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18. What are the various Quatermass films and the names they go under?




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This article is from the rec.arts.sf.movies FAQ, by Evelyn C. Leeper evelynleeper@geocities.com with numerous contributions by others.

18. What are the various Quatermass films and the names they go under?

Nigel Kneale wrote three television Quatermass plays for the BBC in
the 50's the last one ended just a week or so into 1959. Each one was
more popular than the previous one. The last one was so popular that
churches had to change their hours because people were staying home to
watch the play. Each of the three involved the adventures of British
rocket scientist Bernard Quatermass foiling an unusual sort of invasion
from outer space. Each was in six 40-minute episodes shown one a week.
Hammer Films took the three stories and adapted each into a film. Each
was renamed in the U.S.

BBC Play	Film Title	    U.S. Retitling of film
  
The Quatermass Experiment
		The Quatermass Xperiment
				    The Creeping Unknown
  
Quatermass II
		Quatermass II
				    Enemy From Space
  
Quatermass and the Pit
		Quatermass and the Pit
				    Five Million Years to Earth

The last, as far as I can tell, invented the concept of uplift that
David Brin has been using to great advantage. The last film, in my
opinion, is the best science fiction film ever made, richer in ideas
than most science fiction novels I have read. Incidentally, the
"Xperiment" was an invented word to emphasize that the film had gotten
the X-certificate.

In the late 70's Nigel Kneale was convinced to do one final Quatermass
TV play and did "The Quatermass Conclusion." This time it was not
adapted into a film but the play was edited into a feature-length story
of the the same name. It went directly to cassette and is available in
this country.

Each of the plays was published in paperback and in their original
editions are quite valuable. They were reissued about the time of the
last TV play in the late 70's along with a novelization of "Quatermass
Conclusion." There was also an episode of "The Goon Show" (great
British radio comedy series starring Harry Secomb, Spike Milligan, and
Peter Sellers) entitled "The Scarlet Capsule" which lampooned the play
"Quatermass and the Pit."

Of the stories there is no common agreement as to whether QUATERMASS II
or QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is better, but I generally rank QUATERMASS
AND THE PIT (a.k.a. FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH) as being one of the
best science fiction films ever made. Recently the original TV-play
has become narrowly available in this country. I would claim that the
play is even a little better than the film made from it. It is a
little slower at three hours, but in the film the explanation at the
end is a little terse and hard to follow. Things are better explained
in the play.

Actors who have played Quatermass:

QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (1953): Reginald Tate
QUATERMASS II (1955): John Robinson
QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1958): Andre Morell

QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955, us: THE CREEPING UNKNOWN): Brian Donlevy
QUATERMASS II (1957, us: ENEMY FROM SPACE): Brian Donlevy
QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1968, us: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH): Andrew
Kier

THE QUATERMASS CONCLUSION (1980): John Mills

Also

THE GOON SHOW: THE SCARLET CAPSULE (1959): Harry Secombe as Prof. Ned
Quartermess. (Looseley based on QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, but for the
Goons it is amazingly faithful to the story. Kneale loved it.)

[This part contributed by Mark R. Leeper (mark.leeper@lucent.com).]

 

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