Futurism

Satellite in the Sky

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

Los platillos voladores

A poor young couple escape their small town in a rocket car and crash land in Mexico City, where they are mistaken for Martians. This Mexican 1956 musical comedy is thin on plot and substance, but charms with its good cast and sincerity. 6/10

Croisières sidérales

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

The World Will Shake

What would happen if a machine could predict the time of death of every living person? This forgotten French SF melodrama from 1939 has a remarkably well-crafted script and a superb cast led by Claude Dauphin and Erich von Stroheim. 7/10

Once in a New Moon

The gravity from a passing “dead star” pulls a small British village into space in this 1934 comedy. Class tensions and romantic rivalry come to the fore as the villagers try to adapt to their new roles as inhabitants of Earth’s newest moon. 4/10

The Mystery of Two Oceans

Jules Verne meets James Bond in this 1957 Soviet spy-fi film. The two-part colour movie concerns the hunt for spy aboard a Russian super-submarine. It’s not bad, but at 145 minutes it’s simply too long and sluggish for its own good. 5/10

Uma Aventura aos 40

Despite starting off in the far-flung future of 1975, Brazil’s first SF movie is primarily a domestic melodrama set in the year it was made, 1947. This poor man’s Citizen Kane is a stated amateur production, but not without merits. 5/10

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

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