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The Thing


On this date in 1951, the Minot Daily News announced that a man by the name of Edward Donahue had just been in Minot for a very special reason. He was from RKO-Radio Productions, and he was looking for a very special place to use as a backdrop for a movie. Donahue was pulled to North Dakota because the movie was set in the arctic.

Production on the film had already begun in Cut Bank, Montana, but there was no snow there, so Donahue had to look other places for the polar scenes.

North Dakota can definitely feel like an arctic setting, as we've experienced this winter. In 1951, a storm with high winds and blowing snow had just hit Minot,. After a few days, the highway department pronounced that the roads around Minot were safe, and the winds dropped and the temperatures rose. Still, it was a blustery winter scene.

Donahue had also looked at Fargo, but he said the Red River Valley area "wouldn't fool anybody" because it looked "just exactly as it is-well-kept, wonderful farmland." However, Donahue wasn't sold on Minot, either. But after seeing it from an aerial view, he reserved rooms for 70 people at the Clarence Parker Hotel.

Donahue did not choose Minot, but he did find a spot close by in Ward County; filming was scheduled to begin on February 10 in the Nelson-Carlson area pothole near Douglas, although the cast and crew were housed and cared for in Minot. Donahue even engaged local doctors to care for the movie stars, whom, it was assumed, were pampered and would suffer from the cold atmosphere here, after living in California.

Oh, and the arctic movie that he sought the perfect background for? Well, it was loosely based on a 1938 novella entitled "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. The story followed an Air Force crew and scientists at a research outpost in the Arctic, where they discover and ultimately fight a plant-based alien. It was remade in 1982, but the original was released in 1951: "The Thing from Another World." It was the first movie shot in North Dakota by a major film company.

As to whether or not North Dakota was a believable place to discover a vengeful, frozen alien plant-being-well, you'll just have to watch the skies for that one.

By Sarah Walker


Minot Daily News, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 1951

Ward County Independent, February 8, 1951, p.1

"The Thing From Another World," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_from_Another_World