Quick! A meteor the size of Texas is heading toward Earth and you only have the next five minutes to name your five favorite sci-fi flicks from the 1950s!
While you're mulling that over, let me waste some more of your last minutes on Earth by noting that Star Trek Into Darkness opens this week in the U.S., which prompted me to revisit 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which prompted thoughtful comments from readers who felt perfectly fine with the core ideas behind ST:TMP, which made me think of other philosophical science-fiction pictures, which made me realize that what I really wanted to do was write briefly about some of the films that grew my interest in science fiction in the first place. And so ...
Here are mine, in ascending order:
5. The War of the Worlds (1953)
At some point, one of my school teachers played our class the radio drama by Orson Wells' Mercury Theatre, which is quite powerful and probably diminished (somewhat) my enjoyment of the film. Still: there's no stopping the Martians! (Unless you sneeze on them.)
4. The Thing From Another World (1951)
Whether it was the credited director Christian Nyby or producer Howard Hawks who was ultimately responsible, I believed! (But, yes, John Carpenter's version is superior.)
3. Them! (1954)
Probably the film most responsible for my unhealthy relationship with insects. And the sounds of the giant ants! Maybe it was watching the movies the first dozen times on little TVs with mono audio, but nothing has ever matched the insect sounds in this movie. (Or the alien laser blasts in The War of the Worlds.)
2. Godzilla / Gojira (1954)
Since I saw Raymond Burr explain the giant monster in English first, I have to give props to the American version, which gave me goosepimples. Later, when I saw the dark and truly frightening original Japanese version, it made me wonder what kind of nightmares I would have had if I'd seen it first.
1. Forbidden Planet (1956)
This takes my personal crown because it's the one I've watched the most often over the years, first in black and white on TV (with commercials), then in color on TV (with commercials), then in color on VHS (without commericials), then in color on TV (without commercials -- thanks, TCM!), then in color on DVD, then in color on the magnifcent Blu-ray. I'm not blind anymore to the cheesier aspects of the production, or the dated talk about the Id, but I still wanted to marry Anne Francis and become Leslie Nielsen. The sounds, the colors -- and the attack of the Id -- still electrify me. (I guess I really am just a middle-aged kid.)
Now it's your turn. Wikipedia has a handy list of science fiction films of the 1950s.
What are your picks?