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
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?
A lady entomologist channels her inner secret agent when sent on a dangerous mission to an Eastern European country in this British 1950 spy-fi comedy thriller written by author Eric Ambler. 6/10
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
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
An atom powered rocket and a train car are at the centre of proceedings in this 1955 hee haw musical comedy from Republic. Singing low-brow comedienne Judy Canova and an able cast do what they can to overcome the insipid script. 2/10
One of the first “empty city” movies, this 1954 low-budget clunker starring SF legend Richard Denning has all the trappings of a taut, character-driven SF classic. Unfortunately the hackneyed script does away with much of its potential. 4/10
a star cast, this 1954 Disney blockbuster is regularly seen as the best Jules Verne adaptation of all time. Shot in majestic Technicolor, it is a magnificent adventure film with groundbreaking special effects, despite a so-so script. 8/10
Strange deaths occur at an underground US research facility controlled by a computer. Suspicion falls on two helper robots, Gog and Magog. This 1954 Ivan Tors thriller in colour has a great setup, but feels more like a science lesson than an SF film. 5/10
Masked vigilante El Medico Asesino beats up bad guys with his wonderboy sidekick. The first wrestler superhero movie of Mexico, this 1954 release was intended as a serial. Despite its qualities, it’s too long and incoherent as a movie. 4/10
In Abram Room’s 1953 Soviet propaganda film an evil scientist creates a deadly nuclear dust against the backdrop of racial oppression in the US. As SF it is derivative and clunky, but as a description of Jim Crow America it is eerily accurate. 5/10
Shot on 16,000 USD in 1953, this cult classic is as inept as it is unique. Told as a boy’s surreal nightmare, it features an alien robot gorilla in a diving helmet experiencing an existential crisis as he is about to wipe out the last six people on Earth. And soap bubbles. 7/10
An everlasting classic and a pioneering work, George Pal’s 1953 alien invasion epic set the standard for visuals in SF movies. Unfortunately, in removing itself from H.G. Wells’ themes, the script loses both its poignancy and its dramatic functionality. 7/10
Five American bar patrons who oppose the universal draft experience what a nuclear-fuelled invasion by the Soviet Union would entail. If one film should exemplify the hysterical red scare of the fifties, it is this low-budget propaganda piece from 1952.
This 1952 cold war spy thriller sees Inuit actor Ray Mala battling the Arctic cold of stock footage lifted from half a dozen other films, including his own. A tacked-on plot about a Soviet super-weapon pales next to the great nature (stock) footage. 3/10