8:00 PM, 12th November, 2005
Daffy Duck is Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig is his Space Cadet, and Marvin the Martian plays himself in a tale of intergalactic stupidity.
8:10 PM, 12th November, 2005
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water-
'War of the Worlds' has become one of, if not the, most enduring science fiction stories of all time. It was a book that became a radio serial that also became a movie and a musical and a TV show and now another movie (and plenty more not worth mentioning). The 1953 movie is pretty much the grand-daddy of all modern effects blockbusters - less than one third of it's $2 million budget was spent on live action scenes with the rest going on special effects, more than any film before it. This version of War of the Worlds promises to be the same- It's not out yet and I haven't seen it, but the trailers promise mass destruction on a global scale and at a budget that only Steven Spielberg can command!
10:00 PM, 12th November, 2005
Why are '50s American sci-fi films so bad? Writers start with good ideas, only to mangle them with embarrassing dialogue, inept plotting and jaw-dropping continuity lapses. I doubt you'll see a single other film from that decade as bad as the sci-fi films routinely managed to be. Why? Two reasons: firstly, with a couple of doubtful exceptions, they were all B-films; no studio wasted A-list talent or money on this genre. But more importantly, the clumsily made '50s B-films in other genres, no doubt equally common, are unwatched today: we forget they existed. We don't forget '50s sci-fi, which, even when clumsy, is still compelling. Possibly it was the still-fresh fear of the atom bomb; possibly cold war paranoia- at least, these are the standard explanations, and they work here.
An astronomer and his wife, seeing a "meteor" crash in the desert, are the only ones to realise it's an alien craft. Mysterious things start happening. What do the aliens want? Are they to be trusted? By the way, I don't believe any amount of '50s sociology will fully explain the frisson we get from films like this: it doesn't explain why the desert, aliens or no aliens, looks so eerie.