'This is not government issue, is it, sir?' Ken Tobey and Robert Cornthwaite at right.
Written for inclusion in The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide:
Howard Hawks assigned Christian Nyby, his editor on To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and Red River, to direct this excursion into sci-fi horror, one of the few genres he hadn't yet worked in. Although the producer graciously insisted in interviews that Nyby had made a fine job of it, in later years surviving cast members had no hesitation in asserting that Hawks did most of the picture himself (and nothing Nyby ever directed on his own came close to equaling it). Hawks and screenwriter Charles Lederer disposed of the Thing's diabolical shape-changing ability that played such a big part in the excellent John W. Campbell Jr. story and would be restored in the 1980 John Carpenter remake. But James Arness's incarnation of the towering, literally bloodthirsty "intellectual carrot" is fearsome, and the siege atmosphere of a small band of humans clinging to viability in a distant iceworld is powerfully realized. A cadre of solid character actors work wonders with the most-overlapping dialogue in any Hawks film. The emphasis on the brave resiliency of the human voice in extremis is further underscored by the presence of such familiar voiceover/announcer types as George Feniman and Paul Frees. -RTJ