The Saturday Matinée ~ "This Island Earth"
Please see a spoiler alert and the design and intent of these "The Saturday Matinée" film recommendations at ~ "The Saturday Matinee ~ a preview".
There have always been 'space' movies. As early as 1902 the French filmmaker Georges Méliès was astounding audiences with his "A Trip to The Moon", nearly 40 years before Buck Rogers would hit the big screen. But it was in the 1950s, the atomic age, that most (particularly baby-boomers) think of as the golden era of Hollywood outer space SciFi films. And when most think of the great space movies of the 50s they inevitably think of 1956's "Forbidden Planet" . . . then perhaps "The War of the Worlds" from 1953. Both are very good films with much to recommend them, but for me, neither are as good as the earth-bound "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" ('56) or "The Day the Earth Stood Still" ('51).
With his collected Earth scientists, Exeter returns to Metaluna hoping to save his dying planet
As Science fiction, outer space movies go, "Forbidden Planet" and "The War of the Worlds"are great - but "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" are film masterpieces whether considered within the SciFi genre or simply as Hollywood films.
But, if we are talking specifically about SciFi outer space movies (and we are because it's my hub, and I am) then my vote eagerly goes to "This Island Earth" as the best space movie of the 1950's golden era. With a cool space ship, a compelling alien, an interesting plot, and an easy to root for hero and a beautiful and appropriately adventurous yet fearful heroine, 1955's "This Island Earth" is my favorite 50's outer space movie.
Arriving at what appears to be the doomed planet Metaluna, how will our heroes manage to ever return safely to earth?
Scientist Carl Meacham begins to have never ordered electronic parts arrive at his laboratory, and then a massive catalog and instruction manual. Not only did he not order this electronic equipment, but they (are course) beyond the capacity of any known Earth science. As he flips through the instruction manual ("Why, this isn't paper - it's some kind of flexible metal") he determines that he is going to construct what the mysterious catalog calls, an interocitor.
Once construction is complete and the interocitor is turned on, Exeter appears in the large triangular screen . . . a very pleasant, business suited fellow whose hair is just a little too whit and whose forehead is just a little too large. Eventually we discover that Dr. Meacham is just one of a number of scientists that have been enlisted by Exeter to aid his home planet, which he fears is doomed. The distant planet Metaluna is losing a war with a neighboring planet and they either need the particular research Earth scientists have had some success with, or they need an appropriate planet to escape to - which will it be?!
"This Island Earth" is, more than any other movie I can think of, a comic book come to life. The posters announced '3 years in the making' and this was not merely a promotional blurb - the film was shot in 3-part Technicolor, a very uncommon and costly process. The result is a very crisp and vibrant movie that appears, almost like vivid pages of a living comic book. And the story and characters were very much like the best DC SciFi comic books of the 1960s as well. Now, that analogy may appeal to some and not to others, but the movie is great fun for kids and grown-ups alike . . . a wonderful, I think the best, example of 1950s Hollywood space movies - a classic.