Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sci-Fi On Film And The World Of 1953

From the relatively quiet year of 1952 in terms of science fiction movies, we now enter the year 1953, and what a year it was for sci-fi on film! A wonderful collection of sci-fi films were produced, many of which have become classics. Certainly such films still served as metaphors for the American fear of Communist invasion and infiltration, with the recurring theme of the threat of take-over by seemingly benign beings possessing a hidden hostile agenda. Such films that will be featured in this blog over the coming weeks will include;

Invaders From Mars: An almost dream-like stylized story told from the point of view of a young boy whose warnings about a Martian flying saucer and a menacing Martian taking possession of people in order to do its bidding were ignored by adults.

The War of the Worlds: Film version of the H. G. Wells' 1898 story. The story involves global alien invasion with a focus on the alien devastation of 1950s Los Angeles.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms: This film is based on a Ray Bradbury short story. The story involves a subterranean monster (a Rhedosaurus) being thawed out in the Arctic after atomic testing. New York City is in peril from the rampaging creature as it tries to make its way to its ancestral breeding grounds. Forerunner to Godzilla in 1954.

Magnetic Monster: An isotope absorbs the energy around it and doubles in size every 11 hours, threatening to upset the earth in its orbit.

Phantom from Space: an invisible and largely misunderstood alien crashes on Earth by mistake.

It Came from Outer Space: One-eyed aliens crash-land in the desert and create body-doubles of the townspeople in order to get their ship repaired.

Project Moon Base: Sabotage leads to a lunar orbital mission having to land on the moon instead.

Catwomen of the Moon: A lunar mission stumbles across a hidden civilization of moon women who despite their seemingly cordial welcoming of the humans are intent upon stealing the human visitors’ rocket in order to get to earth.

Donovan's Brain: A doctor decides to save the brain of a dying millionaire after he was pulled from an aircraft crash. However, the brain grows in power and telepathically takes over people with evil intent.

Four Sided Triangle: A lonely scientist duplicates the woman he loves who happens to love another!

And there’s more………

1953-Main Events 

Cold War /Military

  • President Harry S. Truman announces the United States has developed a hydrogen bomb.
  • The CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel meets to discuss the UFO phenomenon.
  • The United States conducts its only nuclear artillery test.
  • The Korean War ends with the signing of an armistice agreement. The north remains totalitarian and communist, while the south remains Western oriented and capitalist.
  • Soviet Union announces it has a hydrogen bomb.
  • The CIA helps to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, and retain Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the throne.
  • The United Nations rejects acceptance of China as a member.
  • The Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Republic of Korea is concluded in Washington D.C.
  • U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approves the top secret document of the United States National Security Council that states that the United States' arsenal of nuclear weapons must be maintained and expanded to counter the communist threat.
  • U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his Atoms for Peace address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Apart from Panther, Sabre, Thunderjet & MiG jets, what other types of aerial craft might have been  flying through our planet's skies? Perhaps this video clip from 1953 might answer this question.....


  • Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the 34th President of the USA.
  • Tito is chosen President of Yugoslavia.
  • Joseph Stalin suffers a stroke and dies on March 5.
  • Nikita Khrushchev is selected First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.
  • Nikita Khrushchev becomes head of the Soviet Central Committee.


Science & Technology

  • James D. Watson and Francis Crick of the University of Cambridge announce their discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule.
  • Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine.
  • "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid", is published. It describes the double helix structure of DNA.
  • The UNIVAC 1103 is the first commercial computer to use random access memory.
  • The first colour television sets go on sale for about $1,175 US.

Record Breakers

  • Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier in an F-86 Sabrejet at an average speed of 652.337 miles-per-hour.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
  • The Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, piloted by Scott Crossfield, becomes the first manned aircraft to reach Mach 2.

Popular & Cultural

  • The Crucible, a drama by Arthur Miller, opens on Broadway. Parallels with the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s
  • The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom takes place at Westminster Abbey.

Coca Cola Ad From 1953

Social / Economic

  • Trade unions gained strength with greater numbers of workers belonging to unions.
  • Wage and price controls ended.
  • Unemployment was at 2.9%.
  • Standards of living continued to grow seemingly without limits.
  • The yearly Inflation Rate in the US was  0.82%
  • A new house could set you back at $9.550.00, while a new car could cost you $1,650.00. which you could run on 20 cents per gallon of petrol.
  • You could expect to earn on average $4,000.00 per year. 

And so it is now time for us to embark on our journey through this wonderful year’s worth of fabulous sci-fi films…….

©Chris Christopoulos 2013

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