Rating: *** Threat: Alien weapon
Columbia. Written by John Mantley based on his novel The 27th Day; Photographed by Henry Freulich; Special effects (uncredited) by Ray Harryhausen; Edited by Jerome Thomas; Music arranged by Mischa Bakaleinikoff; Produced by Helen Ainsworth & Lewis J. Rachmil (executive); Directed by William Asher. B & W, 75 minutes.
Gene Barry (Jonathan Clark, LA newspaper reporter); Valerie French (Eve Wingate, British tourist); Arnold Moss (alien spokesman); George Voskovec (Klaus Bechner, German scientist); Azenath Janti (Ivan Godofsky, Soviet soldier); Marie Tsien (Su Tan, Chinese peasant); Stefan Schnabel (Soviet premier); Frederick Ledebur (Dr. Karl Neuhaus, U.S. nuclear scientist); Ralph Clanton (Ingram, U.S. national security advisor); Paul Birch (U.S. admiral and head, Joint Chiefs of Staff); Grandon Rhodes (UN secretary-general); Paul Frees (Ward Mason, television broadcaster); Mel Welles (Russian field marshal); Don Spark (Harry Bellows, a painter, Eve's friend); David Bond (Dr. Schmidt, Bechner's associate); Ed Hinton (commander); Mark Warren (Pete, news copy-boy); Monty Ash (Soviet prison doctor); Peter Norman (Soviet prison interrogator); Theodore Marcuse (Gregor, Soviet colonel); Sigfrid Tor (Zamke, Soviet general); Eric Feldary (Russian officer); Weaver Levy (Chinese officer); Robert Forrest (U.S. Air Force general, Joint Chiefs of Staff member); Charles Evans (U.S. Army general, Joint Chiefs of Staff member); John Dodsworth (British broadcaster); Jacques Gallo (French broadcaster); Mark Bennett (Gorki, Soviet spy); Arthur Lovejoy (Bracovich, Soviet spy); John Bryant (FBI agent assigned to protect Beckner); Michael Harris (younger FBI agent); Walda Winchell (hospital nurse); Tom Daly (Joe, bartender in LA); John Mooney (military police captain); Paul Bowker (U.S. Army doctor); Emil Sitka (newspaper hawker); Philip Van Zandt (cab driver).
This modestly budgeted Columbia feature could be basically described as an intellectual cliff-hanger, relying on a strong, well-conceived proposition. There are only a few action scenes in the entire story, but instead of becoming a boring “talking heads” drama, the film is a compelling tale about moral choices, and it generates a fair degree of tension. The apocalyptical threat is fairly unconventional. An alien doomsday weapon, designed as small capsules, is distributed to five earthlings, apparently at random. These weapons will remain active for twenty-seven days and will only destroy human life, leaving animals, buildings and plants unaffected. This premise sets up a well-crafted little thriller.