When Worlds Collide (1951)

USA, 1951
35mm film, Technicolor, 1.37:1
mono, English

An American science fiction film directed by Rudolph Maté. Production started on 14 December 1950.

Plot Summary

The Earth is doomed when a new star, Bellus, is found to be ona collision course with the pkanet. A group of scientists and businessmen build a huge rockets that will carry a few lucky survivors to Zyra, a planet orbiting Bellus that may be habitable.


* – uncredited

Directed by: Rudolph Maté
© MCMLI [1951] by Paramount Pictures Corporation
A Paramount picture
Executive Producer: Cecil B. DeMille *
Produced by: George Pal
Screenplay by: Sydney Boehm
Based on a Novel by: Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie
Directors of Photography: John F. Seitz, W. Howard Greene
Edited by: Arthur Schmidt
Music Score by: Leith Stevens
Sound Recording by: Gene Merritt and Walter Oberst
Costumes: Edith Head
Makeup Supervision: Wally Westmore
Special Effects: Gordon Jennings, Harry Barndollar
Process Photography: Farciot Edouart
Art Direction: Hal Pereira, Albert Nozaki
Technical Advisor: Chesley Bonestell

Richard Derr (David Randall)
Barbara Rush (Joyce Hendron)
Peter Hansen (Dr Tony Drake)
John Hoyt (Sydney Stanton)
Larry Keating (Dr Cole Hendron)
Judith Ames [real name: Rachel Ames] (Julie Cummings)
Stephen Chase (Dr George Frye)
Frank Cady (Harold Ferris)
Hayden Rorke (Dr Emery Bronson)
Sandro Giglio (Dr Ottinger)

Alternative Titles

Als de wereld vergaat – Netherlands
Botsing der planeten – Belgium (Flemish)
Când lumile se ciocnesc – Romania
Cuando los mundos chocan – Argentina, Mexico, Spain
O Fim do Mundo – Brazil
Flykten från jorden – Sweden
Der Jüngste Tag – Austria, West Germany
Kad se svetovi sudare – Serbia
Kiyamet kopunca – Turkey
Le choc des mondes – Belgium (French), France
Maailman sortuessa – Finland
Quando Dois Mundos Colidem – Brazil (television)
Quando i mondi si scontrano – Italy
Quando os Mundos Chocam – Portugal
Oi Teleftaies stigmes tis Gis – Greece
Verdens undergang – Denmark
Világok összeütközése – Hungary

Extracts included in
Boom! Hollywood’s Greatest Disaster Movies (2000)
Damnation Alley (1977)
The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981)
The Martians and Us (2006)
Monsterama Sci-Fi Late Night Creature Feature Show Vol. 1 (1996)
The Sci-Fi Boys (2006)
The War of the Worlds (1952)



Variety 29 August 1951 p.20
When Worlds Collide is a highly interesting film version of the Edwin Balmer-Philip Wylie novel. Through his Destination Moon released last year, producer George Pal proved that the theatre-going public is avid for science-fiction pix. “Worlds” is a sock followup, which will reap sturdy grosses. Top honors for this inter-planetary fantasy rest with the cameramen and special effects technicians rather than with performances of the non-name cast. Process photography and optical illusions are done with an imaginativeness that vicariously sweeps the spectator into space. […] Departure, actual flight and landing upon Zyra represent the highpoint of the picture. It’s a triumph for the technicians whose artistry, along with the hues of Technicolor, make the sequence a fine piece of realism. Somewhat of a puzzle, however, is the fact that although the ship lands upon an ice-covered valley, its occupants step out into a verdant paradise when opening the craft’s door. […] Producer Pal, who evidently profited by his experience with Moon, wrapped Worlds with lush physical values. Cameramen John F. Seitz and W. Howard Greene rate kudos, as do Gordon Jennings and Harry Barndollar (special effects) and Farciot Edouart (process photography). While Rudy Mate’s direction is inclined to falter in the early stages of the film, his treatment of the action scenes at the finale is expertly done. – from a review by Gilb

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.18 no.212 (September 1951) p.333
A successor to Destination Moon, George Pal’s previous contribution to the present Hollywood pseudo-scientific interplanetary cycle. The film, particularly in the first hour, is inclined to be heavy handed and rather overburdened with its scientific detail. When the climax of the colliding planets comes, however, we see the expected thrilling spectacle of volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, fires and an impressive-looking rocket ship dashing through space. Although indifferently acted, the film is quite an entertaining example of its kind. – from an uncredited review

Daily Mirror 14 September 1951
[T]he fantastic climax of the film is the shattering spectacle of our world going up in flames. VERDICT: Hokum – but served hot. – from a review by Reg Whitley



  • Daily Variety 8 December 1950 p.11 (USA) – note (Daily Variety Production Chart: In the Near Future)
  • Films in Review vol.2 no.8 (October 1951) p.51 (USA) – credits, review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.18 no.212 (September 1951) p.333 (UK) – credits, synopsis, review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.184 no.9 (1 September 1951) p.998 (USA) – credits, review
  • Today’s Cinema vol.77 no.6317 (17 August 1951) p.8 (UK) – credits, review
  • Variety 29 August 1951 pp.6, 20 (USA) – credits, review (by Gilb)


  • Daily Mirror 14 September 1951 – review (by Reg Whitley)


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy p.133 – illustrated credits, review
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.536 – credits