The 1960s was an important decade in the development of the science fiction genre. Several major releases helped redefine sci-fi for a generation of movie-goers.ž
10 Best Movies of the Sixties Sci-fi
Watch Village Of The Damned 1960
The inhabitants of the British village of Midwich suddenly fall unconscious, as does anyone entering the village. The military establishes a cordon around Midwich and sends in a man wearing a gas mask, but he, too, falls unconscious and is pulled back with rope. The man awakens and reports experiencing a cold sensation just before passing out. The pilot of a military reconnaissance plane is contacted and asked to investigate. When he flies below 5,000 feet, he loses consciousness and the plane crashes. A five-mile exclusion zone around the village is established for all aircraft. After approximately four hours, the villagers regain consciousness, and all are apparently unaffected.
Two months later, all women and girls of child-bearing age in the affected area are discovered to be pregnant, sparking many accusations of both infidelity and extramarital sex. The accusations fade as the extraordinary nature of the pregnancies is discovered, with seven-month fetuses appearing after only five months. All the women give birth on the same day. Their children have an unusual appearance, including “arresting” eyes, odd scalp hair construction and colour (platinum blonde), and unusually narrow fingernails. As the children grow and develop at a rapid rate, it becomes clear they also have a powerful telepathic bond with one another. They can communicate with each other over great distances, and as one learns something, so do the others.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars 1964
Commander Christopher “Kit” Draper, USN and Colonel Dan McReady, USAF reach the Red Planet in their spaceship, Mars Gravity Probe 1. They are forced to use up their remaining fuel in order to avoid an imminent collision with a large orbiting meteoroid; they descend in their one-man lifeboat pods, becoming the first humans on Mars.
Draper eventually finds a rock face cave for shelter. He figures out how to obtain the rest of what he needs to survive: he burns some coal-like rocks for warmth and discovers that heating them also releases oxygen. This allows him to refill his air tanks with a hand pump and to move around in the thin Martian atmosphere. On one of his excursions, he finds McReady’s crashed pod and dead body.
He also finds their monkey Mona alive. Later, he notices that Mona keeps disappearing and is uninterested in their dwindling supply of food and water. He gives her a salty cracker, but no water. When Mona gets thirsty, he lets her out and follows her to a cave where he finds a pool of water in which edible plant “sausages” grow.
As the days grow into months, Draper slowly begins to crack from the prolonged isolation, at one point imagining an alive, but unspeaking, McReady appearing in his cave. He also watches helplessly as his mothership, an inaccessible “supermarket”, periodically orbits overhead; without fuel, the spaceship cannot respond to his radioed order to land.
While walking about, Draper comes upon a dark rock slab standing almost upright. Curious, he digs in the ground around it, exposing a skeletal hand and arm wearing a black bracelet. He uncovers the rest of the humanoid skeleton and determines that the alien was murdered; the front of the skull shows a hole, and the back shows heavy charring. To hide his presence on Mars, Draper signals his low-orbiting mothership to self-destruct on its next overhead pass.
The First Men in the Moon 1964
In 1964, the United Nations has launched a rocket flight to the Moon. A multi-national group of astronauts in the UN spacecraft land, believing themselves to be the first lunar explorers. However, they discover a Union Jack flag on the surface and a note mentioning Katherine Callender, which claims the Moon for Queen Victoria.
Attempting to trace Callender in the records office in Dymchurch in Kent, south-east England, the UN authorities discover that she has died, but that her husband Arnold Bedford is still living in a nursing home known as “The Limes”. The home’s staff do not let him watch television reports of the Moon expedition because, according to the matron, it “excites him”. Bedford’s repeated lunar claims are dismissed as senile delusion. The UN representatives question him about the Moon, and he tells them his story, which is then shown in flashback.
In 1899, Arnold Bedford lives in a romantic spot, Cherry Cottage, next to a canal lock in Dymchurch. His fiancée, Katherine Callender, known as Kate, arrives by car (driving herself) visiting the house for the first time. It is implied that Bedford is in financial difficulties as he has a letter for rent arrears. They meet a nearby neighbour, inventor Joseph Cavor, who wants to buy the cottage, in case his experiments damage the cottage. Kate agrees this on Bedfords behalf. Bedford starts spending much time at Cavor’s house, where he has a large laboratory. There he has invented Cavorite, a substance that will let anything it is applied to or made of deflect the force of gravity. He plans to use it to travel to the Moon. Bedford gets deeds signed up in Kath’s name selling the cottage to Cavor in exchange for £5000…. it must be remembered that he is selling something he does not own!
The Last Man on Earth 1964
Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) lives in a world where everyone else has been infected by a plague that has turned them into undead, vampiric creatures that cannot stand sunlight, fear mirrors, and are repelled by garlic. They would kill Morgan if they could, but they are weak and unintelligent. Every day Morgan carries out the same routine: he wakes up, marks another day on the calendar, gathers his weapons, and then goes hunting for vampires, killing as many as he can and then burning the bodies to prevent them from coming back. At night, he locks himself inside his house.
A flashback sequence explains that, three years earlier, Morgan’s wife Virginia and daughter Kathy had succumbed to the plague before it was widely known by the public that the dead would return to life. Instead of taking his wife to the same public burn pit used to dispose of his daughter’s corpse, Morgan buried her without the knowledge of the authorities. When his wife returned to his home and attacked him, Morgan became aware of the need to kill the plague victims with a wooden stake. Morgan hypothesizes that he is immune to the bacteria from a bite by an infected vampire bat when he was stationed in Panama, which may have introduced a diluted form of the plague into his blood.
Fahrenheit 451. 1966
n the future, a totalitarian government employs a force known as Firemen to seek out and destroy all literature. They have the power to search anyone, anywhere, at any time, and burn any books they find. One of the firemen, Guy Montag, meets one of his neighbours, Clarisse, a young schoolteacher who may be fired due to her unorthodox views. The two have a discussion about his job, where she asks whether he ever reads the books he burns. Curious, he begins to hide books in his house and read them, starting with Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. This leads to conflict with his wife, Linda, who is more concerned with being popular enough to be a member of The Family, an interactive television programme that refers to its viewers as “cousins”.
At the house of an illegal book collector, the fire captain talks with Montag at length about how books make people unhappy and make them want to think that they are better than others, which is considered anti-social. The book collector, an old woman who was seen with Clarisse a few times during Montag’s rides to and from work, refuses to leave her house, opting instead to burn herself and the house, so she can die with her books.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
The new, state of the art nuclear submarine, Seaview, is on diving trials in the Arctic Ocean. Seaview is designed and built by scientist and engineering genius Admiral Harriman Nelson (USN-Ret) (Walter Pidgeon). Captain Lee Crane (Robert Sterling) is the submarine’s Commanding Officer. One of the on-board observers is Dr. Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine), studying crew-related stress. The mission includes being out of radio contact for 96 hours while under the Arctic ice cap, but the ice begins to crack and melt, with boulder-size pieces crashing into the ocean around the submerged submarine; surfacing, they find the sky is on fire. After rescuing scientist Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara) and his dog at Ice Floe Delta, Seaview receives radio contact from Mission Director Inspector Bergan at the Bureau of Marine Exploration. He says that a meteor shower has pierced the Van Allen radiation belt, causing it to catch on fire, resulting in a world-threatening increase in heat all across the Earth. Nelson’s on-board friend and scientist, retired Commodore Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre), concurs, saying that it is certainly possible. Bergan also tells Nelson that the President wants him at a UN Emergency Scientific Meeting as soon as possible.
Mysterious Island 1961
In 1865, during the American Civil War, a massive storm sweeps through Libby Military Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Union soldiers Cyrus Harding, Herbert Brown and Neb, along with Union war correspondent Gideon Spillet plan an escape via a gas balloon tethered next to the compound. After escaping their cell, they take one of the Confederate guards named Pencroft aboard the balloon after he explains that he knows how to pilot the airship.
The balloon carries them westwards across the United States, and over the Pacific Ocean. A storm arises, tearing open the balloon and forcing the men to land near the shore of an unknown island. The following morning the men explore the strange island. They discover that the island has lush tropical jungles, harsh plains, and many volcanoes which frequently erupt.
A Space Odyssey 1968
In the prehistoric African veldt, a tribe of hominids are driven away from their water hole by a rival tribe. Later, they awaken to find an alien monolith has appeared before them. Influenced by the monolith, they discover how to use a bone as a weapon and, after their first hunt, return to drive their rivals away with the newly discovered tool.
Millions of years later, Dr. Heywood Floyd, Chairman of the United States National Council of Astronautics, travels to Clavius Base, a US lunar outpost. During a stopover at Space Station 5, he meets Russian scientists who are concerned that Clavius seems to be incommunicado. Floyd refuses to discuss rumours of an epidemic at the base. Continuing his journey to Clavius, Floyd addresses a meeting of personnel to whom he stresses the need for secrecy with respect to their newest discovery. Floyd’s mission is to investigate a recently found artefact buried four million years ago near the crater Tycho. Floyd and others ride in a Moonbus to the artefact, a monolith identical to the one encountered by the ape-men. As they examine the monolith, it is struck by sunlight, upon which it emits a high-powered radio signal.
The Time Machine 1960
On January 5, 1900, four friends arrive for a dinner at the London home of their inventor friend George, but he is absent. He arrives suddenly, bedraggled and exhausted, and tells what has happened to him.
At their earlier dinner on New Year’s Eve, George says that time is “the fourth dimension”. He shows David Filby, Dr. Philip Hillyer, Anthony Bridewell, and Walter Kemp a small model time machine and has one of them press a tiny lever on the model. The device disappears, but his friends are skeptical.
George has a full-size time machine which he uses to travel ahead to September 13, 1917. He meets Filby’s son, James, who tells him of Filby’s death in a war. He then stops on June 19, 1940, during the Blitz, finding himself in the midst of “a new war”. George resumes his journey and stops on August 18, 1966. People hurry into a fallout shelter amid the blare of air raid sirens. An elderly James Filby urges George to take cover. Moments later, a nuclear satellite explodes, causing a volcanic eruption. George narrowly makes it back to his machine ahead of the approaching lava, which rises, cools, and hardens, trapping him inside, as he travels far into the future. Eventually the lava wears away, revealing a lush, unspoiled landscape.
and number one, a big hit
Planet of the Apes
Astronauts Taylor, Landon and Dodge are in deep hibernation when their spaceship crashes into a lake on an unknown planet after a light-speed voyage. They discover their fourth crew mate, Stewart, dead due to a malfunction. The three abandon their ship when it starts sinking; Taylor remains on board long enough to see that the date is November 25, 3978, two thousand and six years after their departure in 1972.
The astronauts set off through a desolate wasteland and discover an oasis in the desert, ignoring eerie scarecrow-like figures around the edge. Their clothes are stolen while they take a swim. The astronauts pursue the thieves, finding their clothes torn to shreds and their supplies pillaged as the perpetrators, a group of mute primitive humans, raid a cornfield. Taylor is shot in the throat and captured by armed gorillas, along with the primitive humans. Dodge is killed and Landon rendered unconscious in the chaos. Taylor is taken to Ape City where he is saved after a blood transfusion administered by two chimpanzees: animal psychologist Zira and surgeon Galen. However, Taylor’s throat injury renders him temporarily unable to speak.
Taylor is placed with one of the captive primitive humans, whom he later names Nova. He observes the enhanced society of talking apes and in a strict caste system: the gorillas serving as military forces and labourers; the orangutans overseeing the affairs of government and religion; and intellectual chimpanzees being mostly scientists and doctors. While their society is a theocracy similar to the beginnings of the human Industrial Era, the apes consider the primitive humans as vermin. Humans are hunted, either killed outright, enslaved, or used in scientific experiments. Taylor convinces Zira of his intelligence as she and her fiancé Cornelius, an archaeologist, take an interest in him. Dr. Zaius, their orangutan superior, learns of this and arranges for Taylor to be castrated. Taylor escapes and finds Dodge’s stuffed corpse on display in a museum. When Taylor is recaptured, he suddenly regains his speaking abilities and much to the amazement of the onlookers, he shouts: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn
Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
- Charlton Heston
- Roddy McDowall
- Maurice Evans
- Kim Hunter
- James Whitmore
- James Daly
- Linda Harrison.