Sunday, July 5, 2009

Picture perfect moment

It's certainly no coincidence that there can be found a close likeness between Leigh (Laurie Zimmer) from John Carpenter's first movie* Assault on Precinct 13 and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) from the Howard Hawks produced The thing from another world.
Honestly they could be sisters, or given the space of time between them (from '51 to '76) mother and daughter. Carpenter is an honest fan of Hawks' movies, you can see this influence in his work and you don't even need to know that Assault is cited as being a modernized take on Hawks' Rio Bravo to notice it, Leigh alone is a dead give away of the fact.
Just look at her: She's the continuation of Hawks' heroines, a modern, independent woman that doesn't sit around waiting for rescue but is willing and able to take things in her own hands. Headstrong, resourceful women that’s what they were, Hawks' leading ladies, and the same trait finds itself again in Carpenter’s heroines.
Leigh is also a foreshadowing of Carpenter's pet project, the six years later The thing from another world like Assault before it is more than just a mere remake of a Hawks movie, Carpenter’s take orients itself closer on the story the original was very freely based upon (John W. Campbell's Who goes there?).

Notable about original The thing from another world is a key dialogue sequence that can easily be called ‘Father of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’ when the scientists explain that James Arness is in truth a intelligent alien giant carrot from a planet on which vegetables took the evolutionary course animals have taken on ours. What’s further interesting to see is that when sighting the promotional shots for the movie non of them betrays to the uninformed eye that Nikki is in all actuality not the genre conventional damsel in distress but a resourceful character in her own rights.

*that is if we discount Dark Star as a graduation project that wasn’t planned for cinematic release.

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