Classic SF Films of the 1950s

Discussion in 'Film & TV' started by Butch Meathook, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. Butch Meathook

    Butch Meathook Full Member

    A few days ago I watched the film "Destination Moon", which was released in 1950. I wanted to see if anyone else has seen it and what are your thoughts about it.
    My opinion is mixed - overall, the plot was very thin and was driven by the imperialist spirit of the government, and the chivalrous urges of one-dimensional characters - brave and a bit weary astronauts, who risk their lives for science and their country. I liked that the film tries to be as close to science as possible, and to present the dangers of space and the new challenges that astronauts will have to face. Keep in mind that this movie was made more than 10 years before the first actual manned flight in outer space. Another thing I enjoyed was the production design and had a few laughs at what people thought as "futuristic"back then. The set designs were mostly adequate, with some very pretty imagined moonscapes and views of the Earth from space. The Technicolor production is fitting and quite refreshing, and pleasing to the eye.
    Robert Heinlein served as a consultant and participated actively in the writing of the script. Wikipedia says:"Certain story elements from his 1947 juvenile novel Rocket Ship Galileo were adapted for use in the film's final screenplay. Heinlein also published a tie-in novella, Destination Moon, based on the screenplay."
    Heinlein's involvement is also indicated by the certain overly patriotic and imperialist tone of the conquest of the Moon. The government is convinced that it must act because if the moon falls in the wrong hands, enemy military bases will be built there and rockets will start flying towards the US.
    I think it's a movie worth watching - it is fairly well paced, it's pleasant to look at and may deliver a few laughs. It is also quite interesting to observe the theme of post-WWII paranoia. This thread brings us to another fine sci-fi movie from the 50's - The Incredible Shrinking Man. Anyone seen it? It's among my personal favorite sci-fi movies of all time.
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've been slowly compiling a list of films to watch over the last many weeks. I've had it in my head to catch up on the old SF and also noir films that I neglected to watch in previous years. The 1950's is definitely the decade I want to start with since this is when SF started getting serious treatment on film compared to the monster fare of the 1940's.

    Destination Moon is a film I haven't seen yet, but I'm going to watch it now and I'll come back with my comments. Haven't seen The Incredible Shrinking Man, either. Here are some of some of the films I was planning on watching (I've only seen the ones in boldface previously):

    (1950) Destination Moon -- Irving Pichel
    (1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still -- Robert Wise
    (1951) The Thing from Another World -- Christian Nyby
    (1953) Project Moonbase -- Richard Talmadge
    (1953) The War of the Worlds -- Byron Hoskins
    (1953) Spaceways -- Terence Fisher
    (1954) Them! -- Gordon Douglas
    (1954) Gojira -- Honda Ishiro
    (1954) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea -- Richard Fleischer
    (1954) Riders to the Stars -- Richard Carlson
    (1956) Godzilla -- Terry O. Morse & Honda Ishiro
    (1956) Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- Don Siegel
    (1956) Forbidden Planet -- Fred M. Wilcox
    (1957) The Incredible Shrinking Man -- Jack Arnold
    (1957) The Monster That Challenged the World -- Arnold Laven
    (1958) It! The Terror from Beyond Space -- Edward Cahn
    (1959) Journey to the Centre of the Earth -- Henry Levin

    I chose these because I've always been under the impression that they are regarded as classics (even though a couple of them seem to be pulpy B-movies). Do you know of any others that are considered worthwhile from the decade?
  3. Butch Meathook

    Butch Meathook Full Member

    A few days ago I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - it was quite enjoyable and well-made, and was quite thrilling towards the end. I think it captures quite well the specific kind of mind-control theme, which was prominent and well exploited in 50's cinema (i.e. The Manchurian Candidate).
    I haven't seen the 70's remake of the Body Snatchers, which I've heard is quite good as well, so I cannot comment on the relationship.
  4. Gideon Marcus

    Gideon Marcus Full Member

    I covered both of these "when they came out" (well, Gojira was actually after the fact) on the Journey.

    I cannot recommend strongly enough The World, The Flesh, and the Devil. Ground-breaking for 1959 and relatively unknown.

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