History of Sci-Fi Cinema 13: “Invaders From Mars”

invaders_from_mars_poster_01Invaders From Mars (1953)
Written by Richard Blake, from a story by John Tucker Battle
Directed by William Cameron Menzies
Produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr., Edward L. Alperson
20th Century Fox
Starring Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz

Wikipedia describes the Second Red Scare as having inspired movies and literature to produce “stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings.” There is perhaps no clearer or less subtle example of that than Invaders From Mars, with body snatches, mind control, personality change, threat of invasion, etc. Not that these themes are rare in science fiction of this period, but here they are so “on the nose.” The performances are far from nuanced, the Americanism proudly flag-waving, and the music dramatic and obvious. And yet … it turned out to be a highly enjoyable viewing.

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History of Sci-Fi Cinema 12: “When Worlds Collide” & “War of the Worlds”

12-WWCWhen Worlds Collide (1951)
Written by Sydney Boehm, based on the novel by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie
Directed by Rudolph Maté
Produced by George Pal
Paramount Pictures
Starring Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen

12-WotWWar of the Worlds (1953)
Written by Barré Lyndon, based on the novel by H. G. Wells
Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by George Pal
Paramount Pictures
Starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson

As I’m running a bit behind in my blog, I decided to combine my next two entries into one, as the next two make a fitting pairing: two towering accomplishments of cinema sci-fi, a double-feature of destruction by producer George Pal, these two films couldn’t be more similar — and at the same time, more different. Both inspired by influential works of fiction, both depicting the end of the world, both depicting strong Christian beliefs and themes, and both with a ray of hope at the end.

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