Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Out of Thin Air

OUT OF THIN AIR (1969). Directed by Gerry Levy. Starring George Sanders, Patrick Allen, and Neil Connery.

In this British science-fiction effort (also known by the alternate titles The Body Stealers and Invasion of the Body Stealers), the military is baffled when a group of paratroopers inexplicably vanish in mid-jump. An assortment of experts are called in, each fulfilling an archetypal stock role: The macho but intelligent military man (Patrick Allen), the "almost-as-good-but-purely-secondary-and-thus-relegated-to-sidekick-status" inventor (Neil Connery), the concerned officer-in-charge (George Sanders), the wise old scientist (Maurice Evans), and "the girl" (Hilary Dwyer). The characters don't get any deeper or more interesting than that.

The movie's low budget (most of it apparently spent on the aerial skydiving footage) falls short of its ambitions, resulting in its alien-abduction premise being more verbal than visual. While this talkiness isn't necessarily a bad thing (other low-budget efforts such as the Quatermass films and your typical '60s Doctor Who episode pulled it off successfully), director Gerry Levy was unable to sustain my interest.

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

Academy Award-winning actor George Sanders appears bored (as he proably was), going through the motions as the deskbound general. The most curious bit of casting is the appearance of Neil Connery (Sean's younger brother, immortalized in the MST3K fodder Operation Kid Brother a.k.a. Operation Double 007) as the intrepid aviation/parachute expert. While he shares a strong resemblance with his more famous brother and appears to have a certain amount of the Connery charisma, he falls far short of replicating Sean's talent or screen presence...though I'm unsure whether that can be blamed on Neil or on the colorless character he was called upon to play.



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