The ’50s represent the final decade of the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” and the era certainly went out with a bang. Many of the most enduring films were produced during the decade. Americans had also never before experienced the level of infatuation with silver screen celebrities as they did with the most popular actors and beloved actresses who emerged in these years.
Some of the classic sci-fi movies from the 1950s stand as a testament to how this film genre came into its own during these years. Of course, their special effects leave a lot to be desired by today’s standards, but filmmakers showed great creativity and yielded serious innovation in bringing their science fiction stories to life in a visual medium.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular, famous, and classic sci-fi movies from the 1950s. And if you’re not here just for the genre, and are a classic movie lover in general, take a look at our selection of iconic movies from the 1950s when you’re finished.
Top ’50s Sci-Fi Films
- The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951; directed by Rober Wise; starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Hugh Marlowe. A visitor from another world comes to Earth to warn its inhabitants about the intergalactic perils of not living peacefully.
- The Thing from Another World – 1951; directed by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks; starring Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, and James Arness. US Air Force personnel and scientists at an Arctic outpost face a killer threat. If you’re wondering what sort of threat, well, the title is kind of spoiler.
- Invaders from Mars – 1953; directed by William Cameron Menzies; starring Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, and Jimmy Hunt. A kid discovers that aliens are controlling the minds of his fellow Earthlings.
- It Came from Outer Space – 1953; directed by Jack Arnold; starring Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, and Charles Drake. A UFO crashes in Arizona and coincidentally, a lot of the locals suddenly start acting really weird.
- The War of the Worlds – 1953; directed by Byron Haskin; starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, and Les Tremayne. Martians kick off their invasion of Earth in a small California town in this famous film adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic. Alien invasions were particularly big in 1953.
- Godzilla – 1954; directed by Ishirô Honda; starring Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, and Akira Takarada. One of the most enduring classic sci-fi movies from the 1950s, this is the well-known cautionary tale of nature’s revenge for mankind’s nuclear weapons testing.
- Forbidden Planet – 1956; directed by Fred M. Wilcox; starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. When a planet’s colony stops communicating, a space crew goes to investigate and finds only two survivors—one of whom has a dark secret.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers – 1956; directed by Don Siegal; starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, and Larry Gates. The population of a community is being replaced by alien replicates.
- The Incredible Shrinking Man – 1957; directed by Jack Arnold; starring Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, and April Kent. Exposure to radiation and a pesticide cause a man to start getting smaller and smaller.
- The Fly – 1958; directed by Kurt Neumann; starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, and Vincent Price. This horror/sci-fi film tells the story of a scientist’s teleportation experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong.