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I believe the movie might have been black and white. So might have been from the 50s. It was in English and pretty sure it was made in USA.

Some alien entity/force/device/figure simultaneously visits 6-7 people scattered around the world, and gives them a small device. Similar to a ladies make up compact. Opening the lid reveals some buttons(?) and tells them how to use it. The people were geographically equally distant from each other. (i.e. 1 in Africa, South America, Australia, Europe, Russia, China, USA, and Hawaii.) And I believe all the Governments were also informed. (Or somehow very quickly found out.)

The devices, when used, will wipe out all human?/animal? life within a 1000-2000(?) mile radius. So using all 7 will wipe out virtually all life on Earth. (I 'think' it would only effect human life)

The person in either Africa or China was a woman(?) who died of illness or suicide, not long after receiving the device, (Minutes? Hours?) and her device deactivated or destroyed its internals when she died.

The governments quickly rounded up the holders of the devices, and had been told, or found out, that ONLY the receivers of the devices could use them.

I recall that either the Australians, or the USA using its 2nd device, (the one from Hawaii) took it out to the middle of the Pacific far from anywhere and had the receiver activate the device, to test its effects, watching the test from remote cameras with condemned prisoners?/animals? on boats at increasing ranges to check the range of effect, which turned out to be as reported. I don't remember if the receiver's were immune from the device, or if they had been given to people with known terminal illness who would not care if they died early painlessly.

I don't remember the conclusion of the movie. OR it may have ended with a psychological cliff hanger, with everyone waiting around wondering if someone was going to start using them., or if the governments would get together and solve their differences.

(I seem to recall quite a few movies at that time, especially sci-fi types, ending that way. i.e. one ended showing 2 stacks of newspapers at the printing press ready for distribution, one headline reading more or less, It Worked! World Saved!, and the other, It Failed! World Doomed! with the publishers waiting to hear which they should distribute.)

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Sounds like The 27th Day (1957).

From Wikipedia:

The 27th Day is a 1957 American black-and-white science fiction film, distributed by Columbia Pictures. It was produced by Helen Ainsworth, directed by William Asher, and stars Gene Barry, Valerie French, George Voskovec, and Arnold Moss. The screenplay by John Mantley is based on his 1956 original science fiction novel of the same name.

Englishwoman Evelyn Wingate, American reporter Jonathan Clark, Chinese peasant Su Tan, German physicist Klaus Bechner, and Soviet soldier Ivan Godofsky are randomly transported to an alien spacecraft in Earth orbit. There, they are met by a humanoid referring to himself only as "The Alien", who explains that he is the representative of a world orbiting a sun about to go nova. Needing a new world to inhabit within the next 35 days, yet prohibited by their moral code from killing intelligent life, The Alien provides each of the five with sets of three capsules in a clear, round, hand-held case. Each set is capable of destroying all human life within a 3,000-mile diameter; their expectation is that humanity will use all the capsules, obliterating itself, leaving the Earth for the aliens to populate. The capsules' containers can only be opened by the thought waves of the person to whom they were given. Once out in the open, they can be used by anyone, but only during the next 27 days, after which the capsules become inert. The Alien states that if humanity does not destroy itself, the Alien's cannot invade and will perish. He also explains that if one or more of the five die, their capsules will self-destruct and become harmless.

Returned to Earth, Eve throws her case into the English Channel and books a flight to Los Angeles. Su Tan chooses to commit suicide, and her capsules self-destruct.

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  • I only posted the trailer in the answer, because it gets straight to the point of what the plot is all about, but the full movie is also up on YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=7TifV-Q9-n4 Jun 26 at 19:18
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    Without having to watch the film, what do the aliens think is humanity’s motivation for willingly destroying itself?
    – Darren
    Jun 27 at 7:31
  • Random drive-by, but in my opinion this is one of those rare cases where the film is a lot better than the book.
    – moopet
    Jun 27 at 8:04
  • @Darren To be fair to the aliens, if they had been watching recent human history (around 1957), we has only just finished doing a pretty thorough job of destroying each other.
    – DBS
    Jun 27 at 10:33
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    @DBS aye. I’ve watched the trailer now and it seems like they’re expecting it to happen through some kind of nuclear MAD type scenario.
    – Darren
    Jun 27 at 10:33

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