The 27th Day (1957) – Friday Night At The Home Drive-In

Poster for The 27th Day (1957)The 27th Day (1957) by #WilliamAsher
#GeneBerry #ValerieFrench

An alien hoping to take over Earth gives five different nations a powerful weapon and tells them if they resist using it for 27 days, Earth will be spared.

“Five people given the power to destroy nations! What will they do? What would you do?”
“Mightiest shocker the screen ever had the guts to make!”


The 27th Day (1957) opens on a beach, as a woman in a bathing suit comes out of the water and approaches a man who is painting a picture. They are both British characters, judging by their accents. The woman’s name is Eve, and she goes to sit by herself and dry off while the man continues to paint. Suddenly, a shadow falls over Eve and a voice asks her to come with him… She looks up and is horrified by what she sees…

In California, a newspaper reporter is typing at his desk when a shadow appears above him and a strange voice says “Come with me…” The reporter looks up and is horrified…

All over the world, people are minding their own business when a strange shadow appears  before them and speaks in a strange voice, “Come with me…”

Next thing we see is a flying saucer…

What the heck is going on here?

Without giving too much away, all of the characters wind up together inside that flying saucer. They have been handpicked for an important assignment – or experiment – by an alien from another planet.

Where did this idea come from?

The 27th Day (1957) was based on a novel by John Mantley. I had never heard of him, but a quick search on the internet revealed that he was Canadian – born in Toronto in 1920 – and that he was Mary Pickford’s cousin! In fact, he exchanged a series of letters with her during World War II, which became the basis of his first novel, The 27th Day.

Mantley went on to act, write, and produce for television. He spent about ten years producing Gunsmoke and went on to work as a producer on shows like The Wild Wild West, Dirty Sally, How The West Was Won, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. How did I not know about this guy?

So everything in the movie comes from the book?

Well… The 27th Day (1957) struck me as another movie that may have been influenced by The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). At least it did, until I read that the novel may have been based on letters written during World War II. But then again, who knows how much the story changed over time? And perhaps in the wake of the success of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the movie departed even further from the book. And, of course, The Day the Earth Stood Still was based on the 1940 science fiction short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates. So maybe John Mantley had read that story and…

But perhaps I’m getting off track.

Tell me more about the plot of The 27th Day.

In The 27th Day (1957), an alien explains to a bunch of handpicked earthlings that they (as earthlings) possess a very dangerous weapon, the atomic bomb, and if they use it, they will not only destroy themselves but the entire planet. The alien cannot allow this.

He offers each of the humans an alternative weapon which, if used, will only destroy human life and leave the planet unharmed. He gives them 27 days. If they do not use the weapon in that time, it will be rendered harmless. If enough of them choose to use it, all human life on Earth will be destroyed, and the planet will be free for the aliens to use for their own purposes.

Seems like an easy enough challenge to win – but the catch is that each of these handpicked humans is from a different country, many of which are at war – or Cold War – with each other.

Is The 27th Day any good?

The 27th Day is a more serious minded movie than the typical late night drive-in movie that I tend to program on a Friday. It’s thoughtful and intelligent, and deals with some big issues. As such, it’s not as much fun as some of my #NotQuiteClassicCinema favourites. And while it may never reach the heights of a true classic like The Day the Earth Stood Still, it’s a good movie that’s certainly worth watching at least once on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.




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