James Arness

THEM! (1954) - Gordon Douglas

THEM! (50)

The quintessential drive-in giant monster movie.

Directed by

Gordon Douglas

Produced by

David Weisbart

Screenplay by

Ted Sherdeman
Russell Hughes

Story by

George Worthing Yates


James Whitmore
Edmund Gwenn
Joan Weldon
James Arness


Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

Distributed by

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

Release date

June 19, 1954

Box office $2.2 million

THEM! is a science-fiction, giant-monster movie from 1954, deep in the heart of the cosmic age of the silver screen. Directed by Gordon Douglas, THEM treaded new ground as the first giant bug feature. This is the quintessential drive-in movie. It's definitely something that I had heard referenced in cartoons long before actually watching the movie. I suggest sitting down to watch this with a bowl of popcorn. 

Humongous irradiated ants have been attacking people in New Mexico. It had started as a relatively small outbreak, until two queens escaped and created colonies in Los Angeles. FBI Agent Robert Graham and New Mexico State Police Officer, Ben Peterson, along with various local authorities, seek to find these ferocious formicidae before it’s too late. 

Most of the picture focuses on FBI Agent Robert Graham (James Arness) and Sgt. Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) doing detective work. It’s pretty slow. They investigate crime scenes and hypothesize wildly while these giant creatures do their worst to America. Most scenes take place on a stationary set. They have establishing shots, but it's mostly sets. 

This is an awesome monster movie. I haven’t reviewed many of them yet, but I really liked Them! I think if I were a young adult back then, I would have been right there in the drive-in. The giant ants aren’t too scary. But these creatures mutating from nuclear testing would be dreadful in the early fifties. I woulda been shakin’ in my electrical boots. James Whitmore is the best actor in the film. But the acting isn’t the biggest attraction. The ants were fantastic. They didn't move much, and they had an annoying noise, but they were effective for this movie. Today they would be comical but back then… woah. This would have been like IT or something.