The New York Times, using next Friday”s release of the 1950s SciFi film parody/homage Alien Tresspass, looks at the science fiction films of the 1950s. Salient quotage:
But the genius of the “Body Snatchers” metaphor (the movie is based on a story by Jack Finney) is that it combines the ’50s anxiety about the end of humankind with the era’s equally persistent fears about the toxic effects of mass movements: the Nazism and Fascism that had so recently come close to blowing up the world, the Soviet-style Communism that looked, from these shores, intent on finishing the job. There’s a warning here too about the creeping pressure to conform in our own prosperous middle-class society.
These are useful cautions because, as all these movies show, belief in authority of one kind or another — including the authority of science — was considerably stronger in that age than in the present day, when few leaders are trusted, and the word “expert” is almost invariably preceded by “so-called.” It’s this greater credulity that makes people in ’50s science-fiction films seem so far from us now — familiar but distant, unreachable, like the selves we were as children.