120 years of sf cinema, part five: 1965-74

2015 marks the 120th anniversary of sf cinema. This is the fifth part of a year-by-year list of films I’d recommend (not always for the same reasons).

Part one (1895-1914), part two (1915-34), part three (1935-54), part four (1955-1964)

Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (Jean-Luc Godard)
Giperboloid Ingenera Garina/Engineer Garin’s Death Ray (Alexander Gintsburg)
It Happened Here (Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo)
Sins of the Fleshapoids (Mike Kuchar)
Terrore nello Spazio/Planet of the Vampires (Mario Bava)
The War Game (Peter Watkins)

Daikaiju Gamera/Gamera (Noriaka Yurasa)
Fahrenheit 451 (François Truffaut)
Gamera Tai Barugon/Gamera versus Baragon (Shigeo Tanaka)
Konex Sprna v Hotelu Ozon/The End of August at the Hotel Ozone (Jan Schmidt)
Seconds (John Frankenheimer)
Sedmi Kontinent/The Seventh Continent (Dušan Vukotić)
Tanin no kao/The Face of Another (Hiroshi Teshigahara)
Ukradena Vzducholod/The Stolen Dirigible (Karel Zeman)

The Craven Sluck
(Mike Kuchar)
Diabolik (Mario Bava)
Je t’aime, je t’aime (Alain Resnais)
King Kong No Gyakushu/King Kong Escapes (Ishirô Honda)
Privilege (Peter Watkins)
Quatermass and the Pit (Roy Ward Baker)
Week End (Jean-Luc Godard)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
Brasil Anno 2000 (Walter Lima, Jr)
Mister Freedom (William Klein)
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero)
Planet of the Apes (Franklin J. Schaffner)
Wild in the Streets (Barry Shear)

Change of Mind (Robert Stevens)
Gladiatorerne/The Peace Game (Peter Watkins)
Scream and Scream Again (Gordon Hessler)
Stereo (David Cronenberg)
Yakeen (Brij)
Zeta One (Michael Cort)

The Andromeda Strain (Robert Wise)
Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)
Na Komete/On the Comet (Karel Zeman)
THX 1138 (George Lucas)

A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)
Glen and Randa (Jim McBride)
The Hellstrom Chronicle (Walon Green and Ed Spiegel))
Ice (Robert Kramer)
Punishment Park (Peter Watkins)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (J. Lee Thompson)
Death Line (Gary Sherman)
Solyaris/Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky)

1973nuits rouges 3
The Asphyx (Peter Newbrook)
The Crazies (George Romero)
Flesh for Frankenstein (Paul Morrisey)
Una gota de sangre para morir amando/Murder in a Blue World (Eloy de la Iglesia)
It’s Alive (Larry Cohen)
Kala Dhandha/Black Mail (Vijay Anand)
Nippon Chinbotsu/Japan Sinks (Shirô Moritani)
Nuits rouges (Georges Franju)
Phase IV (Saul Bass)
La planète sauvage/Fantastic Planet (René Laloux)
The Spook Who Sat by the Door (Ivan Dixon)
Yilmayan seytan/The Deathless Devil (Yilmaz Atadeniz)

The Cars that Ate Paris (Peter Weir)
Dark Star (John Carpenter)
The Parallax View (Alan J Pakula)
Space is the Place (John Coney)
The Stepford Wives (Bryan Forbes)
Terminal Man (Mike Hodges)



120 years of sf cinema, part four: 1955-64

2015 marks the 120th anniversary of sf cinema. This is the fourth part of a year-by-year list of films I’d recommend (not always for the same reasons).

Part one (1895-1914), part two (1915-1934), part three (1935-54)

Cesta do Praveku/Journey to the Beginning of Time (Karel Zeman)
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich)
The Quatermass Xperiment (Val Guest)
Revenge of the Creature (Jack Arnold)
This Island Earth (Joseph Newman)

Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel)
Not of this Earth (Roger Corman)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (Edward D. Wood, Jr)
X the Unknown (Leslie Norman)

The Abominable Snowman (Val Guest)
Chikyu Boeignu/The Mysterians (Ishirô Honda)
The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold)
Quatermass II (Val Guest)

I Married a Monster from Outer Space (Gene Fowler, Jr)
The Revenge of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher)
Vynalez Zkazy/The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (Karel Zeman)

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (Ranald MacDougall)
Les yeux sans visage/Eyes without a Face (Georges Franju)worldfleshdevil7

Der Schweigende Stern/The Silent Star (Kurt Maetzig)
Die Tausend Augen des Dr Mabuse/The Thousand Eyes of Mr Mabuse (Fritz Lang)
Village of the Damned (Wolf Rilla)

L’Anée dernière à Marienbad/Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais)
Chelovek Amfibia/The Amphibian Man (Guennadi Kazansky and Vladimir Chebotarev)
The Damned (Joseph Losey)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Val Guest)
Mosura/Mothra (Ishirô Honda)

Gritos en la Noche/The Awful Dr Orloff (Jess Franco)
Planeta Bur/Cosmonauts on Venus (Pavel Klushantsev)
The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer)

Children of the Damned (Anton M. Leader)
Ikarie XB-1 (Jindrich Polak)
La Jetée (Chris Marker)
King Kong Tai Gojira/King Kong versus Godzilla (Ishirô Honda)
Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook)
Matango/Attack of the Mushroom People (Ishirô Honda)
The Mind Benders (Basil Dearden)
X-The Man with X-Ray Eyes (Roger Corman)


Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick)
Fail Safe (Sidney Lumet)
Seven Days in May (John Frankenheimer)

part five (1965-74)

Out of the Unknown: ‘Andover and the Android’, BBC2 29 November 1965

Kate Wilhelm
Kate Wilhelm

This is the second episode not to have survived (apart from its final credits and filmed inserts of newspaper headlines). This is particularly annoying since it is the only episode out of 49 based on a story by a woman. Kate Wilhelm’s ‘Andover and the Android’ was one of several original stories among the reprints in her The Mile-Long Spaceship (1963). When the collection was published in the UK in 1966, it was retitled Andover and the Android, presumably because the adaptation had given it recognition value. Curiously, although the story order was shuffled, ‘Andover’ did not become the lead story. (Out of this World also only had one episode based on a story by a woman, Katherine Maclean’s 1951 ‘Picture Don’t Lie’ (11 August 1962).)

Wilhelm’s story begins with Roger Andover facing a choice between the death sentence or narco-analysis, which will wipe his memory and personality. (Or something like that – it is not the clearest of opening exchanges or penal systems.) While deciding on his course of action, he recalls what brought him to this juncture. A confirmed bachelor, he was urged to marry in order to be deemed suitable for promotion to a corporate vice-presidency.

Not normal? Just because he liked an orderly life? Just because he loved his music and his books? Because he had never met a woman who could share his interests and not be cluttering his life with a lot of nonsense about changing the apartment and having a horde of messy children underfoot? Because he couldn’t abide women who had to run things, had to interfere constantly, had to manage me the same way they managed money, children, vacations, everything else he could think of? Damn it! He liked living alone. … The fact that he considered marriage slightly irregular seemed not at all odd to him, but explicable in light of the nature of women; and his own celibate life he privately concluded was a result of the happy circumstances that had seen fit to place him higher on the scale of rationality than his fellow man, to give him a keener insight concerning the machinations of the female mind. (116)

Andover seems to fall halfway between a queer stereotype – he is gourmand; he visits Roman ruins, Parisian galleries, German cathedrals, Venetian concerts – and the kind of sophisticated, consumerist playboy figure Hugh Heffner introduced into fifties culture (played so well by Rock Hudson), without quite being either. So as the pressure mounts, he uses blackmail to have a 130439‘perfect wife’ made for him, even though it is illegal to own personal androids. Lydia is a groundbreaking prototype, utterly convincing. And of course – yet to his complete surprise – he grows accustomed to her ways. He falls in love with her.

When Lydia begins to malfunction, the executive Andover has been blackmailing sees his chance: instead of repairing her, he destroys her, embezzles half a million dollars and flees the country. That is when the police become suspicious about the disappearance of Andover’s wife…

Like the last episode’s source story, ‘Andover and the Android’ is rather slender for an hour-long drama. Adapter Bruce Stewart – who would also adapt Colin Kapp’s 1962 ‘Lambda 1’ (20 October 1966) and write 19 of the 26 episodes of the underrated children’s sf series Timeslip (1970-71) – opted to expand the story by transforming it into a comedy. While a number of earlier episodes, regardless of where they are set, languish somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, with English actors trying on often infelicitous American accents, ‘Andover’ is firmly relocated from a rather vague future US to the England of West End farces (and of an sf film such as The Perfect Woman (Knowles 1949)). The comic action described by Mark Ward in quite painstaking detail sounds laboriously unfunny, but apparently audiences responded well to it.

OOTU Andover Original listingAndover’s scheme is altered slightly – he needs a wife so as to inherit a fortune, but he intends all along to dispose of her once he is wealthy.

And the conclusion is altered significantly. Rather than Andover declaring that he murdered his wife (presumably so he will be executed without it being revealed that he fell in love with a machine), the adaptation’s protagonist is himself mistaken for a faulty android and destroyed, while the faulty Lydia lives on. This blackly comic conclusion – which seems at odds tonally with the earlier farce – was also apparently well-received, according to audience surveys and newspaper reviews. Indeed, the episode was selected for a repeat (under its own title, rather than the series’) a month later as part of BBC1’s A Taste of Two season intended to promote the junior channel.

OOTU Andover 1The episode was directed by Alan Cooke, who would also direct Frederik Pohl’s ‘Tunnel Under the World’ (1 December 1966). He had directed DH Lawrence’s own stage adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (the cast included Tom Criddle, who plays Andover and also appears in the series’  adaptation of Mordecai Roshwald’s 1959 Level 7 (27 October 1966), scripted by JB Priestley). Cooke was also a classmate at Cambridge with Tony Richardson and John Schlesinger (apparently Andover at one point orders a ‘simple auberge a la John Schlesinger’; Cooke’s brother Malcolm edited Schlesinger’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)).

It would have been nice to see it. And not just because Fulton Mackay was in it.

Last episode, ‘The Fox and the Forest’
Next episode, ‘Some Lapse Time’

Mark Ward, Out of the Unknown: A Guide to the Legendary Series (Bristol: Kaleidoscope, 2004)
Kate Wilhelm, ‘Andover and the Android’, The Mile-Long Spaceship (New York: Berkeley Medallion, 1963), 115-127.

120 years of sf cinema, part three: 1935-1954

2015 marks the 120th anniversary of sf cinema. This is the third part of a year-by-year list of films I’d recommend (not always for the same reasons), and there are a few years where there is little to recommend for any reason.

Part one (1895-1914), part two (1915-1934) – both of which have lots of links to actual films rather than just occasional pictures…

Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale)
Kosmitchesky Reis/The Space Ship (Vasili Zhuravlev)
Mad Love (Karl Freund)

The Devil Doll (Tod Browning)
Flash Gordon (Frederick Stephani)
The Invisible Ray (Lambert Hillyer)
The Man Who Changed His Mind (Robert Stevenson)
Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies)

Q Planes (Tim Whelan, Arthur Woods)

The Big Broadcast of 1938 (Mitchell Leisen)

The Man They Could Not Hang (Nick Grinde)
Return of Dr X (Vincent Sherman)

Before I Hang (Nick Grinde)
Black Friday (Arthur Lubin)
Dr Cyclops (Ernest B. Schoedsack)
The Man with Nine Lives (Nick Grinde)
Son of Frankenstein (Rowland Lee)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Victor Fleming)

The Mad Ghoul (James P. Hogan)

Time Flies (Walter Forde)
The Man in Half Moon Street (Ralph M. Murphy)

The Perfect Woman (Bernard Knowles)
Siren of Atlantis (Greg Tallas)

Destination Moon (Irving Pichel)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise)
Five (Arch Oboler)
The Man from Planet X (Edgar G. Ulmer)Gort
The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick)
The Thing (from another World) (Christian Nyby)

Monkey Business (Howard Hawks)

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (Eugene Lourié)
Four-Sided Triangle (Terence Fisher)
Invaders from Mars (William Cameron Menzies)
It Came from Outer Space (Jack Arnold)

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold)
Gojira (Ishirô Honda)
Them! (Gordon Douglas)

Part four (1955-64)


120 years of sf cinema, part two: 1915-1934 (links galore!)

2015 marks the 120th anniversary of sf cinema. This is the second part of a year-by-year list of films I’d recommend (not always for the same reasons), and there are a few years where there is little to recommend for any reason.

Part one, 1895-1914

Les vampires (Louis Feuillade)

Verdens Undergang/The End of the World (August Blom)
20,000 Leagues under the Sea (Stuart Paton)

Ever Been Had (Dudley Buxton)

Himmelskibet/A Trip to Mars (Holger-Madsen)

Die puppe/The Doll (Ernst Lubitsch)
Die Spinnen/The Spiders (Fritz Lang)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (John S. Robertson)
One Week (Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton)
Der Golem: Wie Er in die Welt Kam/The Golem (Paul Wegener and Carl Boese)

L’Atlantide/Queen of Atlantis (Jacques Feyder)

The Electric House (Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton)

Paris Qui Dort/The Crazy Ray (René Clair)

Aelita (Jakov Protazanov)

Orlacs Haende/The Hands of Orlac (Robert Wiene)
The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt)

The Magician (Rex Ingram)

Metropolis (Fritz Lang)
Sur un Air de Charleston/Charleston (Jean Renoir)

Spione/Spies (Fritz Lang)
Alraune (Heinrich Galeen)

Frau im Mond/Woman in the Moon (Fritz Lang)
The Mysterious Island (Lucien Hubbard)
High Treason (Maurice Elvey) – silent and talkie versions on pay per view at BFI player

Just Imagine (David Butler)

Frankenstein (James Whale)
A Connecticut Yankee (David Butler)

Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton)
Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Rouben Mamoulian)
F.P.1 Antwortet Nicht/F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (Karl Hartl)

King Kong (Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper)
The Invisible Man (James Whale)
Das Testament des Dr Mabuse (Fritz Lang)
Der Tunnel (Curtis Bernhardt) – French version

Gold (Karl Hartl)

Part three, 1935-54

120 years of sf film, part one: 1895-1914 (links galore!)

2015 marks the 120th anniversary of sf cinema. This is the first part of a year-by-year list of films I’d recommend (not always for the same reasons), and there are a few years where there is little to recommend for any reason.

La charcuterie mécanique/The Mechanical Butcher (Louis Lumière)

L’hallucination de l’alchemiste/An Hallucinated Alchemist (Georges Méliès)
Making Sausages (George A. Smith)

La Lune á une mètre/The Astronomer’s Dream (Georges Méliès)

Un bon lit/A Midnight Episode (Georges Méliès) – first giant bug movie, sort of

Chapellerie et charcuterie mécanique/Automated Hat-maker and Sausage-Grinder (Alice Guy-Blaché) – the first sf film made by a woman

L’Homme à la Tête en Caoutchouc/The Man with the Rubber Head (Georges Méliès)
An Over Incubated Baby (Walter R. Booth)

Le voyage dans la lune/A Trip to the Moon (Georges Méliès)
Le Voyage de Gulliver à Lilliput et chez les géants/Gulliver’s Travels Among the Lilliputians and the Giants (Georges Méliès)

Le voyage à travers l’impossible/The Voyage Across the Impossible (Georges Méliès)
Dog Factory (Edwin S. Porter)

Le Raid Paris-Monte Carlo en deux heures/An Adventurous Automobile Trip (Georges Méliès)

The ‘?’ Motorist (Walter R. Booth)
Rescued in Mid-Air (Percy Stow)

1907 Le dirigeable fantastique/The Inventor Crazybrains and his Wonderful Airship (Georges Méliès)
Deux cent milles sous les mers/Under the Seas (Georges Méliès) – has almost nothing to do with the Jules Verne novel

Photographie électrique à distance/Long Distance Wireless Photography (Georges Méliès)
El Hotel eléctrico (Segundo de Chomón)
Excursion dans la lune/Excursion to the Moon (Segundo de Chomón) – Méliès knock-off
L’Aspirateur/The Vacuum Cleaner (Segundo de Chomón)

The Airship Destroyer (Walter R. Booth)
Hydrothérapie fantastique (Georges Méliès)
Le voleur invisible (Segundo de Chomón)

Frankenstein (J. Searle Dawley)
The Aerial Submarine (Walter R. Booth)
Matrimonio interplanetario/A Marriage in the Moon (Yambo (Enrico Novelli))

The Automatic Motorist (Walter R. Booth)

À la conquête du pole/The Conquest of the Pole (Georges Méliès)
Onésime horloger/Onesime, Clockmaker (Jean Durand)

A Message from Mars (J. Wallet Waller)

Der Golem (Heinrich Galeen)

Part two, 1915-1934

The first sf film by a woman

Alice Guy-Blaché
Alice Guy-Blaché

I have always semi-relied on Phil Hardy’s Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction for a quick guide to early sf films, beginning with the Louis Lumiere’s La charcuterie mécanique/The Mechanical Butcher from 1895. I have also for year known about Alice Guy-Blaché, the first woman filmmaker and the first woman to own and run a studio, who made over a thousand films between 1896 and 1920 (about a third of which survive) and who until recently has been consistently written out of the history of cinema. Being a little slow-witted, it never occurred to me to crash these things into each other to see what would emerge, and yesterday purely by chance while looking for something else entirely I ran into Chapellerie et charcuterie mécanique/Automated Hat-maker and Sausage-Grinder from 1900. It is one of a number of films that play on the same idea as the La charcuterie mécanique, such as George A. Smith’s Making Sausages (1897) and Edwin S. Porter’s Dog Factory (1904). It is possible that one of Alice Guy-Blaché’s earlier films could be considered science-fictional, but Chez le magnétiseur/At the Hypnotist’s (1897) pushes even my broad definition and I don’t think L’utilité des rayons x (1898) has survived – it sounds promising but I’ve yet to find any information on it.