Pete Young (peteyoung) wrote,
Pete Young

1950s SF film

The genre context that surrounds Flight to Mars illustrates well how movies often overlapped in both their content and visual design, often borrowing and sometimes even stealing from each other a host of ideas, props and production values. This was also the first colour motion picture about a journey to Mars, and although the opening credits don't say as much it's sometimes considered a remake – or at least a direct descendant – of the 1924 Russian film Aelita: The Queen of Mars, and for good reason. There are some parallels, especially the presence of a Martian woman named Alita who also happens to be the daughter of the untrustworthy Martian president, and there's also the nature of the Martians' problem of their dying planet. Flight to Mars also uses plenty of material from contemporary SF films: the interior of the rocket, the sound effects and the concepts behind space flight were all the same as those used in Rocketship X-M, and the surface suits worn by the Martians were also used in George Pal's epic Destination Moon, filmed the previous year. For the Martian sets, production designer Ted Haworth drew inspiration from the austere style of fellow designer William Cameron Menzies (who later directed Invaders from Mars in 1953). With all these allusions and visual associations with other movies Flight to Mars ends up being swamped beneath its influences, somehow resembling a patchwork film with little visual identity of its own. The secrecy and betrayal of Flight to Mars's plot also resurfaced two years later by Cat-Women of the Moon. It was nearly followed by a sequel, Voyage to Venus, but this was never given the green light. It's not a bad film at all – a little dull, maybe – but it has some interesting interplay between the male and female sides of the cast. Nor is it memorable for actually contributing anything unique to the genre, apart from the sight of actress Marguerite Chapman's endless legs.
Tags: 1950s sf film, science fiction

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