The Strange World of Planet X (1957 71mins.) [Talking Pictures TV 3.15am wednesday]
(Sky 343, Freeview 81, Freesat 306 & Youview 81)
A team of scientists stumbles upon a method of creating powerful magnetic fields, unaware that a side-effect is the mutation of insects into giant killers. Sci-fi drama, starring Forrest Tucker and Gaby Andre.
Britain didn't go in for the Fear Of The Other paranoid sci-fi thriller during the Cold War to the extent that the United States did, which makes this an interesting film within a very small sub-genre.
There's a bunch of slightly mysterious scientists up at the big hall who are working on A Device that's supposed to Do Something Important For Some Reason but is, in fact, doing something else as well. Something that is Clearly Not A Good Thing.
There's a very pretty English village with a cosy pub, its own poacher and a school, with a newly arrived female school teacher (for added love interest).
There's Whitehall mandarins and sceptical defence staff; a handsome and dashing MI6 security specialist and Forrest Tucker as a square jawed North American (allegedly Canadian) on the staff to add a bit of Transatlantic glamour to proceedings.
And who is the mysterious "Mister Smith" who's lurking in the woods?
Some of the social attitudes on display are positively antediluvian (especially when one of the male scientists rants about his dislike of working with women - a position that's hurriedly reversed when the new recruit turns out to be a fizzy young French woman (Gaby Andre - giving plenty of verve).
In addition, some of the special effects are a lot less than special!
However, despite its obvious problems (and very low budget) the cast are full of energy and Gilbert Gunn directs the action very briskly and efficiently, making this an enjoyable hour and a quarter well spent.