Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

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Why? It’s my favourite film. I have adored James Dean and Natalie Wood since I first saw this aged 11. I’ve been to the LA locations and stepped around the High School motto. I’ve read everything there is on the production and I have always admired the cinema of Nicholas Ray and the screenplays of Stewart Stern. This moves me like few films could. It is staggering to watch in so many ways. It is a film about feeling. And because it’s my 1,000th post on Mondo Movies. Scuse me while I kiss the sky. MM#1000

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Stranger from Venus (1954)

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An offbeat British sci-fi starring Patricia Neal, who had of course helped save the world in a previous outing, The Day The World Stood Still. Helmut Dantine arrives in rural England and we don’t see his face for the longest time – it’s all over the shoulder stuff – and his essential German-ness is of course responsible for everyone feeling the fear: like it or not the deliberate style of speaking is a national trait that alienates everyone else, pun intended. Produced and directed by Burt Balaban, most of it takes place in a Tudor public house – Neal is the proprietor’s daughter. Her government official fiance suspects all is not right with this mysterious intruder who has healed her injuries after their meet-cute at the car crash caused by the stranger’s flying saucer landing lights (that’s not a euphemism). He calls the war office.The journalist following the story getsĀ  the stranger to translate into multiple European languages to prove they’ve been listening to our radio broadcasts (I must try that sometime). Police cordon off the area and the stranger gets antsy when his communications disc is stolen, preventing him calling his colleagues. He’s the advance party for a major landing warning Earthlings to stop developing dangerous technologies (too late, I fear) because detonating H-bombs means the gravitational orbit of the entire solar system would be adversely affected. Whitehall want Venusian technology and their shortsighted ploy destroys the peace mission … The story by Desmond Leslie advocates the safe deployment of nuclear weapons, a pretty radical message for the time which predated the founding of CND by a few years.

It Came From Outer Space (1953)

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One of the best 50s sci fis and directed by Jack Arnold, who was responsible for another, The Incredible Shrinking Man, a brilliant existentialist work. He was also responsible for some of the original creature features – The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature and another sci fi, The Space Children. This was adapted from a story by Ray Bradbury and has both his sense of wonder and his sense of optimism. With Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush – and their doubles!

Earth Versus the Flying Saucers (1956)

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Two hours into their honeymoon, rocket scientist Hugh Marlowe (one of my favourite leading men) and wife Joan Taylor, experience a flying saucer. That’s not a euphemism. The earth is under attack from mistranslated aliens in one of the era’s best sci fis, cowritten by blacklistee Bernard Gordon, George Worthing Yates and Curt Siodmak from the book Flying Saucers from Outer Space by Major Donald E. Keyhoe (retired from the Marine Corps) and directed by Fred F. Sears. Good effects – particularly at the conclusion and a great sense of urgency! – so it’s a pity it was shot in monochrome.