Wednesday, 22 September 2010

B-Movies from the 1950s...

- The fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, along with less expressible qualms about the effects of radioactive fallout from America's own atomic tests, energised many of the era's genre films. Science fiction, horror, and various hybrids of the two were now of central economic importance to the low-budget end of the business. Most down-market films of the type, like many of those produced by William Alland at Universal, provided little more than simple diversion. But they were genres whose fantastic nature could also be used as cover for mordant cultural observations often difficult to make in mainstream movies.
- Two well finance films of 1951, 'The Thing from Another World' and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still', are often mentioned as vanguard examples. The Thing proved that some money could be made by 'science fiction' that preyed on current fears symbolised crudely by any preposterous moster. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) treats conformist pressures and the evil of banality in haunting allegorical fashion. Even major genre mills at times came out with challenging films. Produced on a "triffling budget" by Katzman, The Man who Turned to Stone (1957), 'uses the physical transfer of the life force from one class to another as a metaphor for economic exploitation'. Among the most disturbing was The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), 'a King Kong for the atomic age,' it is both a monster movie that happens to depict the horrific effects of radiation exposure and 'a ferocious cold-war fable that spins Korea, the army's obsessive secrecy, and America's post war growth into one fantastic whole.'

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