Visit to a Small Planet

Visit to a Small Planet is a 1960 American black-and-white science fiction comedy film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Jerry Lewis, Joan Blackman, Earl Holliman, and Fred Clark. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, it was produced by Hal B. Wallis.

Visit to a Small Planet
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNorman Taurog
Produced byHal B. Wallis
Written byEdmund Beloin
Henry Garson
Gore Vidal (play)
StarringJerry Lewis
Joan Blackman
Earl Holliman
Fred Clark
Music byLeigh Harline
CinematographyLoyal Griggs
Edited byFrank Bracht
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
February 4, 1960
Running time
85 minutes
Box office$3,200,000 (US/Canada rentals)[1]
907,280 admissions (France)[2]

Visit to a Small Planet debuted as an original television production by Gore Vidal, then was reworked by Vidal as a Broadway play starring Cyril Ritchard and Eddie Mayehoff.

The film was released on February 4, 1960. It was re-released in 1966 on a double bill with another Jerry Lewis film, The Bellboy.


Kreton (Jerry Lewis) is an alien from the planet X-47 who is fascinated by human beings. Against the wishes of his teacher, he repeatedly visits Earth. During his latest visit, his teacher reluctantly agrees to allow him to stay and study the humans. Kreton becomes friends with a suburban family and stays with them after they agree to keep his alien status a secret. Along the way, he falls in love with their daughter (Joan Blackman). However, there is a force field around him that prevents any physical contact. His race has abolished any form of affection.

After repeatedly breaking his teacher's rule against getting involved in humans' lives, all Kreton's powers are stripped away. This is so he can discover for himself that being human comes with other, less desired, emotions like pain, sadness, and jealousy. Once his cover is blown on Earth and he is reported to the police, Kreton decides that those emotions are not worth the trouble, so he returns to his own planet.



Visit to a Small Planet was filmed from April 28 through July 3, 1959.

Awards and nominations

Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler, Samuel M. Comer, and Arthur Krams were nominated for the 1960 Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Black and White), but lost to Alexandre Trauner and Edward G. Boyle for The Apartment.[3]

Original play

Gore Vidal wrote Visit as a television play in which form it debuted on May 8, 1955, on Goodyear Television Playhouse. Later, he reworked it for the stage. Starring Cyril Ritchard, who also directed, and Eddie Mayehoff, the play had tryouts at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut January 16–19, 1957. On Broadway, it debuted on February 7, 1957, and ran for 388 performances. Ritchard received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Kreton. Mayehoff also received a nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor.

Vidal intended the play as a satire on the post-World War II fear of communism in the United States, McCarthyism, Cold War military paranoia and the rising importance of television in American life. A major critical success, it was subtitled A Comedy Akin to Vaudeville.

The play tells the story of Kreton, an alien from an unnamed planet who lands on Earth intending to view the American Civil War. He miscalculates and lands instead 100 years later. Having missed the opportunity to see conflict first hand, but delighted with all the new playthings the 20th century has invented for war-making, he decides to create a war for himself.

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 22, 2017.[4]

See also



  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009 (First Edition 1982). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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