With Atomic Submarine, the decade of 1950s sci-fi came to an end. With it, comes the close of this first phase of my "research," begun almost two years ago. 50s sci-fi was clearly not all the same. It has been interesting to see how sci-fi movies had changed (for better or worse) over the decade. The early almost-innocent space opera genre, such as Captain Video and Radar Men from the Moon, faded away. A later fascination with ugly monsters, death and destruction increased.
Every era has its worries. The 1930s had The Depression. The 40s had Hitler. The 50s had several new cultural fixations. They found expression in film. The first fixation was anxiety over atomic Armageddon. A second was fear of Communist invasion. A third was fascination with the dawn of the space age. These three themes drove the majority (though not all) of 50s sci-fi movie plots.
Rocketship XM was a dramatic first example of atomic angst expressed in a sci-fi movie. The invasion theme got a later start but more than made up for lost time. Destination Moon was the first installment of serious imagining of what manned space travel might be like. With the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and America's Explorer 1 in 1958, the Space Age became a reality. Perhaps it is no coincidence that those two years saw the most sci-fi films released.
The 60s would be a different era with different concerns. Yet, change didn't come overnight. Early 60s sci-fi showed a strong affinity for the style and mood of the 50s. After all, there was still the threat of communist invasion to fret over. The threat of nuclear destruction would grow even more more frightening in the early 60s. But, on a brighter note, the 60s was the decade of the Space Race, not just dreams of space. Sci-fi would push the dream far beyond earth orbit.
Now begins phase 2 of my studies: sci-fi movies of the early 60s.