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Author Topic: 1950s Sci Fi  (Read 625 times)
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zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« on: 03-01-2020 01:46 »

I just watched The Creature From The Black Lagoon. I thought it was very good, well worth the time.


Overall I'm glad I watched it.
David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #1 on: 03-04-2020 09:09 »

I saw the 3-D version in the theater, back in the 80s when the whole 3-D movie fad came around again.  (It's come back around a few more times since then.)

Quote
The good guy is too good, and the bad guy is too bad.

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with this as a complaint.  In my opinion, movies need more of this, not less.
zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #2 on: 03-07-2020 02:45 »

Quote
I'm going to go ahead and disagree with this as a complaint.  In my opinion, movies need more of this, not less.

I don't disagree, I tend to think that there's too much reliance on using the moral greyzone as a proxy for complexity.

In the case of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, though, I guess my problem was more that it was too obvious, from the outset, how the characters would react to any moral choice.

Too add to the original theme, I just watched 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', which was also good. The commentary on conformism was nicely done.

(I'll go ahead and skip the 'spoiler' tag here, it's seeming a bit ridiculous to use it for movies that are >50 years old...)

One part I don't get, though, is the mechanism that the pods use to take people over. Through most of the movie, it seems like it relies on the pods growing into a physical replica of the person. But, in the part where Becky (the main character's love interest) converts into an alien, there's no pod involved: she just has to fall asleep to be converted. It's unclear to me whether the alien takeover is a physical replacement by pod-people, or a kind of mental takeover of individuals after they fall asleep.
David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #3 on: 03-07-2020 05:35 »

In the case of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, though, I guess my problem was more that it was too obvious, from the outset, how the characters would react to any moral choice.

Sure, I get what you're saying.  The movie doesn't really try to build suspense about what moral choices the characters will make.  I guess they figured that the audience wasn't really there to see that; the audience was there to see, you know, the Creature.  There's a good guy, and there's a bad guy, and that's enough.

That wouldn't really fly with audiences nowadays.  Audiences nowadays expect a bit more characterization than that, which can still be done without, as you said, using a moral greyzone as a substitute for complexity.  I suppose in that respect "dated" is an apt description after all.

I wish that I could comment on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I really don't remember any details about it.  Actually, I'm not sure if I've ever seen it, although I know what it's about, so no worries on the decades old spoiler.  I should probably watch that sometime and see if I remember having seen any of it.
zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #4 on: 03-09-2020 04:12 »

It's worth the time to rewatch, I'd say. I'd put 'Body Snatchers' in the category of serious sci-fi; it's not an action or comedy, instead it's more of a thriller with underlying social commentary themes. In that way it's similar to the original 'The day the earth stood still'.

Once nice thing about both movies is that they rely so little on special effects, yet still manage to tell sci-fi stories.
zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #5 on: 03-14-2020 07:01 »

... and on to Forbidden Planet now. It really, really plays like a precursor to Star Trek TOS, in the best possible way. The setup is similar too to some TNG (especially the episode 'The Survivors'). Leslie Nielson playing a serious character is a bonus, he looks very different, but his voice gives him away.
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #6 on: 03-14-2020 10:37 »

Oh, yeah...compare the style of Forbidden Planet with that of The Menagerie, with all the footage from the original pilot. Especially the inertial damping pads to the transporter pads. smile

David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #7 on: 03-14-2020 14:41 »

Leslie Nielson playing a serious character

Serious roles were what he was known for before Airplane!; that was the joke.  The joke was so funny that he's now remembered more for Airplane! and his later comedic roles than for his earlier serious ones.
tyraniak

Urban Legend
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« Reply #8 on: 03-15-2020 15:07 »

Yeah, I grew up with him as a slapstick guy and I remember watching an old episode of MASH where he plays a megalomaniac commanding officer and it totally took me by surprise until I learned he started out doing drama
zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #9 on: 03-16-2020 04:43 »

He did a good job at it in Forbidden Planet, at least. He played the role convincingly. There was even a sense of humor where appropriate. No more than you'd expect from any other dramatic actor, but it was there. It's tempting to say that his character in this movie displayed more of a sense of humor than his character in Police Squad.
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #10 on: 03-16-2020 07:51 »

I've only watched it twice, and not back in the day. And to me, "back in the day" is watching the original pilot of Lost In Space have its premier on broadcast television. In glorious Black & White, mind you! I still curse it for introducing me to the awfulness known as the "cliffhanger" ending. Bastards!

But yes, Forbidden Planet holds up surprisingly well. I also loved Nielson in Hot Shots. A couple of the gags are epic.



Gorky

Space Pope
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« Reply #11 on: 03-16-2020 18:51 »

Leslie Nielson playing a serious character

Serious roles were what he was known for before Airplane!; that was the joke.  The joke was so funny that he's now remembered more for Airplane! and his later comedic roles than for his earlier serious ones.

You are describing what is known as Leslie Nielsen Syndrome on TV Tropes.

I know nothing of 1950s sci-fi but am an avid reader of TV Tropes, so I thought I'd share that little tidbit. I'll see myself out now...
David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #12 on: 03-16-2020 23:18 »

And he has the same name as the syndrome!  What are the odds?

I hope that anyone who clicks on those links didn't have any other plans for the evening.
zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #13 on: 07-22-2020 05:38 »

I watched The Attack Of The Giant Leeches recently. Itís available for free on archive.org here.

Itís serviceable as entertainment, but far from being a classic. It plays very much like formulaic exercise in the genre, more focussed on selling tickets than any invention or attempt at artistry. In a way, that makes it interesting, providing a deeper sense of the zeitgeist of the time.

Another recent watch was the 1950s version of The Fly. That was far better. Two scenes, both involving otherworldly creatures wailing, were genuinely unnerving. Vincent Price was fantastic, and it was fun to see the aspects of his character and voice that Maurice Lamarche used in his voice work. It was also was set in my home country, which was a bonus (though not filmed here, judging by the state of the garden in what was supposed to be spring).
zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #14 on: 07-26-2020 03:54 »
« Last Edit on: 07-26-2020 16:21 »

When Planets Collide When Worlds Collide (1951) is exciting, dramatic, relatively scientifically accurate (slowing down as well as speeding up!), and presents plausible human reactions. It's the most egregious of any 1950s sci fi movie I've seen so far in terms of its cultural awareness. I think it would do well in a remake, if its flaws were corrected.

Edit: name
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #15 on: 07-26-2020 11:08 »

Waaaay back in grade school I read the sci-fi novel "When Worlds Collide", and recall a description of a green sky. Related?

* * Tachy highlights the title/year and right-clicks to search with duckduckgo * *

Oh, perhaps it was released with slightly different titles in different regions. IMDB lists When Worlds Collide "As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home".

I do remember it being a good read for a geeky, science-minded kid.

zappdingbat

Bending Unit
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« Reply #16 on: 07-26-2020 16:24 »

You are indeed correct, it was 'When Worlds Collide', which is based on a book with the same name:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Worlds_Collide
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #17 on: 07-26-2020 22:38 »

Oh, cool. Wasn't dissin'; just curious smile

I had some analog of adhd as a kid, sketching imaginary planetary star bases in the margins of my notebooks in school, and sci-fi and daydreaming was about all that helped me cope. Pulp sc-fi anthologies (all I could afford) introduced me to some of the '50s giants. Early Heinlein, Silverberg, etc.

And I'm trying to recall when I read When Worlds Collide. 8th or 9th grade, perhaps. I was born lacking much of a visual imagination, but deeply immersive sci-fi takes me closest to 'seeing' what I'm reading.

David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #18 on: 07-26-2020 23:31 »

I had some analog of adhd as a kid, sketching imaginary planetary star bases in the margins of my notebooks in school, and sci-fi and daydreaming was about all that helped me cope.

Wait, didn't everyone do that?  confused
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #19 on: 07-27-2020 03:08 »

Only PEELers wink

For the most part, the Old School sci-fi authors' writing was just too, idk, 'formal' to me and I never got into Doc ee Smith and others...with some very notable exceptions, such as Asimov, Norton, and Kieth Laumer. Laumer wrote great tongue-in-cheek, ikd, I guess you'd call them police procedurals, but set in a future galaxy-spanning diplomatic corp. I was, and am, more into stories closer to the styles of the "Killer 'Bs'", Ben Bova, David Brin, Greg Bear, Steven Baxter, and Vernor Vinge (I know, I know, but he's in their 'B' club), but don't have anything close to a favorite author.

David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #20 on: 07-27-2020 04:57 »

I didn't actually read a lot of science fiction as a kid,* unless comic books count.**  I did watch a lot of sci-fi movies, and an awful lot of sci-fi shows on television.

* To be honest, I still haven't read a lot.  I mean, I've read some, but looking back, it's really not that much, at least not actual novels.  I have read a lot of short stories, though.

** They totally do, by the way.
Farnsworth38

Professor
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« Reply #21 on: 07-28-2020 00:28 »

I read a couple of Doc Smith novels. The language, technology and science were a bit dated, but they were still entertaining. The protagonist having to manufacture a vacuum tube from scratch to repair the ship was a plot point that appealed to me, given my interest in electronics. The female lead came over as a swooning damsel in distress at times, so that dated it too: Ripley she wasn't, unfortunately.

Asimov, Gordon R. Dickson (Dorsai), Harry Harrison (The Stainless Steel Rat; To The Stars trilogy), are some of my favourites, but Larry Niven is still number one in my book. It's a bit after the golden age, but Ringworld is a classic.
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #22 on: 07-28-2020 11:33 »

I've never read Harrison, though of course I've heard of The Stainless Steel Rat. Interesting that you mention Niven. I completely detest his collaborator, Pournelle, but I've been thoroughly entertained by novels they've written together. Couldn't even guess at the number of Dickson's books that I have. <looks> Eighteen smile

Farnsworth38

Professor
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« Reply #23 on: 07-28-2020 23:58 »

I usually avoid delving too deeply into an author's politics, beliefs, etc., just incase. Don't meet your heroes, and all that. That said, there are some that I actively avoid. I was given a copy of Battlefield Earth as a gift by someone who was unaware of L. Ron H.'s association with a certain movement, and read some of it out of curiosity. Honestly, I've read Futurama fan fiction that was better, and didn't get anywhere near to finishing it.

Harrison is often associated with humour due to The Rat, but he also did serious stuff. The To the Stars trilogy was clearly influenced by 1984, and the second book includes a novel solution to inhabiting a planet with extremely variable -- but predictable -- seasons.
Tachyon

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #24 on: 07-29-2020 14:05 »

idk anything about Pournelle's politics...I just read some of his columns back in the early personal computing days and immediately saw that he was a pompous ass. And I did read one of his solo novels back in the day but don't think I made it very far in.

The first sci-fi book I ever checked out of a public library was by Lester Del Ray, and apparently the first book in a series...who knew? smile "Step to the Stars", from '54 I think I just read.. All I recall of it was that it went into plausible scientific detail describing the construction of a station in Earth orbit. I was 12 and It was also the first book I ever checked out of the Adult section of the Bangor Public Library, as I'd previously been relegated to the kid's section.

The first sci-fi book I ever bought was in third grade, and it was a "sexed-up" cover and title of Andre Norton's "Star Man's Son", becoming "Daybreak: 2250AD" (both titles from the memory of a 134-year-old geezer).

David A

Space Pope
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« Reply #25 on: 07-29-2020 20:18 »

Andre Norton also wrote Quag Keep, which has the distinction of being the first Dungeons & Dragons novel ever published (not that I've ever read it, mind you).
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