the makeup was by Wally Westmore. The film was released in June 1958 as a double feature with The Colossus of New York.
Dave and Anne Brewster, with their sons Bud and Ken, arrive at the main gate of a seaside trailer park that houses the personnel working with the military to complete the Thunderer, a huge rocket that will place an atomic device in permanent Earth orbit. Dave Brewster is a technician who works for the company that provided parts for the top-secret Thunderer project, which will allow the USA to strike back within minutes at any nation that attacks America. The orbiting atomic device can be brought down on a selected city by remote control.
Seven children from various families, who live in the trailer park and are involved with the secret project, meet on the beach and become friends. While playing together, the kids observe a strange beam of light shining down onto a rocky section of the beach about a mile away. As they watch, a small, glowing object slowly floats down amid the beam and disappears among the rocks. As they watch the glowing object descend, Bud Brewster (Michel Ray) behaves as if he is listening to a voice only he can hear. He smiles and nods several times, showing no fear or confusion despite the strange situation.
That evening, after a community cookout involving all the parents and kids, the seven kids ask permission to take a walk on the beach. They head directly to a place among the rocks along the beach where they encounter a small, glowing, alien life form shaped somewhat like a human brain, resting on the sand. The kids' behavior clarifies that they are receiving the alien's thoughts and they all understand that Bud Brewster has been designated their leader as they perform a vital task for the glowing alien.
Bud and his brother Ken (Johnny Crawford) return to their trailer and tell their parents about the alien. Dave Brewster becomes angry, believing that his son is lying to excuse the fact that Ken and he stayed out so late and worried their parents, but when Dave grabs Bud in a threatening way, his arm is suddenly paralyzed. Bud calmly explains that all the kids and he are under the alien's protection. Confused by the situation, but convinced now that his sons are not lying, Dave accompanies six of the kids back to the alien's rocky hideout. The seventh, Tim Gamble (Johnny Washbrook), is roughly accosted by his drunken, abusive stepfather Joe (Russell Johnson). Tim breaks away and runs after the group, but Joe chases him, shouting violent threats of severe punishment.
Joe catches up with Tim and throws him to the ground, then picks up a piece of driftwood and raises it to strike him savagely. Just then, the alien, shown in its hiding place among the rocks, suddenly blazes with light. Joe is thrown backwards forcefully, saving Tim. Terrified, Joe flees the scene.
Moments later, Tim joins the other children and Dave as they arrive at the alien's lair. Acting on its instructions, which it silently conveys to Bud, Dave gently carries the alien back to the trailer. Once there, Bud explains to his parents that they must keep the alien safe until the following evening, but he does not explain why. His mother Anne (Peggy Webber) is understandably frightened for her family's safety because of the possible threat this bizarre being from space might pose.
When Tim Gamble enters his own family's trailer, he finds Joe Gamble's dead body just as an ambulance arrives. In the next trailer, Bud and Ken tell their parents that the alien killed Joe because he threatened Tim's life.
The next morning, the Brewsters discover that the alien has doubled in size, now measuring several feet across. Dave Brewster receives a phone call from the base where the Thunderer is located, informing him that the rocket will be launched that night. Anne and he realize that the alien's purpose on Earth is somehow connected to the launch of the Thunderer. While Dave is still on the phone, Bud and Ken are shown carrying the alien out and taking it to a cave along the beach. Dave knows he must alert the authorities, and he hurries to the base to warn them about the possible threat from the alien. When he meets with Dr. Wahrman (David Bair) and Colonel Manley (Richard Shannon), though, his voice is suddenly paralyzed, and he passes out when he tries desperately to write a message.
During the next few hours, the children are shown quietly moving about the base, performing mysterious tasks while the alien exerts mental control over various people and objects, such as sentries and locked gates, to ensure that the children's secret mission is carried out.
Dr. Wahrman visits Dave Brewster in the infirmary; now fully recovered, Dave discovers that he is able to tell Dr. Wahrman about the alien. Wahrman realized that he, too, will be prevented from speaking to others about the alien, so the two men drive out to the cave in which the alien is now located. The alien has grown even larger, an unearthly mass of slowly pulsating tissue, glowing with an eerie light whose brightness varies from moment to moment. Dr. Wahrman tries to communicate with the alien, hoping to learn what it is directing the children to do, but the alien remains silent. Wahrman and Brewster give up and rush back to the base just as the Thunderer is about to be launched. They both realize that the alien will stop them from even trying to interfere.
When the countdown reaches zero and the launch button is pressed, an explosion within the nose cone destroys the nuclear warhead, rendering the Thunderer useless; the children have succeeded in sabotaging the warhead. Wahrman orders the soldiers to follow him back to the cave, where they confront the seven children as they calmly stand shoulder-to-shoulder, blocking the cave's entrance. Suddenly, the huge alien mass glides majestically out of the cave behind the children and rises up into the sky. As the adults gaze upward to watch the alien ascend on a beam of light like the one that brought it to Earth, Dr. Wahrman asks Bud why the Thunderer was destroyed.
Bud tells the adults that his group did what other groups of children have done in several other countries; they sabotaged the rockets that would have carried dangerous nuclear devices into space, making humankind's self-destruction too easy if such devices were ever used. The aliens were concerned about humankind's welfare, so they relied on teams of loyal children all over the world to prevent humankind from making a terrible mistake.
- Michel Ray as Bud Brewster
- Adam Williams as Dave Brewster
- Peggy Webber as Anne Brewster
- Johnny Washbrook as Tim Gamble
- Jackie Coogan as Hank Johnson
- Richard Shannon as Lieutenant Colonel Alan Manley
- Raymond Bailey as Dr. Wahrman
- Sandy Descher as Eadie Johnson
- Larry Pennell as Major Thomas
- Peter Baldwin as Security Officer James
- Ty Hardin as Sentry
- Russell Johnson as Joe Gamble
- David Bair as Saul Wahrman
- Johnny Crawford as Ken Brewster
- Eilene Janssen as Phyllis Manley
- Jean Engstrom as Peg Gamble
The Space Children was William Alland's first feature film with Paramount. It was loosely based on The Egg, an unpublished story by Tom Filer (involving a girl with polio) that was significantly different from the final plot of the film.
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Adam Williams, one of the industry's fastest-rising actors, portrays a rocket expert in Paramount's "The Space Children."