The 1950’s brought such a boom to the genre of science fiction, that the decade can not be contained in a single segment.
That is why the decade is being split into ten separate segments, beginning with the obvious choice of 1950.
After the genre lagged in the post war days – we Americans wanted romance and love and music after the horrors of battle – 1950 brought cinema closer to the moon than it had been in over a decade.
The first major sci-fi film to start filming in 1950, was the George Pal-produced Destination Moon.
Being the story of a manned flight to the moon, Pal’s film was meant to be a realistic look at space travel.
No monsters or space battles, but just a methodical take on what space travel might be like.
Looking back on the film now, it is full of glaring mistakes and obvious errors, but in 1950, eleven years before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, it may have looked quite realistic indeed.
Destination Moon was meant to be the first major sci-fi film out of Hollywood since before the war, but in the end, it was not.
Due to post production delays, the small outfit known as Lippert Pictures, managed to make their own rocket to the moon movie in just 18 days, and got it onto US movie screens 25 days before Pal got his much higher profile film into theaters. The Lippert Pictures film, Rocketship X-M, was, in no surprising manner, a much lesser quality film, and even more ridiculous in the burgeoning science of space travel reality.
This being said, Pal’s Destination Moon may not have been the first one to be seen up on the screen, but it was surely the bigger hit of the two.
Destination Moon, produced by one of the biggest non-mainstream producers of the time, and directed by a wrongfully blacklisted director, ended up winning a special Academy Award for Special Effects, and was a big winner at the very first Berlin Film Festival.
Rocketship X-M, a film that takes our intrepid space travelers beyond the moon, and onto Mars, on the other hand, was a flop, and would eventually be one of many super B-movies mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It did star a young Lloyd Bridges though.
1950 also saw several other sci-fi films.
The dinosaur monster movie, Two Lost Worlds, obviously taking liberties with the silent classic The Lost World, and the incredibly bad – but in a kind of fun way – Flying Saucer, a theme that would be greatly improved on as the decade would progress, were two of the more “major” alternative sci-fi releases of 1950, but it was the double teaming of the race to space movies of Destination Moon and Rocketship X-M, that would fire the proverbial starter gun of the heyday of a genre.
Well, that’s it for 1950.
Next time, I will be back with 1951, and two of the best one-man alien invasion movies ever made, The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing From Another World. If you want to get a sneak peek at other films coming in our look at the great decade of the 1950’s, check out a piece I did for Anomalous Material, entitled, appropriately enough I suppose, The 10 Best 1950’s Sci-Fi Films. Until next time.