All films are from the List of science fiction films of the 1950s from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I have relied heavily on their description of films.
I have tried for a cross section of films when given this opportunity. An example would be, in the year 1950, there were 7 films listed. I chose 2 as they are more in the Science Fiction vein then the others.
I have tried to not pick horror film that the studio decided to call Science fiction just to help sell tickets.
There are some notable exceptions with the Hammer films from the UK.
I have also tried to pick films from somewhere other than the U.S.
And yes, I purposely did not put your favorite film on this list just because. So there.
Now, there are films on this list that are icons. If you have not seen them, go see them. Spend some of your Shelter in Place time with great movie that have formed the foundation of Science Fiction Cinema. I have also picked some really cheese movies just for a change of pace... and some cult classics.
The 1950's brought an increase in the SF/F movie. Only 7 films were produced in 1950. towards the end of the decade, it was in the 30's. And, a lot of these films depicted our fear of the Soviet influence of Communism, and the fear of Nuclear War. I remember Duck-and-Cover drills in school. But, they also talked about the danger of damage to the environment for climate change.
And, you should go to the Wikipedia site and read the full descriptions if you are interested in a particular film. Some went on for paragraphs that were too long for this paper.
Destination Moon – winner of the Retroactive Hugo Award 2001
Produced by George Pal Destination Moon was the first major U.S. science fiction film to deal with the practical scientific and engineering challenges of space travel and to speculate on what a manned expedition to the Moon would look like. Famed science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein contributed to the script.
Rocketship X-M - nominated in 2001 for the 1951 Retro Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
From Lippert Pictures, the first outer space adventure of the post-World War II era. Rocketship X-M tells the story of a Moon expedition that, through a series of unforeseen events, winds up traveling instead to distant Mars. Once on the Red Planet, its crew discovers the remnants of a Martian civilization destroyed long ago by atomic war and now reverted to barbarism. This is also the first film to use a Theremin in it's sound track (Sorry Forbidden Planet).
Day the Earth Stood Still
Set in the Cold War during the early stages of the nuclear arms race, the film's storyline involves a humanoid alien visitor who comes to Earth, accompanied by a powerful robot, to deliver an importantmessage that will affect the entire human race.
In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The Thing (from another world)
The film's storyline concerns a U.S. Air Force crew and scientists who find a crashed flying saucer and a humanoid body frozen in the Arctic ice, near the craft. Returning to their remote research outpost with the body still in a block of ice, they are forced to defend themselves against the still alive and malevolent plant-based alien when it is accidentally defrosted.
The film took full advantage of the national feelings in America at the time in order to help enhance the horror elements of the film's storyline. The film reflected a post-Hiroshima skepticism about science and prevailing negative views of scientists who meddle with things better left alone. In the end it is American servicemen and several sensible scientists who win the day over the alien invader.
When Worlds Collide - George Pal Producing
The plot concerns the coming destruction of the Earth by a rogue star called Bellus and the desperate efforts to build a space ark to transport a group of men and women to Bellus' single planet, Zyra.
• When Worlds Collide is one of the many films referenced in the opening theme ("Science Fiction/Double Feature") of both the stage musical The Rocky Horror Show (1973) and its cinematic counterpart, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
• In the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), two cargo containers can be seen labeled "Bellus" and "Zyra" in the Genesis Cave.
• In the film adaptation of L.A. Confidential (1997), tabloid writer Sid Hudgens arranges for the publicity-loving detective officer Jack Vincennes to arrest a young actor on the night of the premiere of When Worlds Collide. This results in photos being taken of the arrest, with the Pantages Theater marquee in the background, accompanied by the headline "Movie Premiere Pot Bust" (the scene is set in 1953, long after the actual 1951 premiere).
Zombies of the Stratosphere - one of the first screen appearances of a young Leonard Nimoy
Intended to be Republic's second serial featuring "new hero" Commando Cody and the third 12-chapter serial featuring the rocket-powered flying jacket and helmet introduced in King of the Rocket Men (1949).
Cat Women of the Moon
Utilizing a spaceship equipped with wooden tables and chairs, a "scientific expedition" to the Moon encounters a race of cat-women, the last survivors of a two-million-year-old lunar civilization.
Invaders From Mars – voted Best Zipper on a Martian costume.
Awakened during a thunderstorm, youngster David MacLean witnesses a brightly lit flying saucer disappear underground in the large sand pit behind his home. When his father investigates, he returns a changed man; soon David's mother, a young neighbor girl, and others begin to act in the same way.
Project Moonbase - based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein.
Project Moonbase is unusual for its time in both attempting to portray space travel in a "realistic" manner and for depicting a future in which women hold positions of authority and responsibility equal to men; as an example, the President of the United States is a woman.
Robert A. Heinlein shares the screenwriting credit with producer Jack Seaman.
War of the Worlds – George Pal, staring Gene Barry
Adaptation of the 1898 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, the first of five feature film adaptations. It is a modern retelling of the 1898 novel, changing the setting from Victorian era-England to 1953 Southern California. Earth is suddenly and unexpectedly invaded by Martians, and American scientist Clayton Forrester searches for any weakness that can stop them.
The War of the Worlds won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and went on to influence other science fiction films. In 2011, it was selected for the United States' National Film Registry in the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The film is adapted from Jules Verne's 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. and one of the first features shot in CinemaScope. It was personally produced by Walt Disney through Walt Disney Productions, directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. It was also the first feature-length Disney film to be distributed by Buena Vista Distribution.
Devil Girl From Mars - U.K.
The film's storyline concerns a female alien commander sent from Mars to acquire human males to replace their declining male population, thereby saving Martian civilization from extinction. When negotiation, then intimidation fails, she must use force to obtain co-operation from a remote Scottish village where she has landed her crippled flying saucer.
Rolling Stone columnist Doug Pratt later called Devil Girl from Mars a "delightfully bad movie". The "acting is really bad and the whole thing is so much fun you want to run to your local community theater group and have them put it on next, instead of Brigadoon." American film reviewer Leonard Maltin said the film is a "hilariously solemn, high camp British imitation of U. S. cheapies"
Godzilla - Gojira Japan
When the Japanese freighter Eiko-maru is destroyed near Odo Island, another ship—the Bingo-maru—is sent to investigate, only to meet the same fate with few survivors. A fishing boat from Odo is also destroyed, with one survivor. Fishing catches mysteriously drop to zero, blamed by an elder on the ancient sea creature known as "Godzilla". Reporters arrive on Odo Island to further investigate. A villager tells one of the reporters that something in the sea is ruining the fishing. That evening, a storm strikes the island, destroying the reporters' helicopter, and Godzilla, briefly seen, destroys 17 homes and kills nine people and 20 of the villagers' livestock.
In the film, Godzilla symbolizes nuclear holocaust from Japan's perspective and has since been culturally identified as a strong metaphor for nuclear weapons.
This Island Earth
It is based on the eponymous 1952 novel by Raymond F. Jones, which was originally published in the magazine Thrilling Wonder Stories as three related novelettes: "The Alien Machine" in the June 1949 issue, "The Shroud of Secrecy" in December 1949, and "The Greater Conflict" in February 1950.
Fire Maidens From outer Space - UK
The discovery of signs of life on the 13th moon of Jupiter leads to the sending of a crew of five chain-smoking male astronauts, armed with handguns, to investigate. On the moon, they rescue Hestia, a beautiful girl, who is being attacked by a monster. They subsequently discover New Atlantis, a dying civilization, a colony of the original Atlantis.
Forbidden Planet pioneered several aspects of science fiction cinema. It was the first science fiction film to depict humans traveling in a faster-than-light star ship of their own creation. It was also the first to be set entirely on another planet in interstellar space, far away from Earth. The Robby the Robot character is one of the first film robots that was more than just a mechanical "tin can" on legs; Robby displays a distinct personality and is an integral supporting character in the film. Outside science fiction, the film was groundbreaking as the first of any genre to use an entirely electronic musical score, courtesy of Bebe and Louis Barron.
Forbidden Planet's effects team was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 29th Academy Awards. In 2013, the picture was entered into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
It is considered one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, a precursor of contemporary science
fiction cinema. The characters and isolated setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and the plot contains certain analogues to the play, leading many to consider it a loose adaptation.
If you see no other film on this list, watch this one.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The film's storyline concerns an extraterrestrial invasion that begins in the fictional California town of Santa Mira. Alien plant spores have fallen from space and grown into large seed pods, each one capable of producing a visually identical replacement copy of a human.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected in 1994 for preservation in the United States National Film
Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
It remains on many Top Ten lists in the Science Fiction community.
20 Million Miles to Earth
The first U.S. spaceship to Venus, the XY-21, crashes into the Mediterranean sea off the coast of Sicily, Italy as fishermen watch. They row to the spacecraft, enter through a hole in the spacecraft and pull two spacemen from the nose-down craft before it completely sinks. A specimen from Venus is release and terror ensues.
The film was based on a concept by Ray Harryhausen called The Giant Ymir.
Quatermass 2 - UK
The film's storyline concerns Quatermass's investigation of reports of hundreds of meteorites landing only in the Winnerden Flats area of the UK. Quatermass 2 is a sequel to Hammer's earlier film The Quatermass Xperiment (1955). It was originally shown in the UK as Quatermass II. Like its predecessor, it is based on the BBC Television serial Quatermass II written by Nigel Kneale. Brian Donlevy reprises his role as the eponymous Professor Bernard Quatermass, making him the only actor to play the character twice in a film.
The Blob – Steve McQueen
The storyline concerns a growing, corrosive, alien amoeboidal entity that crashes to Earth from outer space inside a meteorite. It devours and dissolves citizens in the small communities of Phoenixville and Downingtown, Pennsylvania, growing larger, redder, and more aggressive each time it does so, eventually becoming larger than a building.
The Fly - Vincent Price
The film tells the story of a scientist who is transformed into a grotesque creature after a common house fly enters unseen into a molecular transporter he is experimenting with, resulting in his atoms being combined with those of the insect, which produces a human–fly hybrid.
Queen of Outer Space – Zsa Zsa Gabor
In 1985, Captain Patterson and his space crew take a rocket to a space station near Earth. En route, however, the space station is destroyed by an interstellar energy beam which also affects their rocketship. The space crew crash land on Venus and are captured.
The trade publication Motion Picture Daily reported in 1958 that the National Legion of Decency objected to the content of Queen of Outer Space. In its October 3rd issue, less than a month after the film's release, the magazine provides a few examples of the Legion's classification system for judging a Hollywood production's level of "decency": Of "Queen," the group said it contains "suggestive costuming."
Journey To The Center of The Earth – James Mason, Pat Boone
Based on the 1864 novel of the same name by Jules Verne. In 1880 Edinburgh, Scotland, a geologist at the University of Edinburgh, is given a piece of volcanic rock by his admiring student. Finding the rock unusually heavy, mostly due to carelessness by his lab assistant, discovers a plumb bob inside bearing a cryptic inscription. The professor and his student discover that it was left by a scientist named Arne Saknussemm, who had, almost 300 years earlier, found a passage to the center of the Earth by descending into Snæfellsjökull, a volcano in western Iceland. After translating the message, the professor immediately sets off with his student to follow in the Icelandic pioneer's footsteps.
On The Beach
Based on Nevil Shute's 1957 novel of the same name it depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war. Unlike in the novel, no one is assigned blame for starting the war; the film hints that global annihilation may have arisen from an accident or misjudgment.
In early 1964, in the months following World War III, the conflict has devastated the entirety of the Northern Hemisphere, killing all humans after polluting the atmosphere with nuclear fallout. Air currents are slowly carrying the fallout south; the only areas still habitable are in the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere.
The U.S. Department of Defense refused to cooperate in the production of the film, not allowing access to its nuclear-powered submarines. Additional resources were supplied by the Royal Australian Navy, including the use of the aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne.
Plan 9 From Outer Space – Ed Wood Jr.
The film's storyline concerns extraterrestrials who seek to stop humanity from creating a doomsday weapon that could destroy the universe. The aliens implement "Plan 9", a scheme to resurrect the Earth's dead, referred to as "ghouls". By causing chaos, the aliens hope the crisis will force humanity to listen to them; otherwise the aliens will destroy mankind with armies of the undead.