As any teenage nerd will tell you (and I still remember being one myself, oh so long ago), being into sci-fi (or for that matter, comics, video games of fantasy role-playing), does not exactly bring all the girls to the yard.
Science Fiction has always been an overwhelmingly male dominated genre, and even though women were the focus of several sci-fi films in 1952, the mere fact that these women were more often than not, sexual objects, slave girls, being kidnapped for breeding purposes or impregnated by a mandrake root (yeah, you read that correctly), the inherent misogyny of the genre would not be changing anytime soon.
To be honest, it really hasn’t even changed to this day, but that is another story for another time.
The film is set in the year 3000, in a post apocalyptic New York, and is not really as sexually exploitative as the title would have you first believe. The film also went by the titles 1000 Years from Now and 3000 A.D., but the producers figured the provocative Captive Women would bring ’em in more. It didn’t really, but hey, it was worth a try.
The film is the first Hollywood movie to seriously deal with the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Cheaply made, and trust me, it shows, but it is an important film if only for being a first in a genre that would go on to include everything from Planet of the Apes to Alas Babylon to Children of Men to 28 Days Later to the Mad Max series. The acting and the writing? Well, let’s just move on to another “women’s” film to come out in 1952.
Going from confusingly titled Captive Women to the more aptly titled Untamed Women, we take a look at a foursome of WWII airmen who crash land on a supposedly deserted island, only to find the place filled with dinosaurs and cavemen and women.
A cheap precursor to things such as the Raquel Welch vehicle One Million Years B.C. and Marvel Comics’ very own Savage Land, Untamed Women is nothing more than an excuse to put pretty girls in scantily-clad animal skins – not that there is anything wrong with that. But I digress.
Probably the most intriguing sci-fi film of 1952 wasn’t even from here in the states.
It was a German film called Alraune, about a mad scientist who creates a soulless woman, based on an old Germanic myth about a woman being impregnated by a mandrake root. Made as a moody horror film – a descendant of Germany’s expressionistic film movement of the silent era – Alraune may also be cheaply made, like many of the sci-fi films of the 1950’s, but that cheapness does not show as glaringly in the intriguing film that surrounds said cheapness.
The 1950’s were full of movie serials, and one of the most famous was Commando Cody. Basically a Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers wannabe, the first in this long running serial was Radar Men From the Moon.
But the best serial of the day was the one that starred a certain George Reeves as a certain super man from the planet Krypton. Beginning as a teaser serial of sorts, The Adventures of Superman was one of the very first hit shows on the still young medium of television.
Beginning in 1952 and running for six seasons, The Adventures of Superman is a legitimately well-made TV show, in a day and age of a lot of cheese.
I rewatched many of the episodes when I was preparing this column, and the feeling of adventure that was there when I first saw them as reruns in my childhood (no, I am not old enough to have seen the original airings) was still fully intact.
A great show, which may have had some silly aspects (the series did tend to get sillier in the later seasons, perhaps jumping the shark a bit, if you will), but a great show indeed. One that is easily available on DVD, and one I highly recommend for anyone who is interested in superheroes and science fiction.
I will be back next time with a look at 1953, with a slew of sci-fi releases (and there were a hell of a lot in 1953), highlighted by two of the best films of the genre and the time, as well as one of the worst films ever made, of any genre and any time. See ya then. If you want to get another view of the sci-fi films of the greatest of decades, 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…