The first Superman feature film debuted in 1951 with legendary George Reeves in shoulder pads and a winning grin. Despite a decent budget, it’s shoddy and thinly scripted, although its sincere call for solidarity and inclusiveness carries on the original vision of the comic, and might just win you over. 4/10.
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.
Edward Jekyll tries to clear his family name by recreating his father’s experiments, but a scandal-hungry society, his friends and even his own sanity seems to conspire against him. A laudable, but meandering 1951 low-budget effort from the pen of Jack Pollexfen. 4/10
Preparing for a potential nuclear winter, a team of scientists test the theory that the Earth is hollow, in this 1951 cheapo from visual effects wizards Jack Rabin and Irving Block. Loosely based on Verne and Burroughs, Unknown World has the makings of a good film, but stumbles in all departments. 4/10.
The fate of the world hangs in the balance as the mysterious alien Klaatu arrives on a diplomatic mission to Earth with his deadly robot. Oscar winner Robert Wise’s “subversive” 1951 classic was a radical call for world peace in the midst of McCarthyist blacklistings. Possibly the best of the fifties SF films, this one holds up surprisingly well today. 10/10.
When a rogue planet threatens to collide with Earth, a small team of pioneers start building a space ark in order to begin life anew on a new world. George Pal produces and Rudolph Maté directs this classic from 1951 in nostalgic Technicolor. The script’s weak love triangle and biblical pathos suck some of the juice out of Philip Wylie’s crisp novel, but the visuals and effects are stunning, and the action exciting despite some slow spots. 6/10
A ragtag team led by Cesar Romero searches for a lost missile and finds a radioactive island filled with dinosaurs in what may be Sam Newfield’s finest film. Despite its MST3K-tarnished reputation and a whole lot of padding, it’s well worth a look. 5/10.
Uproar in the British textile industry as scientist invents indestructible fabric! Hear all about in this uproarious, witty, and extremely well directed 1951 Ealing comedy, starring Sir Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood. One of the best SF pictures of the fifties, despite a slow start and a certain lack of emotional investment. 8/10.
Arch Oboler’s indie film from 1951 was the first to portray the aftermath of nuclear war. Heavy on biblical reference and weighed down with pompous monologues and slow pacing, the film nonetheless boasts striking cinematography and a gritty, bleak vision of the future. 6/10
Often overshadowed by it’s remake, Howard Hawks’ 1951 adaptation of John W. Campbell’s novella is still a stellar picture. This ensemble piece was the movie that finally blew the door open for science fiction in Hollywood, and has inspired a generation of filmmakers. 9/10
Director Edgar G. Ulmer turns this 1951 low-budget movie about an alien visitor to a small village into a visually atmospheric, intelligent Expressionist moral tale, as Hollywood brings the first alien invasion film to the big screen. Unfortunately the low budget, pacing problems and a mediocre script hamper this minor classic. 6/10
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and future Doctor Who Jon Pertwee star in a British atomic age screwball comedy set on a farm. Mr. and Mrs. Drake see their lives upended as the military invades their farm chasing a duck that lays uranium eggs. Future Quatermass director Val Guest makes a light-hearted comedy that leaves more to be desired. 4/10
Dr. Jekyll gets a family in this Argentine rarity from 1951, which is probably the earliest preserved non-US adaptation of R.L. Stevenson’s famous novella. Actor/director Mario Soffici impresses both in the dual title role and with his moody, impressionist lighting schemes and editing.
An Oscar nominee for best picture, MGM:s 1950 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel dazzled audiences with its Technicolor images of African wildlife and exotic natives. However, the film more closely resembles a nature documentary than a work of narrative cinema. 3/10