Based on the book by Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell to Earth debuted on the big screen in 1976, the first starring role for performer David Bowie.
Bowie plays Thomas Newton, an alien from a distant planet, who has come to Earth to get water for his drought-ridden planet.
He starts to develop businesses to gain water and becomes local, gaining a girlfriend Mary Lou (Candy Clark) and building a home in New Mexico.
Dr. Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn) starts to work for Newton’s company, and suspects his boss is odd and decides to investigate and realizes his boss is an alien and reports him to the US government.
Newton, who has become addicted to television and alcohol, tries to escape but becomes captured by the government and becomes a prisoner.
A dark science fiction tale, the film was directed by Nicolas Roeg, and was primarily filmed in New Mexico, to capitalize on its unique desert landscape. Many issues plagued the production, including the Hell’s Angels camping near locations and the production delayed by weather and desert conditions.
Released in March 1976, the film was not marketed well in the US and a had a limited release. The British production company sued distributor Paramount Pictures and won, but the film was still not shown on many big screens. The film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival, with Bowie winning a Saturn Award for Best Actor.
But thanks to the unique creation of Roeg and Bowie, the film has become a cult classic of science fiction, for its dark story line, its cinematography and being the first starring role in a movie by David Bowie.