Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain: Recontextualizing Cultural Anxiety

Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain: Recontextualizing Cultural Anxiety

by Matthew Jones


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Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain: Recontextualizing Cultural Anxiety by Matthew Jones

For the last sixty years discussion of 1950s science fiction cinema has been dominated by claims that the genre reflected US paranoia about Soviet brainwashing and the nuclear bomb. However, classic films, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and It Came from Outer Space (1953), and less familiar productions, such as It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), were regularly exported to countries across the world. The histories of their encounters with foreign audiences have not yet been told. Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain begins this task by recounting the story of 1950s British cinema-goers and the aliens and monsters they watched on the silver screen. Drawing on extensive archival research, Matthew Jones makes an exciting and important intervention by locating American science fiction films alongside their domestic counterparts in their British contexts of release and reception. He offers a radical reassessment of the genre, demonstrating for the first time that in Britain, which was a significant market for and producer of science fiction, these films gave voice to different fears than they did in America. While Americans experienced an economic boom, low immigration and the conferring of statehood on Alaska and Hawaii, Britons worried about economic uncertainty, mass immigration and the dissolution of the Empire. Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain uses these and other differences between the British and American experiences of the 1950s to tell a new history of the decade's science fiction cinema, exploring for the first time the ways in which the genre came to mean something unique to Britons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501322532
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 11/30/2017
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Matthew Jones is Associate Professor in Film Studies at De Montfort University, UK. He has published widely on mid-century cinema audiences and science fiction film and television. He is the co-editor of Time Travel in Popular Media: Essays on Film, Television, Literature and Video Games (2015).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Teacups and Flying Saucers

Section A: Communist infiltration and indoctrination

1. Soviet brainwashing, British defectors and the corruptive elsewhere
2. 'He can be a Communist here if he wants to': Living with the monster

Section B: Nuclear technology

3. The beast in the atom: Britain's nuclear nightmares
4. Atomic Albion: Britain's nuclear dreams

Section C: Race and immigration

5. It came from the colonies!: Mass immigration and the invasion narratives
6. Loving the alien: After the Notting Hill race riots

Section D: Britain at home and abroad

7. Still overpaid, still oversexed and still over here: The American invasion of Europe
8. Science fiction Britain: The nation of the future


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