When people think of 50's sci-fi B-movies, they conjure up images of
poor special effects and monsters that obviously look like a guy in a
that was created in someone's garage. That wasn't always the case
and one good counter example is The Magnetic Monster, a picture
through United Artists that has recently seen the light of day once
through MGM's MOD program. This is a well scripted solid SF film,
to have been a pitch for a TV series, about a group of scientists that
down strange and unusual phenomena in the atomic age. Much better
the typical 50's SF low-budget fare, the movie has ironically been
forgotten. Hopefully this release will remedy that situation.
Dr. Jeffrey Stewart (Richard Carlson) works for the Office of
Investigation (O.S.I.). They are a governmental organization
charged with looking into any odd phenomenon that might occur, just the
that the FBI handles large criminal investigations. One morning
gets a call from a police station that they have a report that
in an appliance store has become magnetized. Stewart and his
investigate and with the help of a Geiger counter discover that a
element was being held in an office on the second floor, but now it's
What's more, their main clue is the body of a man who died from
The O.S.I. starts tracking down the missing radioactive element, and
the do find it they discover more than they bargained for. It's a
accidently reacted by a nuclear scientist doing some unauthorized
that is not only strongly magnetic, but also one that creates mater
energy and doubles in size every eleven hours. At the rate it's
it will get so large as to throw the Earth out of its orbit and destroy
life on the planet. It's up the Dr. Stewart and the members of
OSI to discover some way to stop this menace.
This was a surprisingly intelligent movie. While the scientific
have their problems and are a bit dated, the plot is firmly rooted in
which is something you can only say about a very few movies from that
Their discussions of magnetic monopoles, alpha particles, geometric
and other scientific concepts might not be the equivalent of the
lectures, but they at least got the broad ideas correct and made a
attempt to put 'science' into science fiction.
The film plays out more like a scientific version of Dragnet than
else. Dr. Stewart, who narrates too, is always giving the date
time, just like Sgt. Joe Friday did in the famous police show.
movie follows the procedures they use to track identify what's causing
magnetic anomaly, and then find out what happened to the element before
showing how they solve the problem of what to do about the dangerous
It's exactly like a police procedural, except with a Geiger counter and
computer called MANIAC.
While I enjoyed the film, it's easy to see why it is largely forgotten
Despite the title, there really isn't a creature just an uncontrollable
locked in a can. Instead there's a lot of talking and, let's face
more than a little purple prose and scientific techno-speak. I'm
the audiences of 1953 that saw the film on its original release felt
Added to that is the fact that the film doesn't do a very good job of
tension, even at the end. Even with these flaws it's an
film that works much better than it should.
The film comes with the original mono soundtrack and it sounds
Nothing to write home about, but there's really not a lot to complain
either. The dialog is easy to hear and there isn't any
The unrestored1.33:1 black and white image looks very good, especially
such a forgotten B-grade film. The lines are tight and the level
detail is good. The contrast is excellent too. Viewers will
very pleased with the way this disc looks.
The only extra is a trailer for the movie.
The Magnetic Monster is a scientific procedural that is much
than most of the other 50's sci-fi B-movies. Grounded in science
without a silly looking monster, the film is actually quite good.
mostly forgotten film, this MGM MOD disc is a great chance for a new
to discover it. Recommended.