This UK/USA clunker from 1956 is the weakest of all 50’s “Amazons in Space” variations. Astronauts chase a monster in black pyjamas through Surrey fields, pretending it’s the 13th moon of Jupiter, while maidens undulate to the music of Borodin. 0/10
The UK’s 1956 answer to Destination Moon is visually impressive, but marred by a tedious script and uninspired direction. But it does offer a chance to see Lois Maxwell before her Miss Moneypenny fame, and Thespian Donald Wolfit in a space suit. 5/10
A company offers “time trips” 25 years into the future through the science of time dilation in space. It’s a passable entertainment romp, but this French 1942 comedy fails to make anything interesting out of the intriguing premise. 5/10
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?
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
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
In 1955 Hammer kickstarted its legendary horror franchise with a dark and unsettling adaptation of a 1953 TV series. An astronaut brings back an unspeakable horror from space, which begins its invasion of Earth by mutating its host. 8/10
Bert I. Gordon’s 1955 directorial debut sees four scientists completely uninterested in exploring a new planet and doing “darn science stuff”. After battling stock footage and superimposed insects, they detonate a nuclear bomb and go home. 0/10
An implausible, ill-conceived and sluggish script is the bane of George Pal’s 1955 Technicolor space epic. The visuals in this first trip to Mars are (mostly) superb, which make the bizarre plot and deadly dialogue stand out like a sore thumb. 4/10
It’s a battle of the sexes when an incompetent female pilot is chosen for political reasons to lead the first mission around the moon. The sexist script by Robert Heinlein for this 1953 film is not bettered by a limp cold war espionage angle. 1/10
The first “Amazon Women in Space” film, this 1953 low-budget clunker is one of the dumbest films ever made. However, despite its borrowed sets, atrocious acting and ludicrous script, it is thoroughly fun in its naivety. 3/10
Hugely influential, BBC’s 1953 mini-series about an alien virus mutating their hosts was a massive British TV event. Aired live, its sets were clunky and the acting stiff, but the great script and innovative direction overcome the flaws even today. 6/10
The first team of explorers to Mars are welcomed and double-crossed by a Martian civilisation attempting to hijack their rocket and invade Earth. A 1951 low-budget effort by Monogram, the movie’s striking for its visuals, but badly scripted and routinely directed. 5/10.
The first SF anthology TV show aired live in the US from 1951 to 1953. With material by some of the greatest SF authors of all time, its adult-oriented, intelligent scripts are often unsettling to watch even today. The cast boasts Leslie Nielsen, Rod Steiger, Paul Newman, Eva Gabor, James Dean, Joanne Woodward and many more. 6/10
In 1950 Hollywood finally produced its first first serious, big-budget space film. With the help of luminaries like Robert Heinlein, Hermann Oberth and Chesley Bonestell, future SF icon George Pal produced a visually stunning but dramatically stale epic, heavily influenced by the red scare. 6/10