THEM! is a 1954 American black-and-white science fiction monster film
Warner Bros. Pictures , produced by
David Weisbart , directed by
Gordon Douglas , that stars
A nest of gigantic irradiated ants is discovered in the New Mexico
desert; they quickly become a national threat when it is discovered
that two young queen ants and her consorts have escaped to establish
new nests. The national search that follows finally culminates in a
battle with Them in the concrete spillways and sewers of
* 1 Plot
* 2 Cast
* 2.1 Cast notes
* 3 Production * 4 Reception * 5 In popular culture * 6 Attempted Remake
* 7 References
* 7.1 Notes * 7.2 Citations * 7.3 Bibliography
* 8 External links
General store owner "Gramps" Johnson is found dead, a wall of his store having been partially torn out. After a quick investigation, Sgt. Peterson leaves trooper Blackburn behind to secure the scene. Blackburn later goes outside to investigate a strange, pulsating sound; gun shots are fired, the sound grows faster and louder, and Blackburn's scream is heard.
Peterson's boss in
The FBI assigns
At the Ellinson campsite Pat encounters a giant, eight-foot-long foraging ant. Following instructions from the elder Medford, Peterson, and Graham shoot off the ant's antennae, blinding it; they then kill it with their Thompson submachine gun . Medford reveals his theory: a colony of giant ants, mutated by radiation from the first atomic bomb test near Alamogordo, is responsible for the killings.
Gen. O'Brien orders a helicopter search, and the skeletal remains of past victims are discovered near the ants' nest. Cyanide gas bombs are used, and Graham, Peterson, and Pat descend into the nest to kill any survivors. Deep inside, Pat finds evidence that two queen ants have hatched and have escaped to establish new colonies.
The elder Medford gives a briefing on ants to a government task force; they covertly investigate all reports of any unusual activity. One report shows a civilian pilot ( Fess Parker ) has been committed to a mental hospital after claiming that he was forced down by UFOs , shaped like giant ants. Next the Coast Guard receives a report of a giant queen hatching her brood in the hold of a freighter at sea in the Pacific; giant ants attack the ship's crew, and there are few survivors. The freighter is later sunk by U.S. Navy gunfire.
A third report leads Peterson, Graham, and Maj. Kibby to a large
sugar theft at a rail yard in Los Angeles. An alcoholic in a hospital
"drunk tank " claims he has seen giant ants outside his window. The
mutilated body of a father is recovered, but his two young sons are
missing. Peterson, Graham, and Kibby find evidence that they were
flying a model airplane in the
Peterson finds the two missing boys alive, trapped near the ants' nest. He calls for reinforcements and lifts both boys to safety, just before being attacked by a giant ant. Graham arrives with reinforcements and kills the ant, as others swarm to protect the nest. Peterson dies from his injuries. Graham and the soldiers fight off the ants, but a tunnel collapse traps Graham. Several ants charge, but he is able to hold them off with his submachine gun just long enough for troops to break through the collapse. The queen and her hatchlings are discovered and quickly destroyed with flamethrowers . Dr. Medford offers a philosophic observation: "When Man entered the Atomic Age , he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict".
Leonard Nimoy has a small, uncredited part as a U.S. Army Staff
Sergeant in the communications room.
* Other actors who appear in small parts include
John Beradino ,
Willis Bouchey ,
Booth Colman , Richard Deacon ,
Lawrence Dobkin , Ann
William Schallert ,
Douglas Spencer ,
Dub Taylor , Dorothy
Green , and Harry Wilson .
* When casting his planned Davy Crockett episode of the Disneyland
Opening title card with the background in black-and-white and
Warner Bros. was dissatisfied with the color results, the
film's titles were printed in a vivid red-and-blue against a
black-and-white background in order to give the film's opening a
dramatic "punch". This effect was achieved by an
Eastman Color section
spliced into each release print. The 1985
The entrance to the ants' final nest was shot along the concrete
spillways of the
Wilhelm scream , created three years earlier for the film Distant
Drums , is used during the action sequences: when a sailor aboard the
freighter is grabbed by an ant, when James Whitmore's character is
caught in an ant's mandibles , and when an overhead wooden beam falls
on a soldier in the
The giant ants, painted a purplish-green color, were constructed and
operated by unseen technicians supervised by Ralph Ayers. During the
climactic battle sequence in the
The sounds the giant ants emit in the film were the calls of Bird-voiced tree frogs mixed in with the calls of a wood thrush , hooded warbler and red-bellied woodpecker . It was recorded at Indian Island, Georgia, on April 11, 1947 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology .
From contemporary reviews, the
Monthly Film Bulletin stated that
despite the science fiction film genre being new it had developed
several sub-divisions including "the other-wordly, the
primaeval-monstrous, the neo-monstrous, the planet-ary-visitant, etc."
and that "
Since its original release,
IN POPULAR CULTURE
* ^ "Rentals" refers to the distributor/studio's share of the box office gross, which, according to Gebert, is roughly half of the money generated by ticket sales.
* ^ "The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954." Variety Weekly, January 5,
* ^ "Them!".
Turner Classic Movies . Retrieved April 24, 2016.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I Warren 1982, pp. 188–195.
* ^ Smith 2012, p. 167.
* ^ Herzberg 2007, p. 176.
* ^ A B Gebert, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (listing
of "Box Office (Domestic Rentals)" for 1954, taken from Variety
magazine). New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1996. ISBN 0-668-05308-9
* ^ Waldman, Katy (31 January 2013). "The Nuclear Monsters That
Terrorized the 1950s". slate.com. Retrieved 2015-10-22. Them!, a
cautionary tale about giant irradiated ants, was Warner Bros.’
highest-grossing film in 1954.
* ^ A B C "
* Herzberg, Bob. The FBI and the Movies. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2007. ISBN 978-0-78642-755-0 . * Mills, Peter. Hymns to the Silence: Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison. London: A&C Black, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8264-2976-6 . * Parish, James Robert and Michael R. Pitts. The Great Science Fiction Pictures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1977. ISBN 978-0-81081-029-7 . * Smith, Dave. Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered. New York: Disney Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4231-7857-6 . * Strick, Philip. Science Fiction Movies. London: Octopus Books Limited. 1976. ISBN 0-7064-0470-X . * Warren, Bill . Keep Watching The Skies Vol. I: 1950 - 1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v
* t * e
Films directed by Gordon Douglas
General Spanky (1936)
* Zenobia (1939)
Saps at Sea (1940)
* Broadway Limited (1941)
* The Great Gildersleeve (1942)
* Gildersleeve\'s Bad Day (1943)
Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943)
A Night of Adventure (1944)
* Gildersleeve\'s Ghost (1944)
Girl Rush (1944)
The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
Zombies on Broadway (1945)
First Yank into Tokyo (1945)
Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946)
* San Quentin (1946)
* If You Knew Susie (1948)
Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)
Mr. Soft Touch (1949)
The Nevadan (1950)
Fortunes of Captain Blood (1950)
Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950)
Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)
* Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)
The Great Missouri Raid (1951)
Only the Valiant (1951)
I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951)
Come Fill the Cup (1951)
Mara Maru (1952)
The Iron Mistress (1952)
* She\'s Back on Broadway (1953)
The Charge at Feather River (1953)
* So This Is Love (1953)