Visit to a Small Planet
Cast & Crew
On the planet X47, student Kreton confounds his teacher, Delton, by cutting class to visit his favorite planet, Earth. Kreton, whose ineptitude has recently destroyed all life on Mars, ignores Delton's protestation that Earth is puny and pointless and programs his spaceship to visit Manassas, Virginia, during the Civil War. He has miscalculated by ninety-nine years, however, and lands in 1960 at the home of television personality Roger Putnam Spelding, who is at that moment polishing his broadcast on the impossibility of alien life. The family, consisting of Roger, wife Rheba and daughter Ellen, are preparing for a costume party at the home of neighbor Bob Mayberry, and when Kreton appears dressed as a Confederate cavalryman, Rheba assumes he is a party guest. She invites him to accompany them, and when Roger, costumed as Jefferson Davis, comes downstairs to watch his pre-taped broadcast, Kreton mistakes him for the real Jefferson Davis and calls the show "full of hooey." Upon realizing Roger is the man on the television, Kreton demonstrates his advanced abilities to prove to Roger that he is an alien. Just then, Delton arrives to inform Kreton that he will be allowed to stay on Earth as long as he does not interfere or reveal that he is an alien. The aliens notice that Roger is at that moment calling his boss, George Abercrombie, to inform him that he has a scoop on extraterrestrial life, and use mind control to restrain him from revealing their presence. Upon witnessing Kreton's ability to wither a plant by looking at it, Roger agrees to stay quiet, but soon after, Kreton blithely admits he is extraterrestrial to Rheba and Ellen, who are thrilled by his powers. When Bob, an amateur UFO fanatic, enters to inform them he has spotted a spacecraft, Kreton keeps him from snapping his photo by destroying his camera. Ellen's boyfriend Conrad then appears, costumed as a spaceman with antennae, and concerned for his family's safety, Roger orders them all to remain in the house. Bob flees, but as soon as he attempts to call the police, Kreton renders him incapable of speaking. After spending the evening with family dog Rags, to whom he can speak, Kreton informs Ellen that he can read minds. To prove it, he transmits Ellen's own thoughts about Conrad and the unchaperoned weekend they have planned. Kreton, whose people do not have sex and never die, horrifies Ellen by asking to watch the "courtship rituals" of mating earthlings. Kreton then allows Ellen to listen to Conrad's thoughts, which are mostly about Ellen in a bathing suit. Roger calls the alien in for a drink, and Delton, watching on his monitor, allows Kreton to experience alcohol. After the young alien climbs up the wall and onto the ceiling, however, Roger hides the bourbon. Ellen and Conrad take Kreton to town, and while his exploits in levitating policemen amuse Ellen, Conrad grows jealous. Back at home, after reuniting the sparring Rags with family cat Clementine, Kreton overhears Abercrombie inside firing Roger. By reading Abercrombie's mind and then mentioning his mistress and corrupt business deals, Kreton wins Roger his job back, prompting Roger to pray for Kreton to marry Ellen. Ellen, who has rejected Conrad's marriage proposals because she considers him too ineffectual, evokes the young man's wrath by announcing that she is taking Kreton to their hangout, a beatnik bar. There, the alien delights the crowd with his spacesuit and ability to play a set of bongos from across the room. After Delton levitates Kreton, however, the beatniks flee in terror. Ellen takes Kreton to Lover's Lane, but when he tries to kiss her, his force field, which protects him from other life forms, prevents them from touching. Delton, hoping to teach the delinquent a lesson, breaks the field, and with one kiss Kreton is in love. Ellen, however, has merely been experimenting, and when she returns home, she acquiesces to Conrad's jealous demand that they elope. Kreton hears their plan and plots to foil them, but is himself thwarted by Delton. The next morning, as Kreton asks Roger for Ellen's hand, she and Conrad announce that they are married. Kreton feigns indifference, but Delton then broadcasts his lascivious thoughts about Ellen, prompting Conrad to fight him. The alien assumes his force field will protect him, but Delton again allows it to fall, and for the first time, Kreton feels physical pain. Finally convinced that he wants nothing to do with humans, Kreton races into the barn, while Bob learns that Kreton is vulnerable and alerts the police. When they shoot tear gas into the barn, Kreton manages to blow the gas out and escape out the back. Kreton finds Delton waiting at his spaceship, ready to take him home. On Earth, the military arrive, but to Bob's dismay, the Speldings swear that there is no such thing as aliens.
John A. Anderson
John P. Fulton
Joseph H. Hazen
D. Michael Moore
Best Art Direction
Gore Vidal based his play Visit to a Small Planet on his teleplay of the same name, which was broadcast on the Philco Television Playhouse on May 8, 1955. In February 1959, producer Hal Wallis bought the rights to the stage play, which had had its Broadway debut on February 7, 1957. At the time of the purchase, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Wallis was considering either Lewis, Alec Guinness or Danny Kaye for the lead role. Although Vidal's play included what the Variety reviewer called "thoughtful commentary on the stupidity of war," the film version contains no such theme.
Although Hollywood Reporter noted in April 1959 that Donna Douglas tested for a role, she was not in the film. June and July 1959 Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: Charles "Chuck" Ward, John Diggs, Anne Cornwall, Mike Ross, Carl Lucas, Hugh Langtry, John Drake, William Rands, James Knight, Jack Jones, Richard Johnson, Jose Dominguez, Paul Smith, Eddie Robinson, Jr., Max Power, John Eloff, Louise Glenn, Sondra Matesky, John Dennis, Dominic Fidelibus, Titus Moede, Beach Dickerson, Bob Harvey, David Lanfield, Joseph Turkel, Mark Russell, Gene Collins, Paul Wexler, and Frank Socolow. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Don Bagley, Jack Costanzo and Dany Saval to the cast.
Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler, Sam Comer and Arthur Krams received a 1961 Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White. Visit to a Small Planet marked the last film for Jerry Lewis under his long-term contract with producer Hal Wallis, who helped jumpstart Lewis' career. The two made one more film together, 1965's Boeing Boeing (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70). For more information on their relationship, see the record for the film My Friend Irma (AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
Released in United States Spring April 1960
Released in United States Spring April 1960