First of the Fifties

destinationmoon Movie producer George Pal with Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis
Movie producer George Pal with Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis

 

Destination Moon produced by George Pal, is widely considered the first science fiction film to attempt a high level of accurate technical detail. Filmed in Technicolor, based on a book by Robert Heinlein, adapted for the screen by Alford Van Ronkel and James O’Hanlon, the film was released on June 27, 1950 in New York and on August 1, 1950 all over the United States. Background scenery and outer space scenes were created by Chesley Bonestell. Actually, the movie Rocketship X-M was released 25 days before Destination Moon. Because of the publicity buzz surrounding Destination Moon, with its budget of half a million dollars, Lippert Pictures saw an opportunity and rushed their relatively low budget ($94,000) Rocketship X-M into production, completing the entire film in only 18 days. These two movies were the start of something big. 

I enjoyed this review of the film by Scott Ashlin on his web site 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting:

“This is another one of those big, important movies that dorks like me are always going on about at the slightest excuse. Destination Moon’s importance stems from its being the first of the vast numbers of science fiction films that were produced during the 1950’s. Those were years of unprecedented visibility for science and technology, and the time was surely ripe for an equally unprecedented spike in the popularity of science fiction, provided the writers and filmmakers could find the right approach to tap into the zeitgeist.”

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And here is Scott Ashlin’s review of Rocketship X-M.

 

We Chose to Put a Man on the Moon

Gary Westfahl has written an intriguing essay on the science fiction of J. G. Ballard. Here are a couple of excerpts to whet your appetite:

“The question that should be haunting science fiction is: why did Ballard get it right, while all of the other science fiction writers were getting it wrong? Why did their apparently logical and well-grounded predictions about ongoing advances further and further into space prove to be so flawed?”

“Yes, I know, you undoubtedly think of Ballard as one of those “New Wave” writers who abhorred science and focused all their energies on literary craftsmanship and avant-garde experimentation—and there are works in the Ballard oeuvre that would match that stereotypical perception. But it is important to recall that Ballard spent years at medical school studying to become a psychiatrist, which means that he received a better and more thorough scientificeducation than the vast majority of science fiction writers.”

Read entire essay