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Who Goes There

Cast / Characters

Margaret Sheridan as Nikki Nicholson
Kenneth Tobey as Patrick Hendry
Robert Cornthwaite as
Dr. Arthur Carrington
Douglas Spencer as Ned Scott
James Young as Lt. Eddie Dykes
Dewey Martin as Crew Chief Bob
Robert Nichols as
Lt. Ken 'Mac' MacPherson
William Self as Corporal Barnes
Eduard Franz as Dr. Stern
Sally Creighton as Mrs. Chapman
James Arness as 'The Thing'
Paul Frees as Dr. Voorhees
John Dierkes as Dr. Chapman
George Fenneman as Dr. Redding
David McMahon as General Fogerty

The film was loosely based on the 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. The screenplay was by Charles Lederer, with uncredited rewrites from Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht. The novella was originally published in Astounding Science Fiction under Campbell's pseudonym Don A. Stuart. The film took full advantage of the national feelings of the time to help enhance the horror elements of the story.

The film reflected a post-Hiroshima skepticism about science and negative views of scientists who meddle with things better left alone. In the end it is American servicemen and several sensible scientists who win the day over the alien invader.

The screenplay changes the fundamental nature of the alien as presented in Campbell's novella: Lederer's "Thing" is a humanoid lifeform whose cellular structure is closer to vegetation, although it must feed on blood to survive; reporter Scott even refers to it in the film as an "intellectual carrot." The internal, plant-like structure of the creature makes it impervious to bullets but not other destructive forces.

In Campbell's original novella, the "Thing" is a life form capable of assuming the physical and mental characteristics of any living thing it encounters; this characteristic was later realized in John Carpenter's 1982 remake of the film. One of the film's stars, William Self, later became President of 20th Century Fox Television.

In describing the production, Self said, "Chris was the director in our eyes, but Howard was the boss in our eyes." Appearing in a small role was George Fenneman, who at the time was gaining fame as Groucho Marx's announcer on the popular TV show You Bet Your Life. Fenneman has said he had difficulty with the overlapping dialogue in the film.

There is debate as to whether the film was directed by Hawks with Christian Nyby receiving the credit so that Nyby could obtain his Director’s Guild membership, or whether Nyby directed it with considerable input in both screenplay and advice in directing from producer Hawks for Hawks' Winchester Pictures, which released it through RKO Radio Pictures Inc.

Hawks gave Nyby only $5,460 of the $50,000 director's fee that RKO paid and kept the rest, but Hawks denied that he directed the film. Cast members disagree on Hawks' and Nyby's contributions.

Tobey said that "Hawks directed it, all except one scene" while, on the other hand, Fenneman said that "Hawks would once in a while direct, if he had an idea, but it was Chris' show".


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References and Excerpts:,

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD | Screenplay by Charles Lederer 8/29/1950

Based on the story WHO GOES THERE? by John W. Campbell Jr.

SFMZ Note: This extensive plot description is a combination of imdb's
synopsis, excerpts from the script, and our own scene descriptions.

Fade in, night: The snow piled streets at Anchorage, Alaska. A wind blows. The street is empty. A bundled figure moves through the street toward a low roofed lighted building. A sign outside the building reads: "Officers Club, Anchorage, Alaska." The figure continues into the club.

Officers Club Room, midnight: This is the social center for U.S.A. flying men roosting in the polar regions. The air base is near Anchorage, Alaska - a commuting hop from the Arctic Circle. It is early winter. The night in Anchorage is long and dark. In the room, two of the gaming tables are occupied. At one sits a four handed bridge game. At the other sit three men playing poker.

Radio music: an American Service Broadcast - is coming a bit feebly into the room. All is cozy and steam-heated in the room. The three poker players are three men who are to be active in our story. One is W.O. Ken 'Mac' MacPherson. He is a tough, taciturn radio man. He has seen service everywhere, heard nearly all the languages and drunk nearly all the different brews of the earth.

The second is Captain Pat Henry, in his early thirties. Captain Henry has been a flyer since he shed his first stocking cap. He is a man of whimsey and temper and also mood. The third is Lieutenant Eddie Dykes, a tall man under thirty. The overcoats, boots, ear-lapped military hats of the aviators lie on an unused table nearby.

The figure is surveying the poker players as he removes his wrappings. He is Ned Scott, a newspaper correspondent. A voice comes over the P.A. speaker calling for Captain Henry to report to General Fogarty's quarters at once. Henry rises from the table and puts on his overcoat.

General Fogarty's Quarters, night: A living room with a fire going in the fire place. The room is fairly well furnished. Some war trophies are on the wall, including a piece of a Japanese aeroplane, a Jap sword, and other important war souvenirs. Three men are in the room. One is General Fogarty, in his forties; the second is the adjutant of the post, Major Smith.

The third is Corporal Hauser from the post's communication center. The door opens and a blast of freezing air hits the room as Captain Henry enters. He closes the door. Corporal Hauser opens the door and exits, letting another blast of cold into the room. The General shivers, scowls and grumbles.

The United States Air Force crew is dispatched by General Fogerty from Anchorage, Alaska at the request of Dr. Carrington, the chief scientist of a North Pole scientific outpost. They have evidence that an unknown flying craft crashed nearby, so Reporter Ned Scott tags along for the story.

The C-54 plane is flying through a dimly lit sky. Below are cloud banks. In the plane are W. O. MacPherson, Ned Scott, Navigator Lieutenant Ken Ericson and Light Engineer Corporal Barnes. Captain Henry is flying the ship, Lieut. Dykes is beside him. MacPherson is at his radio instrument.

A dozen huskies and several sleds are in the plane, plus a pile of other cargo tied down under tarpaulin. MacPherson reports something's coming through. Henry, Eddie and Navigator Ericson put on their head phones and listen.

Someone's made an error, Henry requests the navigator to give him a new heading. The radio man they heard on the other end was Hendrix - talking for Carrington. He wants Henry to correct their compass reading twelve points East. A magnetic disturbance is whacking away at everything.

A view far below of the sprawling polar settlement, we see small dots of roofs on a flat expanse of snow. The plane starts descending towards Polar Project Camp. The C-54 makes a landing on skis some two hundred feet from the largest of the low looming buildings. The arrivals drop out of the plane door. A half dozen Eskimo workers belonging to the camp hurry toward them.

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