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THE 27th DAY (1957)
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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
Gordon, I'm pretty sure you're overthinking this.

My thought as well, as I read the analysis. Even if the screenwriter had been a student of Buddhism himself, the deep philosophical implications would certainly have been lost on all but other similarly knowledgeable viewers.
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud wrote:
Yes, Su Tan certainly seemed to be a Buddhist. But Buddhism does not condone suicide. So, why did she do it? I think it was because she knew what was at stake, as did the other four abductees.

Yes, she knew what was at stake.

So she:


Gord wrote:
How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at

(1) the intention behind the action,

(2) effects of the action on oneself, and

(3) the effects on others.

These last precepts explain why she acted as she did. Her screen time was short, but memerable, and exemplified her actions as within the precepts of Buddhism
.

Of course WHY she acted as she did is moot. The fact is she took the most logical, expedient path to negate the capsules in light of the peculiar and unusual circumstances. This is why I think she was more significant than some others might think.

Of course this was a vehicle for Gene Barry and Valerie French, so they are the focus of the story, not the other recipients of the capsules.

Regardless.....It's still a good flick and it does what only a few other movies do...It makes you think!
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Ah, good. It sounds like all this enjoyable thinking inspired by the movie has brought us a meeting of the minds. And while doing so, my respect for this film has increased significantly. It's proven itself to be one the most thought-provoking science fiction movies of them all! Very Happy

On a minor note, I question this remark:


Gord Green wrote:
Of course this was a vehicle for Gene Barry and Valerie French, so they are the focus of the story, not the other recipients of the capsules.

I beg to differ, sir.

The subplot involving the Russia soldier is a key element of the story, and I've mentioned several ways in which the moral choices and admirable actions of both Ivan and Su Tan demonstrated that the other three abductees took a terrible risk by not disposing of the capsules in some very finite manner the minute they returned to Earth.

Considering the possibility that lightweight containers would probably float means that when Valerie French threw her capsules into the ocean, the little box would probably wash back to shore in a day or so!

The British government knew exactly where she'd tossed them into the sea, and a mammoth effort to search for them in that area after the alien's world-wide announcement would have probably succeeded!

So, we have two characters who made tremendous sacrifices to save the human race from annihilation, and three other characters who played fast-and-loose with the fate of mankind!
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely so, Bud. But the focus of the film was on the two "name" stars. The rest were "supporting actors" even though as story elements they were significant in their defining the plot.
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Maurice
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I still think you're all rationalizing Su Tan's actions to cover the Hollywood-normal of only allowing westerners to be actual characters.

And with that, I'm done with this topic and this film. Outta.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

__________________________________

Don't give up yet, Maurice! Very Happy

I received the novel in the mail from Amazon a few days ago, and I was pleased to learn that the author-screenwriter, John Mantley, provided a much more detailed description of the scene in the spaceship. I can now offer a wealth of interesting facts which should clear up some of our disagreements about this fine film.

The movie gave us a very abbreviated version of that important scene in the spaceship, which of course was necessary in a 75 minute movie.

And, of course, there were elements of the plot in the novel which I did NOT anticipate. However, I think they answer some of your objections to the film's less detailed story.

Here's what I mean.


Maurice wrote:
. . . the single token non-white from some unspecified generic east Asian country has not a single line of dialog and conveniently offs herself right away so we can forget about her immediately.

In both the movie and the novel, the girl was identified by the alien as being Chinese, and he even stated the province she was from when he identified the five people in the world-wide TV broadcast.

As for her lack of dialog, in the book the only dialog she and Ivan the Russian solder have is to introduce themselves to the others when the five people exchange names after the group is given an hour to discuss whether they wish to accept the capsules.

Yes . . . they were given a choice, and they debated that choice at length, because there was a terrible consequence if they refused, as shown in the excerpt below.

Eve's voice was tense with emotion as she spoke. "I'm almost afraid to ask this question, but — to whom are you intending to give this weapon"?

"To each of you."

"Oh, no!"

"What if we refuse to take it'? Jonathan said, a sharp edge of anger in his voice.

"Then it will be given to the rulers of all your nations. At the advice of the Galactic Council, we offer it to you five first — because it has been said, with some justice, that it has never been the people themselves that cause a war, but their leaders. If you refuse to accept this charge, we have no choice but to put the weapon in the hands of those who, I am afraid, will be less scrupulous about its use."

"The ultimate ultimatum," whispered the professor.

"Will you accept it"?

The professor glanced inquiringly at the other four. It was Jonathan who answered. "Look, you can't just ask us to make up our minds whether we will accept the responsibility for our entire race like that. You've got to give us time to discuss it among ourselves."


I'm sure you see where this is going, Maurice. Very Happy

The five people, despite a language barrier for two of the group, do indeed voice their concerns about the horrible choice being forced on them. One of your chief objections is that Su Tan seemed so passive, never objecting to what she was being forced to do.

Read on and you'll see that John Mantey never meant for us to assume that about Su Tan!

The alien grants the group an hour to talk it over, and he leaves them alone until the time is up. After some verbal back-and-forth about whether or not the alien is telling the truth about how powerful the weapon is, the following exchange takes place.

The professor lapsed into silent contemplation of the problem until Eve interrupted. "Professor, Jonathan, let's forget about everything else. We've only got an hour. Are we going to accept this horrible bomb, or aren't we"?

The professor came out of his reverie. "Precisely, my dear," He said. "The point is, do we have any real choice"?

"Wouldn"t it be better to let them give it to the governments as they suggest?" Eve said. "At least they'd know what to do with it."

"Would they?" Jonathan said gloomily. "Look where they've put us already with a weapon far less powerful than this one. Do you really believe they're capable of not using it, or are you just ducking the responsibility?"

"That's not fair," Eve protested. "I didn't ask to be brought here. I don't want the responsibility for the rest of the race on my shoulders."

"You don't want it?" Jonathan's tone was caustic. "Do you think the rest of us are turning handsprings for joy? Why is it that all women have to assess every situation in terms of personal inconvenience?"

Eve's eyes flashed fire. "I've always heard that Americans were the rudest people in the world. You've just proved it."


The argument about how untrustworthy the governments of the world would be if they were given the weapon continues for another half-page, making it very clear that the five people are well aware of the danger the world faces.

Finally the three English speakers come up with a plan.

Eve was smoldering, but she tried not to show it. "Couldn't we make a pack'? she asked. "I mean, couldn't we decide among the five of us here to keep this a secret and not reveal to anyone that we have the bomb — or whatever it is — until the twenty-seven days are up?"

"The three of us could," Jonathan said coldly, "but what about him'? He looked toward the Russian, who was sitting alone on his couch, hands on this knees, gazing at the floor.

"For that matter, what about her?" Eve countered, pointing to the Chinese girl. "She looks as if she had every reason to hate the whole world. Does anyone speak Chinese or Russian?"

The professor and Jonathan both shook their heads.

"Then we can't even ask them to join us."

"What good what it do?" Jonathan demanded. "How do we know the Russian wouldn't agree to the plan and then give the bomb to the Central Committee as soon as we got back to earth? How do we know any of us will keep our word'?


The trio then introduce themselves to Ivan and Su Tan, giving them their names and offering handshakes. They discover that both of them are eager to communicate in some way so they can deal with the horrible situation.

Through a series of pantomimes and hand gestures, Jonathan uses a pencil stub from his pocket to serve as a symbol for the weapons (which none of them have seen yet). He makes it clear to Ivan and Su Tan that the pencil stub represents a bomb, simply by pointing at the pencil and shouting "Boom!" several times while flinging his free hand outward to indicate an explosion.

The Russian soldier and the Chinese girl indicate that they understand the symbolism as a reference to what the alien said they would be given.

With Eve's help, Jonathan then acts out a simple scenario in which he clutches the pencil stubbornly while Eve picks up Ivan's rifle and actually aims it at him. She even pokes him hard in the stomach with it! Eve shouts and gestures, clearly demanding that Jonathan give her the pencil-weapon. Jonathan shakes his head no repeatedly and clutches the pencil tightly in his hands behind him.

Next, the professor and Eve repeat the pantomime, with the professor also refusing to relinquish the pencil even when Eve threatens him with the rifle.

Ivan and Su Tan indicate that they understand the importance of the situation and the simple wordless message; "Guard the alien weapon with your life!"

A touching scene follows this odd ritual, and it proves to the reader that all five understand the plan they've made, despite the language barrier they managed to overcome.

After Eve aims the rifle at Ivan and he demonstrates his own understanding of the plan by holding the pencil behind him with one hand and shaking his head violently just as the others did, he takes the wordless message one step further by reaching out for the rifle Eve holds, gripping it by the muzzle, and actually puling it slowly towards him until it's pressed against his chest!

Clearly Ivan is willing to sacrifice his own life to protect the capsules. Here's how Mantley describes what happened immediately after that.

Eve exhaled with relief and tossed the gun to the nearest couch, then she took the boy's hand in hers. Suddenly, a third hand was placed upon theirs. Eve looked up to find the professor smiling gravely.

"You were fine," he said. He looked toward Jonathan. "Both of you."

Jonathan glared for a moment and then abruptly grinned wryly. He took a step forward and placed his hand on theirs. "All for one, and one for all," he said.

Their eyes turned toward Su Tan. She was standing as if in trance, her face expressionless, her eyes distant. Then, as if some sixth sense told her she was being observed, she moved her head slowly in their direction. She saw the clasped hands and came towards them. Her hand drifted down to rest on theirs. A strange, almost primitive rite, yet there was no mistaking its meaning. They were pledged to a common cause. The world's first pact among its simple people to preserve the dignity of man.

The professor broke the silence. "I think we have done all we can. Shall we announce our decision?"


The alien then returns and compliments the group on their brave efforts to work together. He then presents the capsules in the boxes and explains how they are activated — all very much like what we see in the movie.

As for Su Tan, the novel contains some disturbing and important information that was not in the movie. Prior to her abduction, the soldiers we see in the film killed her entire family on their small farm . . . and then Su Tan was brutally raped.

When she is returned to Earth there are two pages of description about how she's convinced that the rape will prevent her from ever bearing children — a terrible fate that devastates her. Based on the murder of her family and the brutal treatment she has endured, she is fully aware of what the cruel communist government will do with the capsules.

Unlike the movie, she does not kneel down in front a large statue of Buddha and commit hari kari (a Japanese custom, not Chinese).



That scene made it look as if she was "offing herself" for religious reasons. I opposed the idea that her suicide was motivated by religious devotion. I was sure this was not the case.

I'm pleased to report that the novel proved me correct. She does indeed pray briefly before committing suicide, but the novel makes her strong reasons for killing herself very personal and very logical.

Su Tan goes into her home and takes a "handmade knife with a rough bone handle" from a shelf, and then —

. . . she turned to the miniature shrine of Buddha across the room. She took a few steps toward the shrine and knelt down. Her lips moved in inaudible prayer.

She raised a hand to her bosom and pushed once, twice, firmly. She made no sound as the knife entered her heart. After a second the body crumpled to the floor. Beneath the transparent cover of the black box there flared a light of incredible, blinding brilliance. When it faded, the box was unharmed, but inside where the three capsules had been there were three tiny mounds of gray powder.


That one reference to the miniature statue is the only mention of Buddhism. As I stated in an earlier post, Buddhism does not condone suicide, so there's really no reason to think her sacrifice was prompted by anything other than her own despair over the loss of her loved ones, her sadness at not being able to bear children, and the concern she feels for the population of the world if the capsules are acquired by the Chinese government.

Based on the novel, I think my earlier assumptions about the movie are correct. And this new info from John Mantley allows us to address some of the concerns you had, Maurice, which were based on the movie alone.


Maurice wrote:
The weapons themselves make ANYONE capable to the power of a superpower, ergo the test doesn't require a powerful world-threatening nation, just a human being who'd be tempted to use or unlock it for others to use.

It's true, of course, that any of the five abductees could use the capsules or give them to someone else.

But the novel states that the aliens (the Galactic Council) deliberately picked average citizens from the super-powers (the ones most likely to start global wars) and lets them decide what to do with the capsules. And if they refused to accept them, they would be given to the governments of the five super-powers the people were from.


Maurice wrote:
My issue with Su Tan is that the film deigns not to give her any voice at all, even though The Alien can understand her, and through him, we could, too. Sure, she might be the only one with nothing to lose, sure she might still off herself, but she's the only one of the 5 who's non-white and also conveniently the only one who doesn't get a single line of dialog or any characterization AT ALL.

Although it's true that the movie didn't have time to provide all the elaborate characterization (and drama) which the novel presents, John Mantley did find a clever way to allow both Su Tan and Ivan to express their opinions in non-verbal ways, and to be part of the decision-making process concerning what the group should do.

Your insistence on dismissing all that as meaningless is puzzling.


Maurice wrote:
My point about anti-dramatic is that a well rounded portrayal of humanity would admit that there are some even on the side of the angels who might be tempted to use the weapons out of fear or in a desperate attempt to forestall enemies from getting to do it first. It's more dramatic when people consider the devil on one shoulder and turn their back on it after hearing him out than never noticing him at all.

The novel addresses this concept very thoroughly. The excerpts I transcribed are only from a few pages that describe the scene in the spaceship, but that scene goes from pages 15 to 37 — all of chapters 2 and 3!

During that scene, the five abductees discuss all the possible choices they have — from turning the capsules over to their governments, to hiding them until the twenty-seven days were up. In the end they agree to protect the capsules at all costs. Ivan even indicated (WITHOUT dialog) that he would die before surrendering the capsules!

So, John Mantley presented several pages of detailed descriptions in which the five people did in fact "consider the devil on one shoulder and turn their back on it after hearing him out" . . . just as you said, Maurice.


Maurice wrote:
My main comment remains that they refused to give the only non-white even one line of dialog. I am well aware of its time, but that was a chickenshit decision. Let's hear her concerns before she offs herself, let's let her espouse and then personify this Buddhist way of thinking.

She did exactly that (wordlessly, of course) when she joined the others in vowing to protect the capsules, but her suicide clearly had nothing to do with Buddhism. She understood that humanity was at risk, and that these five people were its only hope.

Maurice wrote:
She's not allowed to have an opinion or express it either through word or action other than offing herself. Even on the spaceship she passively picks up the device when told to. If you were a pacifist, would you pick up a ticking bomb that you were told was going home with you? She could have refused, and The Alien could have then told her that she can't refuse, or if she does, someone who will take the weapon will be found instead, in which case she'd take it and off herself to prevent anyone getting it.

She is utterly passive every step of the way except offing herself. She's a non-character whose thoughts we must infer from the single action she is allowed to make.

In the movie, yes, her thoughts had to be inferred. But I'd like to point out that I inferred them correctly, as verified by the more detailed description the author gave us in his novel.

I assumed that, for the sake of time constraints in this rather short film, we were expected to grant the story some leeway and accept the premise that they would be sent back to Earth with the capsules.

The book addresses the deeper concerns a reader would have, given time to ponder the concept. For example, the alien answers several questions put to him, such as what would happen if only a portion of the Earth's population is wiped out if one-or-more nations chose to use their capsules.

The alien explains that if one-third of the population survives, the aliens would share the uninhabited portions of the planet, but they would not in any way interfere with the human population! Shocked

Impressive thinking on the part of Mr. Mantley. None of us thought of that eventuality, did we? Confused

However, the novel makes it clear that none of the five people were given any choice but to accept the capsules to prevent them from being turned over directly to their individual governments — five world super-powers who were strong enough to threaten world peace.

That was a major point I made earlier, and I was pleased to learn I was right.

And the five people also understood that if they didn't ALL agree to guard the capsules with their lives, it would be pointless. It had to be unanimous or the ones who didn't agree might give the capsules to their governments.


Maurice wrote:
And I still think you're all rationalizing Su Tan's actions to cover the Hollywood-normal of only allowing westerners to be actual characters.

I really don't understand why you think our enthusiasm for this move is an attempt "to cover the Hollywood-normal of only allowing westerners to be actual characters".

After all, Su Tan was played by an unknown actress who portrayed a humble Chinese peasant girl in a brief (but pivotal) non-speaking role. Her stunned appearance, her lack of actions, and her silence aboard the alien ship were consistent with this poor, down-trodden young girl, who had just witnessed the murders of those closest to her.

She had just been abducted by an alien while kneeling beside the body of a murdered man (possibly her father) — and that's exactly where she found herself again when she returned.

But her brave sacrifice to save billions of lives — an act which fulfilled the vow she made on the spaceship with her fellow abductees — demonstrated a definite depth of character. The novel describes the hour-long debate and discussion the five people had (some of which was in wordless pantomime) before they all vowed to protect the capsules with their lives.

And, as I've maintained all along, that's exactly what Su Tan did.

As for your assertion that it's the "Hollywood-normal" to deny non-whites significant character roles, I do agree that minorities had a rough time getting roles in the past, and stereo-types were all-too frequent.

But I'd hardly call the situation you described as the "Hollywood-normal".

The names listed below are just a few examples of the many talented and respected Asian actors we've all enjoyed for decades. Clearly, Hollywood has a long history of employing Asian actors in both starring and supporting roles, despite the prejudices they endured.
________________________________

Benson Fong - 86 film and TV credits between 1936 and 1986, including these.

Conquest of Space (1955) - A major character whose speech about the need for space exploration is the best dialog in the movie.

Perry Mason (1958 - 1961) Four appearances, all major characters.

Flower Drum Song - Major character in a starring role (and this hit musical's cast is 95% ASIAN!).

Our Man Flint (1966) - One of three brilliant scientist who try to take over the world.

Kung Fu (1972 - 1974) Four appearance as major characters.
________________________________

Nancy Kwan 54 credits in films and TV series, including starring roles..

The World of Suzie Wong (1960) The starring role in her film debut!

Flower Drum Song (1961) Starring role in Roger's and Hamerstein's nearly all-Asian musical.

Hawaii Five-O (1968-1969) Four appearances in a popular TV series set in Hawaii, where you can't swing a dead Siamese cat without hitting Asians, so the series was the same way. Very Happy

The Wrecking Crew (1968) - Starring role in a Matt Helm film.
________________________________

James Hong 423 credits in films and TV series between 1954 to the present, including these.

Hawaiian Eye (1960-1961) Four appearance in a series set in Hawaii, which included MANY Asian characters.

Flower Drum Song (1961) - Yes, that movie with the cast that's 95% Asian.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) - Major role as a computer scientist.

Hawaii Five-O (1969 - 1974) - Yes, that series with plenty of Asian characters.

Kung Fu (1972-1975) - Nine appearances. (And there's lots of Asian actors in this show, too.)
________________________________

Philip Ahn 84 film and TV credits between 1933 and 1979, including these.

Halls of Montezuma (1951) Major role as a captured Japanese general.

Hawaiian Eye (1960-1962) Four appearances.

Perry Mason (1962) One appearance

Bonanza (1960-1964) Four appearances.

Hawaii Five-O (1968-1972) Four appearances

________________________________

Keye Luke 217 credits in films and television from 1934 to 2012.

Kung Fu (1972-1975) 46 appearances as a major character.

(Are we seeing a trend here, Grasshopper?) Laughing

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Bogmeister
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

___________
THE MIGHTIEST SHOCKER THE SCREEN EVER HAD THE GUTS TO MAKE!

__________

An alien (Arnold Moss) gives 5 people in various parts of the globe these special capsules which can destroy the Earth - or a good section of it, at least. Directed by William Asher.

_____________________ The 27th Day Trailer


__________


Yeah, it took guts to release this film, even in the fifties. It offers a pretty radical overview of what should be done with 'correct' thinking people and 'bad' thinking people.

The latter are simply killed; the former are rewarded by the death of their enemies.

When I first watched this years ago, I did figure that everyone in Asia had been wiped out. When I watched it again on TCM's sci-fi night, this time I heard the broadcaster's specific words: all the enemies of freedom were wiped out, so that may mean only the political / military leaders and their most ardent followers in that area are killed.

I'm not sure.

Of course, the whole point, it seems, was to empty certain areas on Earth of a populace, so that aliens can move in. So, again, this may mean Everyone in Asia is dead at this film's conclusion.



The only other thing I wonder about is the motivations of these advanced / superior aliens. It seems to me that much of this film's story revolved around a test for we Earthlings by the advanced aliens.

So, if someone like the clever German scientist (George Voskovec) figures out the correct way to use these death capsules, we have passed the test — and, only the evil half of the populace gets destroyed. Rolling Eyes

However, we barely passed! The good scientist just managed to deduce the puzzle at the last minute.

So, in an alternate scenario — which could very well have happened — the Northern American populace would have been killed and then what? The Soviet Union would rule the world, not invite the aliens over, and the aliens would shrug, perishing in a nova explosion?

These advanced aliens seemed to be playing very high stakes poker — with half the Earth's population. I'm not sure I would have invited them over as a member of the American winning circle.

BoG's Score: 5 out of 10

Some interesting facts: Star Trek TOS actor alert! the alien was played by Arnold Moss, who has a deep, distinctive, kind of hypnotic voice; he guest-starred in the TOS episode The Conscience of the King and had a lot of experience in Shakespearean roles. This film was one of the rare times a contemporary sci-fi novel (by John Mantley, who also wrote the screenplay) was immediately adapted. Columbia Pictures bought the rights to the soon-to-be-published novel in early 1956. The 27th Day opened in July 1957 on a double bill with 20 Million Miles to Earth.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Holy mackerel, Bogmeister outdid himself on this one! He's come up with some brilliant observations and conclusion that none of us thought of, anywhere on this thread! Shocked

I wish Bogmeister had been around when we debated the way the Chinese peasant girl was treated in the movie, along with my comments based on the important information the author / screenwriter revealed in the novel — which put a whole new slant on the issue.

I'd really like to know what he would have thought about that whole debate.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMDb: Marie Tsien as Su Tan (uncredited).
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Another fine version of a full movie on YouTube! This one has a great picture, and it was submitted a year ago, so YouTube has had plenty of time to remove it.

If you haven't seen this fine movie, download it and join the fan club! Cool
________________________________


____________________ The 27th Day (1957)


__________

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