Red Planet Mars (1952)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Propaganda Film  |   Release Date - May 15, 1952 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Red Planet Mars is an eerily fascinating artifact of the era of the Red Scare, and also the first postwar science fiction boom, combining those elements into an eerie story that is all the more surreal because it is played with such earnestness. Peter Graves and Andrea King -- especially King -- act like they are in some kind of modern day morality play, and Herbert Berghof (a legendary acting teacher who was blacklisted at the time, as was his wife Uta Hagen) is so over-the-top as to be an embarrassment to his profession. And yet . . . therein lies the movie's value -- it can be appreciated as an Edward D. Wood, Jr.-type unintended laugh-fest, which is the way in which it has usually been presented since the 1950's and early 1960's. But it can also be seen as a slightly nutsy-but-valid expression of the concerns of its era, as the politics of Armageddon flowed through the corners of middle America. This would be a great double-feature with MGM's ever-so-slightly more level-headed The Next Voice You Hear, as the doom-laden rightwing equivalent to that movie's soft-peddled liberal version of anti-Communism.