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The War of the Worlds

A key sci-fi film of the 1950s, George Pal's THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is a vividly realized adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel, updated from 19th century London to 20th century California. Though it's bogged down by a stiff cast, a yawn-inspiring conventional romance, and a sappy religiosity, it remains a landmark in the history of special effects. The lumbersome triopods of the Wells novel are jettisoned in favor of cool, green, slickly contoured flying saucers that fire death rays accompanied by one of the most fondly remembered sound effects in screen history. Filmed on a relatively modest budget of $2 million ($1.3 million went to special effects), THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was a solid box office hit.