The film was directed by Joseph Newman. The screenplay was written by Franklin Coen and George Callahan (who received credit as “Edward G. O’Callaghan”). The film was adapted from Raymond F. Jones’ novel of the same name.
This isn’t the only time that Sven has shown “This Island Earth” on Me-TV. He had previously showcased Newman’s film back in Oct. 2012 (Me-TV was unavailable in the Frederick/Washington, D.C. television market until early 2013), April 2015 and Jan. 2016.
Who was in “This Island Earth?”
The players who appeared in “This Island Earth” were Regis Parton (in an uncredited role as the Mutant), Jeff Morrow (as Exeter), Lance Fuller (as Brack), Faith Domergue (as Dr. Ruth Adams), Russell Johnson (as Dr. Steve Carlson), Rex Reason (as Dr. Cal Meacham), Robert Nichols (as Joe Wilson), Richard Deacon (in a non-credited role as a pilot), Olan Soule (in a non-credited role as a reporter) and Coleman Francis (in a non-credited role as a deliveryman).
Shortly before “This Island Earth,” Russell Johnson appeared in another cult Universal sci-fi feature, “It Came from Outer Space” (1953)*. He would later play the role of “The Professor” in the 1964-67 TV series, “Gilligan’s Island.”
Coleman Francis would later direct several Z-budget features in addition to his acting career, including “The Beast of Yucca Flats” (1961), “The Sky Divers” (1963) and “Red Zone Cuba” (1966). The three aforementioned low-budget films of Francis would be riffed on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
Released in “Perspecta Sound”
According to IMDB’s technical specifications on “This Island Earth,” Universal Studios released the film in “Perspecta Sound.” The Perspecta audio system was introduced to cinema exhibitors in 1954 as an optical sound device that created “simulated” stereophonic sound from a monophonic soundtrack, according to the American Widescreen Museum site.
Promotional gimmicks for “This Island Earth”
Universal’s publicity department encouraged cinema exhibitors to heavily promote “This Island Earth” with local merchants and businesses. According to an article from “Film Bulletin” in 1955, several promotional tie-ins were suggested to theater owners (including official “Metaluna play money,” a “space sound record” for playing in the lobby and more).
41 years later: “This Island Earth” was riffed by Mike and the Bots in “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie”
The 1955 Universal sci-fi feature was riffed in the theatrical film version of MST3K, titled “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie” (1996). The MST3K theatrical riffing of “This Island Earth” included Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu (who did the vocal stylings of Crow T. Robot and also appeared as mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester), Kevin Murphy (who did the vocal stylings of Tom Servo) and Jim Mallon (who provided the vocalizations for Gypsy).
“This Island Earth” might have inspired another iconic sci-fi feature (from a rival studio)
According to Turner Classic Movies’ trivia portal on “This Island Earth,” Universal loaned a copy of the film to rival studio Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. MGM released their own sci-fi epic in 1956, titled “Forbidden Planet” (directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox, featuring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen and Marvin Miller, who voiced “Robby the Robot”).
Be sure to watch Svengoolie’s showcase of “This Island Earth” this Sat. on Me-TV!
If you’ve seen “This Island Earth” before (or if you’ve seen the MST3K “feature film” version), you will not want to miss Sven’s presentation of the 1955 Universal sci-fi thriller this Sat. on Me-TV!
With an ensemble cast, Bud Westmore’s “Metaluna Mutant” make-up design, along with Sven’s fun facts, Doug’s tune of the week and Kerwyn’s mail corner, you will not be disappointed!
*A vintage Universal sci-fi gem that Sven has showcased before!
Sat., June 24 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central on Me-TV
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3 (over-the-air)/Comcast 196
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Comcast 208 (“Svengoolie” is time-delayed to 11 p.m. due to TV-11’s 10 p.m. newscast on their Me-TV sub-channel)
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Comcast 248 (Sven is also time-delayed on WGAL-TV 8 due to their 10 p.m. newscast on their Me-TV sub-channel).
“Walk this way:” Major news from a fellow Sven fan!
During the fun live-tweeting session of Svengoolie’s presentation of “The Mummy’s Tomb” (1942) back on June 10, fellow super Sven fan Jamie Lee announced that she will be appearing as Elizabeth Benning in the upcoming PM&L Theatre production of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” (based off Brooks’ 1974 smash comedic farce, which was adapted into a Broadway stage musical in 2007) in Antioch, Illinois!
According to the PM&L Theatre website, the stage production of “Young Frankenstein” will be taking place at the venue from July 28-Aug.13 (Fri and Sat. evenings at 8 p.m. and Sun. afternoons at 2:30 p.m.). Tickets are now on sale (through the PM&L Theatre site)! Fellow fans of Sven in his hometown of Berwyn/Chicago may not want to miss out on Jamie’s upcoming performance in the PM&L production of “Young Frankenstein!” From all of us fellow jammers, fans of Sven and “Young Frankenstein” (from coast-to-coast), congratulations, Jamie! -C.H.
Watch Russell Johnson as “The Professor” In “Gilligan’s Island” on Me-TV (Weekday afternoons at 5:30 p.m. Eastern/4:30 p.m. Central), as part of the network’s “The Summer of Me” lineup (consult local listings).