One of the great sci-fi classics, a Hawks film in all but director credit (he produced, planned the film, supervised the shooting). The gradual build-up of tension, as a lonely group of scientists in the Antarctic discover a flying saucer and its deadly occupant, is quite superb; while The Thing itself (played by Arness) is shown sufficiently little to create real menace. As in most of Hawks' work, the emphasis is on professionalism in a tiny, isolated community, on a love relationship evolving semi-flippant fashion into something important, and on group solidarity. Also characteristic is the contrast with a film like Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still (made the same year), which took a liberal stand in exposing the stupidity of men when confronted with an alien. Hawks rejects out of hand the idea that the alien might be worth trying to understand or communicate with; in fact, the scientist who tries to do this is made to seem feeble and even inhuman, so that the overall message of The Thing emerges as distinctly hawkish. Reactionary or not, though, it's still a masterpiece.
Cast and crew