AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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20 Million Miles to Earth
Alternate Title: The Giant Ymir
Director: Nathan Juran (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1957
Production Date:   Sep 1956 in Rome Italy; 30 Oct--9 Nov 1956 in the United States
Duration (in mins):   82, 84 or 86
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   William Hopper (Col. Bob Calder)  
    Joan Taylor (Marisa)  
    Frank Puglia (Dr. Leonardo)  
    John Zaremba (Dr. Judson Uhl)  
    Thomas B. Henry (Major A. D. McIntosh)  
    Tito Vuolo (Commissario of police)  
    Jan Arvan (Signore Contino)  
    Arthur Space (Dr. Sharman)  
    Bart Bradley (Pepe)  
    George Pelling (Mr. Maples)  
    George Khoury (Verrico)  
    Don Orlando (Mondello)  
    Rollin Moriyama (Dr. Koroku)  

Summary: Off the coast of a small Sicilian fishing village, two fishermen watch in amazement as a spaceship pierces the skies and crashes into the sea. The men, Mondello and Verrico, row out to the site and pull two space travelers from the capsized craft before it shudders and sinks into the sea. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Maj. A. D. McIntosh discovers that the government’s missing spacecraft, piloted by Col. Bob Calder, has been located off the coast of Italy. As McIntosh flies to Italy, Pepe, a little boy who lives in the fishing village of Gerra, finds a metal capsule that has washed up on the beach. Upon opening the capsule, Pepe finds a jelly-like glob inside and sells it to Dr. Leonardo, a visiting zoologist who is studying sea creatures. Meanwhile, Leonardo’s medical-student granddaughter Marisa is summoned to town to take care of the injured Calder and his companion, Dr. Sharman. When Calder regains consciousness, he finds Sharman in the last throes of the fatal disease that decimated his crew. That night, after Marisa returns home to the trailer that she shares with her grandfather, a small creature hatches from the glob and Leonardo locks it in a cage. By morning, the creature has tripled in size. That same morning, McIntosh arrives in Gerra, accompanied by government scientist Dr. Justin Uhl, and meets with Calder and Signore Contino, a representative of the Italian government. As Leonardo and Marisa hitch up the trailer containing the creature to their truck and head for Rome with their discovery, McIntosh informs the astonished Contini that Calder has just returned from Venus. Calder’s spacecraft, crippled by a meteor, was carrying a sealed metal container bearing an unborn species of animal life from the planet. As police divers begin to search for the capsule, McIntosh offers a reward for its recovery, prompting Pepe to come forward and lead them to the empty container. When Pepe tells them that he sold its contents to Leonardo, who is currently on his way to Rome, McIntosh and Calder take off after him. That night, when Leonardo stops the trailer, he discovers that the creature has grown to gargantuan size. Soon after the creature breaks out of his cage and flees, Calder and the others arrive. Confused, the beast blunders onto a nearby farm, terrorizing the animals. After trapping the behemoth in the barn, Calder explains that it is not dangerous unless provoked. Ignoring Calder’s admonition, the farmer plunges a pitchfork into the beast, causing it to go berserk and attack him. After distracting the beast with gunfire, Calder rescues the farmer and they flee the barn, locking the incensed Goliath inside. When the creature breaks out of the barn and disappears into the countryside, the commissario of police insists that it be destroyed, but Calder pleads with him to reconsider. After the Italian government grants Calder permission to track and capture the creature, he devises a plan to disable it by ensnaring it in a giant electric net dropped from a helicopter. The Italian police, meanwhile, conduct their own pursuit, shooting the creature with flame throwers. Aware that sulfur is the creature’s food of choice, Calder uses the mineral as bait, luring it to a secluded site and then subduing it with an electric jolt from the net. Later, at the American Embassy in Rome, McIntosh briefs the press corps on the situation and allows three reporters to view the creature, which is incarcerated at the Rome zoo. There, Calder explains to the reporters that the beast has been incapacitated by a strong anaesthetic, thus allowing the scientists to study it. Marisa, who is there aiding her uncle, begins to flirt with Calder. Suddenly, the electrical equipment shorts out, releasing the creature from its stupor. Breaking free, the beast enters into combat with an elephant, sending the panicked zoo visitors running for their lives. As the rampaging beasts lumber into the streets of Rome, Calder tracks the creature to the Tiber River, where it submerges. When the military lobs bombs at the submerged creature, the angry beast surfaces, bursts through a bridge and heads for the Colosseum. As the creature disappears into the vast cavern of the Colosseum, Calder charges it with a group of bazooka-firing soldiers, driving it to the top of the ruins. After Calder scores a direct hit with his bazooka, the creature tumbles to his death on the ground below, after which a relieved Marisa runs into Calder’s arms.  

Production Company: Morningside Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Nathan Juran (Dir)
  Larry Butler (Spec eff dir)
  Eddie Saeta (Asst dir)
  Octovio Oppo (Asst dir)
Producer: Charles H. Schneer (Prod)
Writer: Bob Williams (Scr)
  Christopher Knopf (Scr)
  Charlott Knight (Story)
Photography: Irving Lippman (Dir of photog)
  Carlos Ventigmilla (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cary Odell (Art dir)
Film Editor: Edwin Bryant (Film ed)
  Art Clark (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Robert Priestley (Set dec)
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff (Mus cond)
Sound: Lambert Day (Sd)
Special Effects: Ray Harryhausen (Tech eff created by)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp. 1/7/1957 dd/mm/yyyy LP9006

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Science fiction
Subjects (Major): Aliens, Extraterrestrial
  Space exploration
Subjects (Minor): Bazookas
  Coloseum (Rome)
  Falls from heights
  Rome (Italy)

Note: The working title of this film was The Giant Ymir . The film opens with an offscreen narrator explaining: "Great scientific advances are often times sudden accomplished facts before most of us are even dimly aware of them. Breathtakingly unexpected, for example, was the searing flash that announced the atomic age. Equally unexpected was the next gigantic stride when men moved out of his very orbit to a point more than 20 million miles to earth." Although the ^Var review lists Thomas Henry's character as "Major McIntosh," he is addressed as "General McIntosh" throughout the film. HR news items add Sid Cassell, Darlene Fields, Terence Maples, John Sorintino, Michael Garth, Jerry Riggio, Saverio LoMedico and Noel Drayton to the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       According to several Aug 1956 HR news items, location filming was done around Rome, Italy in Sep 1956. According to a modern source, William Hopper was the only principal actor involved in the Rome footage. The modern source adds that the illusion of the creature was created by using a rubber and metal puppet about one foot tall that was moved, one frame at a time, by hand. The special effects scenes were filmed one month after the live action sequences were completed. According to the source, special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen appeared as an extra in some of the zoo scenes. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   15 Jun 1957.   
Daily Variety   12 Jun 57   p. 3.
Film Daily   17 Jun 57   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Aug 1956   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Aug 1956   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Oct 1956   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Oct 1956   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Oct 1956   p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Oct 1956   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Nov 1956   p. 5, 10.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 57   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   15 Jun 57   p. 418.
Variety   12 Jun 57   p. 18.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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