The 1958 film I Married A Monster From Outer Space tells the story of Marge (Gloria Talbott) and Bill Farrell (Tom Tryon).
Just one year ago, they seemed like the perfect couple. They were newlyweds, looking forward to starting a family and living in a nice house in the suburbs. Bill seemed like the perfect guy, warm, friendly, humorous, and loving.
However, things have changed. On their one-year anniversary, Bill is cold and distant. He certainly seems to have little interest in romance or anything like that. When Marge gives Bill a new dog as his anniversary present, he doesn’t seem to be sure how to react to it. When the dog later ends up dead, Bill gives her an implausible excuse.
Bill has changed but he’s not the only one. Marge notices that all of her friend’s husbands are acting strange as well. It’s as if something has magically turned every man into the neighborhood into a stiff, humorless jerk.
(Either that or it’s the 50s!)
One night, Marge decides to follow Bill into the forest and she sees something that challenges everything that she previously thought she knew about her husband. What does she discover? Well, it’s right there in the title. Marge has married a monster from outer space!
I imagine that most people’s natural instinct with a film like this is to make fun of the title and just go on from there but actually, I Married A Monster From Outer Space is an intelligent and well-done sci-fi film. Gloria Talbott does a great job in the lead role and Tom Tryon’s rather stiff screen presence is perfectly suited for the role of Alien-Bill. Gene Fowler, Jr. directs the film as if it were a film noir where the usual gangsters and bank robbers have been replaced by humanoid aliens who don’t like dogs.
Since this movie is from 1958, there’s all sorts of subtext creeping around. The most obvious, of course, is that America is being invaded from within. You don’t think your husband could be an alien? Well, Alger Hiss’s mother probably didn’t think her son was a communist spy! You think it’s a silly idea that normal seeming humans would be working to conquer the world? Have you not heard of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg? When Bill and the other men turn cold and impersonal, it’s easy to see that they’ve embraced an ideology opposed to individual freedom and we all know what that means.
However, for me, this film works because it strikes at a very primal fear. How well do you really know the people who you love? Is he always going to be as perfect as he seems when you first start going out or is he going to totally change once he’s sure that you’re not going to leave him? Like many women who have tried to escape from abusive boyfriends and spouses, Marge discovers that no one believes her. She lives in a world controlled by men and all of the men have been taken over by the same thing that’s taken over Bill. Even if you’ve never married a monster from outer space, you know what Marge is going through.
So, don’t dismiss this film because of the melodramatic title. I Married A Monster From Outer Space is an intelligent sci-fi horror film, one that’s still relevant today.