A classic of the genre and one of the quintessential alien invasion films, George Pal’s War of the Worlds is just about perfect in all regards. Scenes of panic, rioting, and empty Los Angeles streets are favored over action for the better. Gene Barry plays Clayton Forrester, a scientist caught in the middle of the invasion, undergoing a dramatic character arc as the cities fall. Brilliantly designed flying warships of the Martians are colorful and terrifying, their death ray completely disintegrating their target.
Paramount released an early DVD of War of the Worlds, which eventually went out of print, causing the price to shoot up amongst collector’s. That transfer, despite the early encode, looked decent. The more recent re-release, done to coincide with Steven Spielberg’s 2005 remake, thankfully added some great extras (two commentaries for instance), but the transfer was unfortunately DNR’ed beyond all recognition. Smearing, static grain structure, and waxy faces were all evident. The soundtrack contains notable hissing and popping, at its worst as Gene Barry reaches for the alien hand near the end of the film.
Hopefully not the same master that was used for the DVD. Another issue that sprung up are the wires being visible, suspending the ships above the miniature sets. This is not a fault of the special effects, but of the transfer to Eastman color (from Technicolor). If any Technicolor prints still exist, that would of course be preferred, and yes, untouched. A nicely cleaned up mono mix would also be wonderful, as opposed to the false 2.0 surround provided by the DVD.