9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"A strange animal. Like nothing you're ever seen before...",
This review is from: 20 Million Miles To Earth [DVD]  (DVD)
"20 Million Miles to Earth" offers a pair of interesting oddities when it comes to the realm of Fifties science fiction films. First, the monster comes from Venus, which, you have to admit, is pretty unusual. Usually Venus produces beautiful blondes, not reptilian bipeds. Second, the monster runs amuck in Rome, whereas we tend to expect the creature from another planet to wreck havoc on New York (or Tokyo if it is a terrestrial monster). This is a rather low-keyed story, where the chief pleasures are derived from Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion special effects. As our thrilling story begins an American spaceship returns from Venus and crashes off the shore of Sicily. Only one astronaut, Colonel Robert Caulder (William Hopper) survives, to be tended by Marisa Leonardo (Joan Taylor) an almost doctor, who feels no need to feign an Italian accent, unlike others in the cast, although most of the accents sound more Spanish than anything else to my ear (as does some of the ethnic music). Even more amazing, it takes a while for anybody from the government, local or American, to show up for the spaceship's crew (at which point the locals are confused by the idea of visiting Venus rather than Venice, which makes me somewhat surprised the climatic battle is not in the city of canals).
Meanwhile, Pepe, a boy from the local fishing village who drams of earning 200 lire to buy a cowboy hat, discovers a strange egg, which he promptly sells to Dr. Leonardo (Frank Puglia). The small creature grows rapidly and eventually attains a heigh of 20 feet as it starts cutting a path of destruction through the streets of the Eternal City. Fortunately Colonel Caulder is around to offer helpful exposition (apparently the crew discovered you cannot breathe on Venus, but only after many of them stopped dropping dead), but the film comes down to Harryhausen's special effects with the Ymir and the pathos he creates for the creatures who is stranded on a planet millions and millions of miles from home (think King Kong with scales). This is mainly because every time the action focuses on the humans the dumb dialogue really starts to get to you. Still, it is nice to go back to those good old days when a couple of American military officers could throw around a bunch of lire and do what they want in a foreign country where everybody apparently understands English if they are not actually speaking the language. "20 Million Miles to Earth" is pure B-movie entertainment, owing all of its success entirely to Harryhausen's stop motion animation with the Ymir, because you will end up rolling your eyes at just about everything else in this 1957 film (unless, of course, you have yet to hit puberty and are inclined to giggle at the insipid romance between the astronaut and the almost doctor).
Finally, boys and girls, let us consider the scientific validity of the title. Is Venus 20 million miles from earth? Well, Venus is 67 million miles from the sun and the Earth is 93 million miles from the sun. So that is a difference of 26 million miles, BUT that assumes the two planets are on the same side of the sun and on the same plane and all sorts of other fun things. At any given moment the planets could be anywhere from 26 million to 160 million miles away from each other. But would a title "26 to 160 Million Miles From Earth" really work? I think not.