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  Bubble, The Life Under Glass
Year: 1966
Director: Arch Oboler
Stars: Michael Cole, Deborah Walley, Johnny Desmond, Kassie McMahon, Barbara Eiler, Virginia Gregg, Vic Perrin, Olan Soule, Chester Jones
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Young marrieds Mark (Michael Cole) and Cathy (Deborah Walley) are in a light aircraft piloted by Tony (Johnny Desmond), but they are desperate to find a place to land because Cathy is about to have her baby. To make matters worse, a violent storm blows up, but Tony manages to see what he thinks are the landing lights of an airstrip below and takes the plane down. Where the trio find themselves is on a remote stretch of road, and when a taxi draws up they climb in to head for the nearest hospital. But there's something strange about the town they stay in - somebody doesn't want them to leave...

Arch Oboler, the auteur who proffered the world this slice of low budget science fiction, made his name in radio, which might explain the amount of talk that goes on in this film. He surely does like to have his characters chatter, but as this is at the expense of the action the feeling that encroaches over the viewer of The Bubble is, alas, boredom. However, there's one point of interest: the film was made in three dimensions, or "Space-Vision" if you prefer, which adds novelty value if nothing else.

In fact, the 3-D effects have a habit of falling back on the conventions that eventually made it something of a joke, that is, thrusting objects into the camera in the hope you'll make the audiences jump or duck. So you can see up a can-can girl's skirt (a bit like in House of Wax, only more impoverished with just the one dancer), or experience the true excitement of a man putting up a poster - it's as if you actually are a wall! Otherwise, it's a little ho-hum as Oboler slots in these instances every ten minutes or so; enjoy that floating tray of beer while it lasts.

In some ways The Bubble was a predecessor to the television mystery series Lost, especially in the manner in which it studiously avoids explaining what precisely is going on in the hope it will keep you watching. Effectively in this film you're led along a path that sees its three main characters muse over what's happened in this nameless small town without getting any answers, and don't expect satisfaction by the ending. Apart from those three, the others in town wander around carrying out basic duties as if in a trance, repeating stock phrases.

Which might have been how Oboler directed the film as well, because there is a trance-like state to its lack of real thrills but abundance of enigmatic incidents. After Cathy has safely had her baby, it takes the couple a while to twig that all is not as it seems, but eventually they realise they have to get the hell out of there before the strange shadow from the sky sucks them up into the air, as happens to some of the townsfolk. But they're trapped due to an impenetrable glass shield surrounding the town and countryside, so Mark (Tony having gone off on his own) has to work out a way to get through without attracting the attention of... what? Space aliens? The Devil? God? What was Oboler trying to say? By the "making it up as they went along" plotting, it looks as if he didn't know either and was simply keen to show off his 3-D. Music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter.

Aka: The Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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