Okay, not me, but the hapless heroine in a 1950’s sci-fi movie I watched last night did.
I would recommend that you never watch three 1950’s sci-fi movies in a row, as I did last night. I had planned on getting rid of my cable television entirely. But I was able to get a package that cut my bill in half but at least allowed me to keep the basic channels, which includes Turner Classic Movies.
I love TCM.
Anyway, last night they were showing a bunch of sci-fi movies from the 1950s. I was only able to watch three of them. However, as a result I had the strangest dreams! The first movie was I Married a Monster from Outer Space, which starred Tom Tryon.
Interestingly enough, Tom Tryon went on to become a best-selling author in the late 60s. He plays a man who, the night before his wedding, is kidnapped by aliens and replaced by one. He marries his bride but she soon begins to notice strange things about him. Like, for example, he’s emotionless, he can see in the dark, and dogs and cats don’t seem to like him very much.
The aliens, while trying to escape from their dying planet, took just a little too long to build their spaceships and, as a result, all their women died from radiation. They’ve come to earth to–you guessed it—breed with earth women in order to continue their species. The movie was actually, in spite of the title, not that bad.
The second movie was the classic, original, 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’d actually never seen that movie in its entirety. I’d seen snippets of it, particularly the scene when Kevin McCarthy is running up and down the highway, trying to warn angry or oblivious drivers that aliens have invaded and are replacing everyone with pod people.
It was really good. Fast-paced and it had some really scary moments.
The final movie was one I had never heard of. The 27th Day. It starred Gene Barry who, a few years earlier, had starred in the 1956 version of War of the Worlds, a favorite of mine.
This was a strange movie. An alien, from another dying world, comes to earth as the vanguard of an invading force. However, these aliens have a moral code which forbids them from killing sentient life. Instead, the alien plucks five people at random from around the world: an American journalist, a young English woman on holiday with her boyfriend, a German scientist, a Chinese woman in a war-torn province and a young Russian private.
He gives all five these boxes, which only they can open. He tells them that within the boxes are three capsules, which when activated will kill all human life within a specified radius. Only humans will die. No buildings will be destroyed, no other forms of life will be touched. If any of the five should die their specific device will not work.
After 27 days the devices will deactivate. If they have not been been used by the 27th day (thus the title) the aliens will leave Earth in peace.
He returns the five to where they were abducted. The English girl immediately throws her device in the ocean. The Chinese girl kills herself. However, the three men, the American, the German and the Russian hang on to their devices.
The aliens are, of course, banking on the idea that humans, violent and self-destructive as we are, will not be able to resist using the devices before the 27 days are up.
Before the three men can decide what to do about their devices, however, that cheeky alien sends out a world-wide broadcast not only alerting Earth to the presence of said aliens but he also names the five people to whom he has bequeathed these devices.
The world, of course, panics, and a search is on for the five people and their devices.
This movie was made during the time when people still used the term “The Iron Curtain” so you can imagine the panic that ensues in America when it’s discovered a soldier in the Soviet Union also has the device. This movie was more about the fear of the spread of Communism that was prevalent in the 50’s than it was about the fear of aliens.
But then, you could say that the other two movies were also about the fear of Communism. The fact that one of the clues in both movies that someone was an alien was a sudden absence of emotion seems to factor into a fear that people may have had back then that the ones they knew and loved could suddenly not be the persons they thought they were. Probably a reflection of the fear that Communists were infiltrating America back in the 1950s.
I’m sure that when people in the future look back at the movies we made in the early part of the 21st century, inferences about what was prevalent in our cultural consciousness will also be drawn.
In spite of those cultural quirks, however, I like 1950’s sci-fi movies. Even the really bad ones. There was an earnestness about them. A sort of naiveté that I find appealing.
But I would definitely not watch three in a row like that. Seriously, I had the strangest dreams as result. Really weird dreams! One was so weird I’m compelled to actually write a story about it. 🙂