Them! is a 1954 American black and white science fiction film about man's encounter with a nest of gigantic irradiated ants. It is based on an original story treatment by George Worthing Yates. It was developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes for Warner Bros. Pictures Inc., and was produced by David Weisbart and directed by Gordon Douglas. It starred James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arness. One of the first of the "nuclear monster" movies, and the first "big bug" film, Them! was nominated for an Oscar for Special Effects and won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing. The film starts off as a simple suspense story, with police investigating mysterious disappearances and unexplainable deaths. The giant ants are not even seen until almost a third of the way into the film. The film begins with New Mexico State Police Sergeant Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) and his patrol partner Ed Blackburn (Chris Drake) discovering a little girl wandering the desert near Alamogordo, mute and in a state of shock. They retrace her steps to a trailer owned by an FBI agent named Ellinson, who was on vacation in the area with his wife and two children.
Who doesn’t love a giant ant movie? Who? Them! is at once high camp and a decent monster flick, thanks to a good-sized budget for sets and the dulcet voice of Edmund Gwenn, as a scientist who’s on hand to explain to the military — with educational films, even — why ants in the New Mexico desert have suddenly grown to a thousand times their normal size. (Hint: A-bombs!) Eventually we know they’ll have to go after the queen, just another big puppet that looks hysterically bad (and is really the only bad special effect in the film). But along the way we are treated to Gwenn, screaming at a cop with a machine gun to ‘Get the antennas! He’s helpless without them!’ Priceless.