1950's Science Fiction Movies

In a time when movies were just starting to get their feet moving, the idea around science fiction was exploding. Talk of UFOs and life from other planets were in the newspaper daily; the space race between Russia and the United States was in infant stages; and imagination - and stories - of the subject were booming.

The 50's science fiction movies that came to be are now cherished around the world as sci fi classics; they are given the title of the founders of the science fiction genre. And rightly so. The stories and themes that were developed over 50 years ago are still found in more current sci fi movies - they are even found in movies that are not science fiction at all.

It seems space is more transcendent than once thought.

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It was such a sci fi classic that it was remade almost 50 years later.
It was such a sci fi classic that it was remade almost 50 years later. | Source

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

Most likely the most defining and important 1950's science fiction movie. The story is simple: an alien comes to Earth and becomes involved with a mother and her son. He has come to deliver a message - and, yes, he stops all clocks on Earth in order to gain the attention of the government - a very important message.

What's the message? Well it's one of the most important themes that we can carried with us for the last 50 years:

Stop using nuclear weapons. Stop killing each other. In other words - be peaceful.

No other 50's science fiction movie had such a humane subject.

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Perhaps When Worlds Collide provided inspiration for Armageddon, a movie made four decades later.
Perhaps When Worlds Collide provided inspiration for Armageddon, a movie made four decades later. | Source

When Worlds Collide (1951)

The first classic sci fi movie to bring the idea of Armageddon to the big screen. When Worlds Collide is just how the title sounds - literally. It's about how a another planet has entered our solar system and is in direct route to hit Earth and consequently destroy it. The people living on Earth have to come together - forget all the war and hate - and build colony ships to leave the planet.

This kind of message, as well as the special effects, had never been seen or done before so, as you can imagine, it turned out to be a very affecting movie. One of the best 1950's science fiction movies and, like The Day The Earth Stood Still, a defining sci fi classic.

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Walter Pidgeon, second from the left in this picture, was the main character in Forbidden Planet.
Walter Pidgeon, second from the left in this picture, was the main character in Forbidden Planet. | Source

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Another classic science fiction movie from the 1950's - this one, again, with a different theme. Forbidden Planet is a simple space story - at least it is now. Back then the story was very new for its time, a reaching story that moved us farther into the universe.

A spaceship visits a planet where a colony hasn't been heard from for a very long time. The planet used to be inhabited by a super-advanced species but they were annihilated unexpectedly; many of the colonists, except for two people, have also died.

Remember Robbie the Robot? He had his first appeareance in Forbidden Planet.

You know it's one of the best 1950's science fiction movies when one of it's characters spawns on TV shows or that it was remade, with a different title, years later (Lost Planet).

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H G Wells one of the greatest science fiction writers wrote 'The War of the Worlds'
H G Wells one of the greatest science fiction writers wrote 'The War of the Worlds' | Source

The War of the Worlds (1953)

Another theme, another sci fi classic. This 1950's science fiction movie moves away from the theme of aliens bringing a message of peace to Earth into the opposite realm. In War of the Worlds aliens instead come to Earth to destroy it's people. This was the first time that the science fiction genre decided to be wholly violent against itself, causing inception of the idea that maybe not all life out there - if there is any - is a good thing.

Based off the novel by H.G Wells, The War of the Worlds, was one of the scariest science fiction films of the 50's - not because of horror tactics but because of the idea it presented. It one the Oscar for best special effects in 1953.

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Kirk Douglas starred as Captain Nemo in this defining movie of the science fiction genre.
Kirk Douglas starred as Captain Nemo in this defining movie of the science fiction genre. | Source

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

A much more fantasy type of science fiction that was one of the only 1950's science fiction movies to not feature space. This one, instead, went the other direction.

A classic disney adventure that featured giant squid and other underwater imaginations, this is a classic sci fi film based off one of the most beloved science fiction books - 20 000 leagues under the sea.

The ideas from this movie - or I should say novel - have been transcendent; you can see it's touch in movies and stories today.

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More 50's Science Fiction Movies

The list of 1950's science fiction movies is actually large - but, you know the old saying, quantity doesn't mean quality.  The five mentioned above are classic sci fi films, defining even.  The ideas they presented have become ingrained in our culture ever since.  A nostagic thank you should be given to these greats. 

Other science fiction films from the 1950's:

  • Destination Moon (1950)
  • It Came From Outer Space (1953)
  • Them! (1954)
  • This Island Earth (1955)
  • Earth vs The Flying Saucers (1956)
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space (1956)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
  • Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
  • The Blob (1958)


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Comments 1 comment

ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

A pretty good hub. However the caption under Kirk Douglas picture is wrong. James Mason played captain Nemo, Douglas was a salior captured by the natilus.

I love 50's horror movies and sci-fi. I think it is because our T.V. had 3 stations. About 7 of 10 movies were western's. Catching a Sci-fi or Horror movie was a rare treat.

Them, Earth vs the Flying Saucers and Gorgo remain my favorites.

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