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The working title of this film was The Strangers from Outer Space. The picture begins with voice-over narration in which Richard Carlson as "John Putnam" declares that everyone in the small town of Sand Rock was sure of what the future held until one fateful night. Although he usually received lower billing, special photography cinematographer David S. Horsley is listed in the opening credits before the director of photography.
It Came from Outer Space was Universal's first 3-D film. The June 1953 Cue review notes that the film also marked the first time that 3-D technology was combined with a "giant" screen and stereoscopic sound (for more information on these technologies, see the entry below for the 1953 Twentieth Century-Fox film The Robe. According to a May 1953 Hollywood Reporter article, the widescreen process afforded viewers a 90-degree radius and included aluminum-paint coating which reflected four times more light than a typical screen.
In order to protect the surprise element of both the story and the alien's appearance, director Jack Arnold tightly controlled the production. Variety reported in February 1953 that all actors were required to sign a secrecy pledge, while a May 1953 Los Angeles Daily News item stated that the alien was created, shot and destroyed in one day to ensure that no one outside the studio could view it. According to a February 1953 "Rambling Reporter" item in Hollywood Reporter, some scenes were shot on location in Apple Valley, CA, and modern sources cite the Mojave Desert as an additional location.