Rocketship X-M [1950]

Before the mid-1950s, science fiction was mostly confined to kid-stuff serials such as Buck Rogers; the things they portrayed were considered pure fantasy, pie in the sky. By 1950, however, things had changed. World War II had brought the German V-2 rocket (the template for many a '50s sci-fi rocket ship), television, and of course, the bomb. Sabrejets and MiGs were doing battle over Korea, and science fiction had become fact. Rocketship X-M (the X-M standing for Expedition: Moon), though primitive and cheap, has a place in film history as being the movie that initiated the '50s science fiction boom. A crew of four men and one woman embark for the moon, but when all are knocked unconscious, the rocket goes into a drift and they wind up on Mars instead. On the pinkish Mars, they encounter a race of extremely ticked-off cavemen who don't want them there and kill off three of their number. Certainly the effects are quaint (the astronauts and ground control communicate via surplus WWII radio equipment), the story a little ridiculous, and the acting stiff--but this was the first serious science fiction movie and was the inspiration for countless films that followed. --Jerry Renshaw

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