Ahhh, Cold War era sci-fi movies are always interesting to watch. I mean, you have all the basic elements of a sci-fi movie, with aliens or monsters or futuristic technology, but you get the nice “free world vs evil communism” plot line to go with it. Now I honestly never heard of today’s movie before today. It is simply one of several movies that are in a Vintage Sci-Fi collection I got for Christmas. Now to see just how good of a movie The 27th Day really is.
The plot: Englishwoman Evelyn “Eve” Wingate is coming back onto the beach after a swim and talks with her friend, who is painting his interpretation of the coastline. As she prepares to go for a walk, she is approached by a figure, who asks her to come with him, and as she shrinks back in fear, a strange light envelops her. In Los Angeles, a reporter named Jonathan Clark is typing a story when he is also approached by the strange figure and asked to come with him. The figure also grabs a Chinese villager named Su Tan, whose village was being attacked by Chinese soldiers, a German physicist named Professor Klaus Bechner, who was preparing for a trip to America, and a Soviet soldier named Ivan Godofsky. The 5 people find themselves on board an alien ship and wondering how they got there when they are approached by an alien, who says to refer to him as The Alien. The Alien explains that they will be returned to Earth unharmed and as if no time has passed, but they were chosen to act as representatives of Earth. The Alien explains that humanity, as it now stands, has the power to destroy itself, but will also destroy the Earth as well, and The Alien’s race cannot permit that. He says that his planet will be destroyed in 35 days and his people hope to relocate to the Earth, but they do not believe in invasion. He then gives each of the a container with three capsules inside, saying that the capsules have the power to wipe out all of mankind, and only humans will be harmed, leaving everything else intact. Only the 5 of them can open their specific containers but once opened, anyone can use the weapons, which will be active for 27 days. If the 27th day has passed, or the person dies, then the weapons will become inert and humanity will be spared, while The Alien’s race will die and after explaining everything, The Alien sends the humans back to Earth, with Eve asking Jonathan his last name and where he lives before they leave. Eve comes too at the beach and, finding the container in her hand, she quickly rushes to a nearby cliff and throws it into the sea. Su Tan is returned to the wreckage of her village and she heads back inside her house and, after saying a quick prayer to Budha, proceeds to commit suicide. Eve calls Jonathan and tells him that she is flying out to Los Angeles, despite his protests that she stay where she is. Later, as Jonathan is getting coffee, The Alien commandeers radio and television broadcasts around the world and announces to the world about the 5 people and the weapons they possess. Jonathan quickly leaves the diner and goes into hiding, then picks up Eve when she arrives at the airport. Klaus is struck by a car as he is crossing the street and taken to a nearby hospital. After the doctor examines him, he tells a waiting scientist that Klaus won’t be able to talk for a few days and the scientist tries to figure out the container Klaus was carrying. In Russia, Ivan is captured while trying to escape his superiors and brought before a general, who begins questioning him about the container. Ivan only gives vague answers concerning the container and the general dismisses him, but orders a subordinate to begin interrogating him. Jonathan and Eve hide out at a race track that isn’t in use, getting news from a radio as to what is going on. Klaus is questioned about The Alien and the box but he tells the authorities that he doesn’t believe that The Alien actually intended harm to the human race. Two Soviet agents attempt to kidnap Klaus and the container but they are shot and killed by the agents protecting Klaus. When the report comes out on the attempt on Klaus’s life, as well as a report of someone looking like Jonathan being killed by a mob, Jonathan decides to turn himself in to the government. Meanwhile, Ivan had gone into shock through the interrogation methods so the general chooses to give him sodium pentothal to coax Ivan into telling him the truth about the container. When the Soviets spread word that the know how the weapons work, Jonathan, Eve, and Klaus are brought to the Pentagon to answer some questions and they admit the truth about them. Klaus wants to study the pills, believing that there was something that the Alien had said that indicated they could be used to help mankind instead of destroying it, but the officials refuse and decide to test one of them in an isolated part of the ocean. Meanwhile, the Soviet general tells his council that he is issuing a demand for the withdraw of all United States military forces from Europe or else he will use the capsules to kill everyone in North America. When they get the ultimatum, the generals, along with Jonathan, Eve, and Klaus, are told that the military has decided to make a test to see if the weapons work and Dr. Newhouse reveals that he gave himself a lethal dose of radiation, so that he could be used as a test subject. The group head out to sea, where the conduct the test and Newhouse is disintegrated, while the animals on the raft with him where left unharmed. As the US troops begin their withdraw, Jonathan and Klaus believe that the Soviets will use the weapon at the last second to attack North America and then take it over when there is nobody to defend it. Klaus asks to study his remaining capsules, and when he finds a mathematical equation on the capsules, he asks to see Jonathan’s so that he can have the complete equation. In the Soviet Union, the general receives word that his men are in position and starts reading out the coordinates in North America but Ivan, coming out of his stupor, rushes him and knocks the container out of his hands, where it falls to the street below, but is shot in the process. The general yells at his men and says to keep Ivan alive while he goes to the street to retrieve the pills. Back on the ship, Klaus deciphers the message and begins using the 5 pills in the room, as the others hear him and try to stop him. When he finishes, he opens the door and Jonathan asks him where the pills are and Klaus says he used them to save the world. At the same time, the Soviet general reaches the street and grabs the pills but a high pitched sound causes him intense pain before killing him. Radio reports come in from around the world that a high pitched sound wave has blanketed the Earth and killed anyone that was a known enemy of human freedom. Klaus explains that the Alien had said the pills contained the power of life and death, meaning they could be used to save mankind. With Earth in a new time of world peace, radio messages are sent out to the Alien’s race, inviting them to live on Earth in peace with mankind and The Alien accepts, saying the pills were a test to judge the character of mankind and that there are thousands of planets waiting to welcome the Earth.
I have to admit that this is actually a pretty good movie and definitely one that makes you think after watching it. The acting was pretty good, with the Gene Berry (Jonathan), Valerie French (Eve), and George Voskovec (Klaus) doing a good job in their roles. The plot was pretty good, with the story of 5 different people being given weapons capable of destroying all of mankind and what they do with it. I also liked the varying actions that the people took with the weapons; with Jonathan and Ivan choosing to keep them from being used, Klaus wanting to study them, while Eve and Su Tan chose to remove the temptation to use the weapon, Eve by throwing her container in the sea and Su Tan by killing herself and rendering the weapon useless. The Cold War effect on the movie was also well utilized, with the Soviet and US forces both rushing to find the weapons when they learn about them, and trying to figure out how to use them when they do. There really wasn’t much in the way of special effects as this movie relied more on suspense and drama to really move the plot along. The best thing about this movie is the fact that it makes the audience wonder what they would do if they were placed in such a situation. A really good movie that is worth watching.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5