John W. Campbell, Jr.'s 1938 seminal science-fiction/horror novella, Who Goes There?, has been adapted twice for the big screen, once, loosely, in 1951 as The Thing from Another World and the second time more faithfully in 1982 as The Thing (a.k.a. John Carpenter's The Thing). While the second adaptation relied heavily on state-of-the-art practical effects, heavy on the body horror, blood, and gore (along with claustrophobia and paranoia, of course), producer and ghost-director Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, Red River, The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday) structured The Thing from Another World as a moody, atmospheric horror film, relying primarily on suspense, tension, and audience imagination to create a memorable theatrical experience.
Set at a research station in the Arctic (as opposed to Antarctica in Campbell's novella and Carpenter's 1982 adaptation), The Thing from Another World centers on the first encounter between humanity and an alien from outer space. We never learn where the alien comes from, but we do learn that he (or rather it) has arrived in a flying saucer (the Roswell Incident was only four years earlier) that crashed into a remote area of the Arctic. The U.S. military dispatches a U.S. Air Force re-supply crew to investigate the downed saucer. The re-supply crew includes Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), Lt. Eddie Dykes (James R. Young), Lt. Ken 'Mac' MacPherson (Robert Nichols), Corporal Barnes (William Self), and Crew Chief Bob (Dewey Martin). A reporter, Ned 'Scotty' Scott (Douglas Spencer), gets permission to tag along.