Saturday, 9 January 2010

British Science Fiction Movie Posters of the 1950s and early 1960s Part III

The Time Machine poster was designed by (William) Reynold Brown; see:

Towards the end of the 1950s and in the early 1960s, film adaptations of sci-fi literature became increasingly popular, though the first notable one, Byron Haskin’s George Pal-produced The War Of The Worlds, had been made much earlier, in 1953. Pal looked to H. G. Wells again when he produced and directed The Time Machine in Britain in 1960. Starring the Australian actor Rod Taylor, then making a name for himself in Hollywood playing Americans (and lately seen as Winston Churchill, no less, in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009)), as H. George Wells, and the American Yvette Mimieux as Weena, the girl from the future.

Although it was filmed in Culver City, California, Pal had been unable to sell Hollywood the screenplay, and was backed by British MGM, for whom he had made Tom Thumb (1958) with Russ Tamblyn, Peter Sellers and Terry Thomas.

The Time Machine won an Oscar for time-lapse photographic effects showing the world changing rapidly through time. Pal always intended to make a sequal, but never did.

The actual Time Machine prop has appeared elsewhere - Carl Sagan's TV series Cosmos and Joe Dante's movie, Gremilins, for example.

The 'quad' poster - the style preferred by British cinema chains

The French poster - a simplified version of Brown's original

The Spanish poster

Quad poster favoured by British cinemas

Another 1960 literary adaptation was Village of the Damned, a reasonably faithful adaptation of John Wyndham’s dystopian novel The Midwich Cuckoos, directed by Wolf Rilla.A group of children are all born the same day after an incident months earlier when everyone in the British village of Midwich suddenly fell unconscious and the military established a five-mile exclusion zone even for aircraft. As they grow, they develop at impossible speed and it is obvious they have a telepathic bond with one another. They begin to exhibit the power to read people’s minds and force them to act against their will; for example they make a man kill himself by crashing his car into a wall and then they force his suspicious brother to shoot himself. It is found that similar occurences happened in other communities around the world.The dramatic Italian version of the poster

Rather than show much in the way of onscreen violence, Rilla peferred to use suggestion and suspense and he hooks the ausience by creating a perfectly believable picture of village life, with people going about their everyday business.Poster for the Belgian release

The film was slated to be an American production in 1957, starring Ronald Colman as Professor Gordon Zellaby, the man who discovers more about the children, but MGM shelved the project, deeming it controversial because of the sinister depiction of virgin birth. George Sanders took the role of Zellaby when filming started in England; by then he was married to actress Benita Hume, widow of Colman, who had died in 1958.French poster

A sort of thematic sequel, Children of the Damned, was released in 1963 in which two scientists discover the existence of six genetically similar children with superior intelligence, from China, the USSR, the USA, the UK, Nigeria and India . They take them to London for observation and, with Cold-War tensions building, world governments decide how to use their powers and ask for their return. The children already know this and, using telekinesis, kill several government and military officials, then they hide in an abandoned church waiting for the inevitable confrontation with the armed forces...

John Carpenter remade Village of the Damned in 1995, changing the setting to the US.

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