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Janne Wass

Janne is a journalist and magazine editor from Finland, who in his spare time runs the science fiction blog Scifist.

Top 25 Non-English SF Films Pre-1950

Much of the heritage in SF movies comes from non-English language films from the first half of the 20th century, many of which are largely unknown to an English-speaking audience today. Here we list the 25 greatest non-English language science fiction movies made prior to 1950. How many have you seen?

World Without End

The first US time machine film from 1956 is a fun but clunky Technicolor adventure. Astronauts accidentally travel 500 years into the future, where the meek, pacifist human survivors hide from barbaric mutants in an underground civilisation. 5/10

La sombra vengadora

All but forgotten, but immensely important for the birth of the luchador superhero genre, this 1954 romp following the exploits of “The Avenging Shadow” is a surprisingly good action film in the Republic serial vein. 6/10

Indestructible Man

A 1956 cult classic, this gangster-monster mashup with Lon Chaney Jr. as a super-charged avenger suffers from the cutting of most of Chaney’s lines, and with them key scenes. Decent performances & good location shooting make it worth a watch. 3/10

Forbidden Planet

Based on Shakespeare, MGM’s 1956 epic starring Anne Francis & Leslie Nielsen is a landmark SF movie. The pulpy premise of space explorers saving a virgin from an alien monster hides surprisingly serious and adult themes. 9/10

Stolen Face

A plastic surgeon believes that by giving a scarred female criminal a pretty new face, he can reform her. The twist in this 1952 Hammer entry by Terence Fisher is that the surgeon gives the criminal the face of the woman he loves, and marries her. 5/10

Fly by Night

Robert Siodmak shows his skill as a director in this early 1942 screwball comedy starring later SF star Richard Carlson and Oscar nominee Nancy Kelly, as they chase a Nazi superweapon, trying to prove Carlson’s innocense in a murder case. 7/10

She

The famous 1925 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s novel is best remembered for Betty Blythe’s varied states of undress. While UFA provides handsome set pieces, the British production falters in the directing and cinematography departments. 3/10

Up the Ladder

Universal’s 1925 silent melodrama is a riches-to-rags story on steroids, focusing on the inventor of a video phone. With money and fame he neglects his wife, who secretly holds 50 percent of his company. A competent but forgettable programmer. 5/10

The Intrigue

A well-produced spy-fi melodrama of the serial mold, this 1916 silent scripted by pioneer Julia Crawford Ivers may be the earliest preserved American science fiction feature film. Frank Lloyd’s nifty directorial touches add to its appeal. 6/10

Kvinnens plass

A photo of a UFO propels journalist Tore Haugen into a stellar career, while her colleague and husband becomes a stay-at-home dad. This well-made Norwegian marital comedy from 1956 manages to be progressive and reactionary at the same time. 7/10

1984

The first feature film depicting George Orwell’s dystopian vision of a totalitarian future capture the book’s bleak atmosphere well. A miscast leading couple and Michael Anderson’s uninspired direction prevent the movie from reaching its potential. 5/10