The ABC's of Film Noir
The ABC's of Film Noir

World Without End (1956) Classic Movie Review 28

World Without End (1956)

World Without End (1956)

Armageddon. The slaughter of humanity. An atomic war no one wanted, but which no one had the wisdom to avoid.

World Without End (1956) is an excellent post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale with a great cast that includes Hugh Marlowe, Rod Taylor, and Lisa Montell.

Rough Script – World Without End (1956)

I didn’t expect much when I began watching this movie but it is a pretty solid piece of sci-fi. I was originally drawn to watch this movie because it stared Hugh Marlowe, one of the great actors of black and white sci-fi. We are linking off an actor that was uncredited in this film – Strother Martin from Episode 17 Hard Times (1975).

The title of this film comes from an Anglican doxology: “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

This film was produced by Allied Artists (formerly Monogram Pictures). They hoped to shed their third rate image. This film had a large budget, was shot in color, and had CinemaScope. The movie opened on a double bill with Indestructible Man (1956).

Hugh Marlowe was cast as John Borden one of 4 modern 1957 explorers from Earth to Mars. Born in Pennsylvania Marlowe had a radio, stage, and film career. I will confine myself to just the films at this point.

World Without End (1956)

World Without End (1956)

Marlowe’s first film was Married Before Breakfast (1937). His films included Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Twelve O’Clock High (1949) as a critical character in this fine story along with Gregory Peck , All About Eve (1950), Night and the City (1950), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Rawhide (1951), Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) as the lead Earth scientist, Elmer Gantry (1960), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964).

When Marlowe’s film days were over he was on the soap opera Another World from 1969 until his death in 1982 at the age of 71.

Nancy Gates was in the role of Garnet. Is that a stripper name? Anyway Garnet was a smoking hot subterranean post-apocalyptic human. Nancy Gates was born in Texas in 1926. She started her career early signing with RKO at 15. Her first film was

Nancy Gates was born February 1, 1926, in Dallas, Texas. She entered show business, at an early age, when she was signed to a contract with RKO Studios when she was 15. Her first film was Hitler’s Children (1943). Gates filmed two other films in 1942; The Great Gildersleeve (1942) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Gates was busy the next year with Gildersleeve’s Bad Day (1943), Behind the Rising Sun (1943) and This Land Is Mine (1943).

By 1949 she stopped starring in movies until she was 26. In 1952 she acted in However, after 1949, Nancy didn’t appear in another film until she was 26 years old. In 1952, Nancy acted in Target Hong Kong (1953), Suddenly (1954), Some Came Running (1958), and Comanche Station (1960).

Nancy left acting to be with her family. She had 34 films on her dossier, along with a host of television appearances.

Nelson Leigh played the leader of the Earth expedition Dr. Eldon Galbraithe. IMDB and Wiki both say that he was born in Mississippi but they don’t say where. That covers a lot of ground. It is like being born in New York? In his career, he had 130 acting credits, with most of them being on television. Besides World Without End (1956) he had roles in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Pilgrimage Play (1949). He died in 1985.

Rod Taylor was the third member of the Earth crew Herbert Ellis. Okay, I’m used to watching Rod Taylor in his smoking jacket running around in his time machine. This movie showed me what a manly actor this Australian really was. Taylor came to Hollywood in the 1950s and began working his way up with supporting roles. This lead to his casting as George – HG Wells in The Time Machine (1960). A strong case could be made that this was indeed his best film. He was also cast as the male lead in Hitchcock’s thriller The Birds (1963), Sunday in New York (1963) with Jane Fonda, The Train Robbers (1973) with John Wayne, The Catered Affair (1956) with Bette Davis (1956), and 36 Hours (1964) playing a Nazi opposite James Garner.

It is odd to consider that the estate of H.G. Wells sued the production company claiming that this film was too similar to The Time Machine and four years later Rod Taylor got the lead when that story was made into a film.

Taylor never became the star he should have been in the late 60s and early 70s he started getting b or less movies. It tried his hand at television with no luck. A large number of people feel that his greatest work was a leading role in an Australian production titled The Picture Show Man (1977), about a sideshow that brings moving pictures to the Australian outback.

Shirley Patterson was cast as underground future Earth women Elaine. Patterson, born in Canada was a B-movie actress during the 40s and 50s. This former beauty queen signed a contract with Columbia Pictures around the beginning of World War II. Her career included 40 movies, 15-episodes of a Batman serial, and a little television. Her last two movies were The Land Unknown (1957) and The Terror from Beyond Space (1958).

She died in Florida in 1995 and her ashes were spread in the Atlantic.

Lisa Montell played the role of Deena a civilized surface dweller. IMDB states she is a “Smoulderingly beautiful and a fetching, exotic-eyed vision.” Yeah, I’m okay with that description. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1933 but the family moved to 5th Avenue in New Your prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland.

Montell attending performing arts schools while in New York. The family moved to Lima, Peru in 1953 where Montell was cast in her first film Daughter of the Sun God (1962). The film was so badly shot it took 10 years before it was released in America. While working in other films she was noticed by Hollywood. When her father died Montell and her mother moved to LA. She worked as almost every ethnicity but her own.

World Without End (1956)

World Without End (1956)

In all had around 15 movie roles but quit acting around 1962 to concentrate on her Bahá’í faith. You can look it up, I had to. It is a monotheistic religion that came out of Persia and respects all other religions. Go figure!

Christopher Dark was cast as the fourth member of the old Earth crew Henry ‘Hank’ Jaffe. Dark was an American actor known mostly for his television work.

Booth Colman played the role of Mories the future Earth underground heavy. Ironically he was the male most like the old Earthmen. Colman served in the Japanese Language Division during World War II. He went right to the New York stage after the war and by 1951 he was on his way to Hollywood. His first film was The Big Sky (1952). By the end of his career, he had almost 200 film and television credits and was active in the theater for the entire time.

Everett Glass was cast as Timmek leader of the future underground humans. Glass has over 80 film and television credits from the 1940s through the mid-1960s. One of the most well knows films he appeared in was Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

Stanley Fraser played the role of Elda another underground future Earthman. In addition to World Without End (1956) he had minor roles in The Maze (1953), My Fair Lady (1964), and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). He died in 1983 with 23 acting credits.

Strother Martin had a small uncredited role as Nihka. He can be seen clearly during the capture scene. Also, director Sam Peckinpah was also uncredited as the dialogue director in this movie.


The movie starts out with an atomic explosion as the beginning credits roll. Being of a certain age I assumed this was an open-air test that later causes the problems with the spaceship.

A group of military men are trying to contact rocket ship XRM. They are worried that something has gone wrong. They use this time to introduce the young family of one of the four travelers.

Switching back to the rocket radio man Herb Ellis (Rod Taylor) tells Dr. Galbraithe (Nelson Leigh) that the ship lost contact with Earth when they entered Mars’ magnetic field. The Doc asks John Borden (Hugh Marlowe) to check Mars on the viewer screen. They see a lot of green but can’t make out what it is. Of course, it’s vegetation growing around the canals but that is another story.

The Doc orders Henry Jaffe (Christopher Dark) to plot a course back to Earth. As the ship leaves orbit it accelerates to super speed pinning the four-man crew to their chairs. When they wake up the ship is on the side of snow-capped mountain. Since they were orbiting Mars when the problem happened they figure they are near one of the Martian poles.

But Borden is no slouch he realizes that the gravity is 1 and that the atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and 0.03% carbon dioxide. No not Mars but where? So they open the hatch and head outside. They find out that the control surfaces are damage, you know the parts that make you go up and down. Also that the radiation count is 3 times too high for Earth so it clearly must be some other place. Nothing on the radio.

They load up their cold weather gear, food, and .38 police specials and head down to the valley. As they hike for a while they decide to rest and one of the guys wanders into a nearby cave. He stands there looking a giant spider web wondering what could have made it until a giant spider jumps on him. The other fellows drive it off with the guns and a second spider attacks. Everyone makes it out okay but I was sure that Jaffe, the guy with the kids was going to buy it. No so.

They make it further down the mountain and make a camp for the night. After dark, they are attacked by mutant cavemen that are cycloptic and deformed. They beat the attack back with no loses.

World Without End (1956)

World Without End (1956)

The next morning they realize they are on Earth when they find a cemetery. They look on the stones for dates and realize they have traveled in time from 1957, a year after the movie until at least 2188. They give a good explanation of time dilation near the speed of light something that most everyone knows now, except politicians. The Doc also correctly postulates that there has been a nuclear war.

They see a column of smoke and manly man Borden goes to investigate. He is jumped by the mutated cavemen but with the help of his friends and the 2nd amendment they make it clear with no casualties. They take shelter in a cave which seems odd because there are giant fricking spiders in the caves.

While looking around the cave they find a shiny metallic door. As soon as they find this door, another slides down closing the front of the cave. The interior door opens and with no options, they decide to go in.

They go down a hall and find a room where a voice tells them to leave their weapons and gear behind. When they do they are ushered into a council room. The men that enter the room are wearing shimmering clothes and skull caps but not the kind we have now. Theirs flopped in from of their ears and came all the way down in the back.

Timmek (Everett Glass) says he is the leader of the underground future humans. The old Earthmen explain how they arrived and Timmek explains that they have been living underground since the horrible war and that they know of no other humans. The Council is very concerned about the guns and decides to keep the weapons locked away. Timmek also tells them that the year is AD2508.

Garnet (Nancy Gates) who is Timmek’s daughter enters the room rocking stilettos and a mini and take the four explorers to eat. Garnet then introduces another smartly dress lass, Elaine (Shirley Patterson). Elaine is Elda’s (Stanley Fraser) assistant. Elaine quickly makes an offer to show the crew anything they want. The Doc wants to know why they haven’t retaken the surface and Garnet says her people are tired of war.

The Doc then sees a serving girl Deena (Lisa Montell) in a little I Dream of Genie outfit and asks about her. Garnet says she is from the surface and was rejected by the cavemen for being too normal. Herbert pokes fun at her thinking she can not understand what they are saying. But she can and leaves in a huff.

The four men bed down for the night and pretty quickly accept they have come on a one-way trip. Jaffe and Borden talk and Borden believes that living underground has made the men weak and it will destroy them in time. The next morning the Council denies the Docs request to repair the ship and look for other humans.

When Garnet finds Borden along she is all over him, like well a stripper. On his less exciting tour, Jaffe finds out about declining birth rates in the human colony. Later Garnet and Borden are interrupted by Mories (Booth Colman) and Mories is showing that old green monster and I talking about jealousy not little green men. Now Mories is the bad guy in this movie but oddly he is the one new human that acts like an old human. Anyway Garnet explains that Mories expects to marry her when he becomes the leader of the Council.

Herbert tries to apologize to Deena but she is not having it. When Borden and Galbraithe return they concur that the underground humans have lost their will and desire to explore new boundaries.

Garnet and Borden go on a date and she uses a tunnel to take him outside. Isn’t that where the cavemen monster area. I was sure someone was going to whacked or at least kidnapped. But it was just good old kissy face and declarations of love.

The old Earthmen keep working on Denna and she finally accepts their apologies. She admits she has a thing for Herbert. With the dying population, the old Earthmen come up with a plan. With their weapons and help from the subterranean Earthmen, they could start driving the surface dwellers back and reclaim the surface.

That old pain in the ass Mories has been spying on the old Earthmen. He is jealous about Garnet so he runs to the Council and tells them the old earthmen are planning on getting their guns and enslaving the New Earthmen. The Council buys it hook line and sinker.

While the old Earthmen are being lied about at the Council Deena tells the old Earthmen that there are more like her and they are enslaved by the cavemen. The Doc goes to the Council but is shut down hard because of the tale Mories has spread.

But Mories can’t stop there, the threat to his woman is too much. He sneaks into where the guns are hidden and clunks the councilman on the head accidentally killing him. He takes the guns and places them in the old Earthmen’s quarters but is seen doing this by Deena. I guess the old Earthmen were not at home because they were out taking advantage of the strippers I mean the new Earth women. Deena sees Herbert kissing another woman and see has a cow.

The Council finds the dead guy and goes to the old Earthmen’s quarters and quickly finds the guns hidden under the sheets. They arrest all of the old Earthmen and this is the part where Strother Martin shows up. They drag the old Earthmen to the Council room where they tell them that they will be given their weapons and supplies before they are tossed out with the cavemen. Deena remains silent.

But Deena is not a hater so she goes to Timmek, to tell the truth. As she is waiting to be admitted, Mories comes in and clunks her in the head. The guards chase him and he runs outside to the waiting Cavemen who quickly do him in.

After they are vindicated the old Earthmen get about 20 new Earthmen helps and begin working on weapons. They finally end up with a bazooka. Deena tells them that leadership is based on strength and if they can conquer the headman the rest will be easy.

They take the bazooka outside and fire it towards an ambush location. The cavemen go running in every direction and they capture one that is not a mutant. The captive tells Deena that the leader will take his people back to the cave where they will be killed if the Earthmen attack.

They find the hiding place of the cavemen and Jaffe scouts ahead. He no longer cares about living knowing that his family is dead. Jaffe is speared by a caveman by Herbert beats them back and recuse Jaffe. They have Deena yell a message to the Caveman leader and they agree to single combat between the caveman leader and Borden. They fight with ax and knife but the old Earthmen is too good and kills the caveman leader. The rest of the tribe submits.

The scene jumps to the future where the New Earthmen are no longer living underground. The remaining cavemen are being integrated as shown as a renewed Jaffe is teaching the school-age kids. The movie ends as everyone agrees it is the rebirth of civilization.

World-Famous Short Summary – Four men take a trip and find some dapper new friends.

World Without End (1956)

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