The 1962 Movie
|Directed by Steve Sekely and Freddie Francis||Produced by George Pitcher|
|Screenplay by Bernard Gordon||Released in July 1962|
|Bill Masen||Howard Keel||Christine Durrant||Nicole Maurey|
|Karen Goodwin||Janette Scott||Tom Goodwin||Kieron Moore|
|Mr Coker||Mervyn John||Miss Coker||Alison Leggatt|
|Note: apart from Bill Masen, the names of the characters in this film bear little relation to those of the same name in the book|
Until the BBC adaptation came along in 1981, there had only been one screen version of The Day of the Triffids and, unfortunately, it had not been a very accurate adaptation. Many changes were made, for example:
- Bill Masen changes from a British triffidologist to an American seaman.
- The journey to the Sussex Downs becomes a journey to Gibraltar.
- The triffids appear to be normal plants mutated by the light of the comet.
- Josella is absent altogether and Coker becomes an English tourist in France
- Miss Durrant becomes a Frenchwoman (so that they could cast Nicole Maurey in the film).
- A completely new and irrelevant story set on a lighthouse is introduced to pad out the film (which was too short).
The triffids resemble and act more like aliens and, at times, the film just seems to be a science fiction/horror story like many produced in the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, if it was not for the characters' names, you would barely imagine it to be the same story.
It is not necessarily a bad film but, as an adaptation of The Day of the Triffids, it is rather poor. Enjoy it as an 'alien invasion film' if you like but, if you want to see an adaptation of the book, search out the BBC television series.
The film begins with the storm of meteorites (not a comet). Inside a public greenhouse where small triffids are found, the plants respond to the flashes and begin to grow.
Bill Masen, an American seaman, is in an English hospital, annoyed at missing the display because his eyes are bandaged after an eye operation.
We switch to an abandoned lighthouse where a married couple of biologists, Tom and Karen Goodwin, are arguing.
Back at the greenhouse, the triffids begin to walk and attack a watchman.
In the morning, Bill wakes up to find that the doctor and nurses are late. He takes the bandages off to find the hospital abandoned apart from his doctor who has been blinded. He takes him to his office where the doctor explains that the meteorites have blinded anyone who saw them. Then the doctor throws himself from the window, committing suicide.
On the lighthouse, the transport boat has not turned up. On the radio, the Goodwins hear about the mass blindness and the triffids which are attacking people.
Bill leaves the hospital where the streets are full of blind and stumbling people. He goes to the railway station where an incoming train fails to stop and crashes. A sighted child, Susan, climbs off the train and is grabbed by a man. Bill rescues her and they continue on together. After seeing a dog get killed by a triffid, they take an abandoned car and drive off towards his ship. In the fog, their car gets stuck in the mud and they are attacked by a triffid before finally reaching his ship.
Listening to the ship's radio, they hear of a liner at sea where all the crew and passengers have been struck blind, and an aircraft in the same condition which crashes. Bill and Susan take a small boat across the Channel, heading for France after hearing about an emergency meeting on the radio.
Meanwhile, a triffid has appeared on the Goodwins' island and attacks them but Tom finally manages to kill it. They hear on the radio that the Paris meeting has been cancelled.
Bill and Susan reach Paris and find it empty. They drive on and come across a sighted woman who takes them to where she is living. She is Christine Durrant who, along with Mr Coker and his sister, are looking after blind people in a chateau. Bill manages to get a generator going.
At the lighthouse, Tom is dissecting the triffid. While the couple take a break, the triffid comes back to life and leaves. They board up the entrance.
Bill is preparing to leave for Spain to search for help. He spots a triffid nearby and he and Coker follow it, finding masses of them. They try and persuade Miss Durrant to leave and, while doing so, a plane flies overhead and crashes. The pilot mentions the naval base at Toulon before dying. They are then attacked by triffids and Coker is killed.
When Bill gets back to the chateau, he finds a party going on with some drunken, escaped convicts and the blind women. Bill rescues Susan and Miss Durrant, and they flee as the triffids attack the building. They reach Toulon but find it destroyed.
The Goodwins continue investigating the triffids but cannot find any way to destroy them.
Bill, Miss Durrant and Susan reach Spain. They find an ice cream van and use it to head off to the naval base at Cadiz. At a blocked road, the go to the nearby building and find two blind people, one expecting a child. Listening to a radio, they hear that a submarine, which had been underwater during the meteorites, will pick up survivors the next day at Alicante. Because the woman is in labour, they stay at the building and Bill contructs an electric fence around it. It is fortunate that he does for they are soon surrounded by triffids. The electric fence only stops them temporarily; Bill tries burning them with an improvised flame thrower. Even that doesn't stop them and, realising that it is sound that is attracting them, Bill drives the ice cream van away, using its chimes to lead them. While this is happening, the others escape from the building and they make their way to Alicante, meeting Bill there.
Meanwhile, on the lighthouse, the triffids break in and, during the fight, the Goodwins find that sea water destroys the triffids. The world is saved!