This book is open access and available on www.bloomsburycollections.com. It is funded by Knowledge Unlatched. 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.
This is the book on British 1950s sci-fi we've been waiting for! Authoritative, accessible, covering a wide range of films and directors, this is the one-stop volume on this key period in British cinema, carefully written and researched, making these films come alive for a whole new audience. * Wheeler Winston Dixon, James Ryan Professor of Film Studies, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA * In this fascinating study of the British reception of 1950s American science fiction films, Matthew Jones shows that these films are more than just about the fear of communism and The Bomb. Boldly challenging critical orthodoxy, Jones' work has enormous implications for our wider understanding of genre and national cinema. * Barry Keith Grant, Professor Emeritus, Brock University, Canada and author of Film Genre: From Iconography to Ideology and many other books on film * With this book, Matthew Jones provides a fascinating revisionary account of 1950s science fiction cinema. Through focusing on the specifically British reception of both British and American Sf films, Jones challenges the `commie-baiting' readings that have become firmly associated with this kind of cinema and finds instead new and sometimes surprising significance, nuance and ambivalence. Accessible, stimulating and provocative, Jones's study is a valuable contribution to our understanding of British film culture during the 1950s. It is also a welcome reminder that films are as much defined through the contexts of their reception as they are through the circumstances of their production. * Peter Hutchings, Professor of Film Studies, Northumbria University, UK * Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain cleverly rethinks the reception of a range of genre films in the British context, challenging received wisdoms and revising established histories along the way. Matthew Jones skilfully re-reads the likes of monster movies, alien invasion narratives, and nuclear nightmares to show how British audiences of the time were unlikely to mirror the kinds of cinematic understandings historically linked to US culture. Rather than `reds under the bed', this was an era of Establishment defectors in Britain, whilst Jones also analyses how `atomic anxieties' were distinctively filtered through memories and practices of the Blitz . Offering timely new ways of approaching 1950s science fiction cinema, this book brilliantly complicates film history's dominant accounts. * Matt Hills, Professor of Media and Film, University of Huddersfield, UK * Received wisdom on the 1950s wave of English language science-fiction films views them primarily as articulating distinctively American fears of communist infiltration and nuclear science, albeit in allegorical form. In this volume Matthew Jones offers a more nuanced reading, reconsidering the films in their context of reception in Britain where, he argues, rather different public anxieties play into their likely understanding by audiences. In a UK in the throes of losing its empire the threat of communism was seen rather differently, attitudes to nuclear energy and science were arguably more complex, and race was becoming a significant factor in public perceptions. Re-examining the films in this cultural context gives rise to a fascinating study which obliges us both to rethink the traditional critical approach to 50s sf cinema and, more generally, to recognise that it is always necessary to pay full attention to the cultural landscapes within which films are received and understood. * Andrew Tudor, Professor Emeritus, University of York, UK *