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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Earth versus the Flying Saucers - 1956

Man, I love this movie! SF movies from the pre-Soyuz era have a certain innocence about them that I love and this is one of my favorites. We've all become a little jaded by regular launchings of the space shuttle. We see it take off and land on the ten o'clock news and think, "Ho-hum, another trip to space. Big deal." But remember, back in the fifties it was a big deal. We hadn't done it yet, we hadn't been up there. "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" is just one of many imaginings of what rocketry could look like. Clips of V-2s (very popular in fifties SF) are interspersed to add realism.

In "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" we have a couple of young rocket scientists who just happen to be newly-weds, played by Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor. I want you to notice something here: one of the scientists is a woman. True, her role is still more or less secondary to that of the husband, but she's portrayed as intelligent and capable, possessing a keen scientific mind, and this is 1956, mind you.

Special effects are supplied by Ray Harryhausen, grand old man of stop motion photography. Any flick with Harryhausen doing effects is worth watching.

Once again, intrepid young scientists are faced with overwhelming odds. An invading force of flying saucers launch an all-out attack on Earth. Impervious to bullets, bazookas, mortars, cannons, they seem unstoppable. All seems lost until the hero figures out they are susceptible to one thing - high frequency sound. Armed with their new weapon they defeat the invaders, sending disabled saucers crashing into more than one famous Washington, DC landmark.

Hokey? Sure. Contrived? A bit. But you definitely need to add this one to your must watch list.