Det Jim McLeod

Twenty All Time Great Science Fiction Films

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This is a book i own, complied by Kenneth Von Gunden and Stuart H. Stock published in 1982. I have finally seen all of them (Things To Come was the final one). There are ones you would expect like Day The Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet and 2001. But there are little known ones like Magnetic Monster and Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Surprisingly, no Star Wars films were included. What do you think of this list?

Things To Come (1936)

Destination Moon (1950)

The Thing (1951)

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

The Man In The White Suit (1951)

Donovan's Brain (1953)

The Magnetic Monster (1953)

Invaders From Mars (1953)

The War Of The Worlds (1953)

Them (1954)

This Island Earth (1955)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)

Village Of The Damned (1960)

Dr Strangelove (1964)

Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Mind Of Mr Soames (1969)

Colossus-The Forbin Project (1970)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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Interesting list, but it leaves out a lot of important films. Others, like The Man in the White Suit, don't really belong, although technically it's a Sci-fi movie if one wants to be pedantic. I wouldn't have included either The Magnetic Monster or The Mind of Mr. Soames.

The post-75 era has seen a lot of terrific SF movies, so it's hard to imagine a list not containing any, although the publication date is part of it.

I posted my personal Top 100 pick a couple of years back on this thread:

http://forums.tcm.com/topic/94871-top-100-sf-films/

There may have been a couple I would add since then, like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.

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THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) is probably my favorite. Though I like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) a lot too.

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I wouldn't have included either The Magnetic Monster or The Mind of Mr. Soames.

I wouldn't have included The Mind Of Mr Soames either, but it is one of my favorite films. It is about a man(Terence Stamp) who has been in a coma since birth and is now 30 years old. A surgeon (Robert Vaughn) performs a special brain operation which awakens him. There are great scenes of trying to teach him basic skills so he can be put into society. It was made in England and has some fine locations and a pointed discussion of how to educate and raise a child. Nigel Davenport plays a doctor who takes a cold, clinical approach and Vaughn tries to use more kindness and enjoyable activities. 

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) is probably my favorite. Though I like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) a lot too.

I like those two as well. "Day The Earth Stood Still" is a great Christ allegory with Klaatu coming to earth, dying and being resurrected, he even takes the name of Carpenter (Jesus's occupation)

"Body Snatchers" is good film, as close to horror as sci-fi. The scary part was how your neighbors and loved ones can suddenly turn evil, which is also similar to the plot of "Invaders From Mars" another of my favorites.

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1 hour ago, universalkaiju said:

No Godzilla?

 

Afraid not, the authors wanted to limit themselves to just 20, and ones they consider "great" not "best". They do a very in depth look at each film, describing every scene in detail. 

As for "Godzilla" most of us got to know the US version with Raymond Burr, which is good, though the original Japanese version is better, giving more in depth to the characters and a sense of foreboding, and that great music is one of the best things about it.

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There are three excellent Sci-fi pictures that come to mind: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Blade Runner (1982), and The Matrix (1999).  And while I wouldn't classify it as sci-fi in the strictest sense, since stylistically it has more in common with film noir,  Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, from 1965, about a super computer that bans all human thought, is a film I absolutely love.  

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I am one of the authors of Twenty All-Time Great Science Fiction films. I just happened to come across this discussion and since the comments are relatively recent, I thought I would reply to clarify some things.

  • "There are no Star Wars movies mentioned."
    • At the time we wrote TATGSF, everyone was writing about Star Wars. We felt there was nothing new we could contribute to that discussion so we deliberately left it out.
  • "It leaves out a lot of important films."
    • As Detective Jim McLeod points out, the goal of the book was to look at 20 films we liked and do an exhaustive examination of each of them, so of course many important SF films are left out. If circumstances had been different, we would have produced Twenty MORE All-Time Great Science Fiction Films, and so on, but it was not to be. 
  • The Man in the White Suit, don't really belong, although technically it's a Sci-fi movie if one wants to be pedantic. I wouldn't have included either The Magnetic Monster or The Mind of Mr. Soames.
    • Again, our choices were very personal. The Man in the White Suit deals with a classic SF theme and demonstrates that science fiction is often satirical and deals with the impact of technology. You might compare it to the well-known SF author Robert A. Heinlein's short story, "Let There Be Light."
    • The more obscure films in the book, like Magnetic Monster and The Mind of Mr. Soames, were my choices. Both of these films, like The Man in the White Suit deal with the impact of technology on people and society. If real science fiction is about anything, that's it.
  • I'd like to thank Det Jim, who actually bought the book. 😀  If anyone is interested in it, you can still find it online for a variety of prices. Amazon has it for anywhere between $5.98 to $817.99 for an autographed copy. If you do buy it, Ken Von Gunden and I won't see a penny from it at this point, so I'm not here selling anything. 🤪 If anyone would like to comment further or wants more clarification, I would be glad to respond on this forum. Best wishes.
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19 hours ago, shstock99 said:

I'd like to thank Det Jim, who actually bought the book

Thank you so much for replying, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and refer to it often. It reminded of my childhood favorites like "Invaders From Mars" as well as an introduction to ones like "Things To Come" and "Village Of The Damned". 

Do you own copies of all the films? Since you go into such great detail on every scene, you either have a great memory or watched each one carefully before writing about them.

 

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Hi Jim:

At one time either I or Ken had copies of the films. Remember that in the early 80's there was no internet or CDs. What we had was VCRs and not many of the films were even on tape. We had to keep a close eye out for when these films were showing on TV and record them when we could. I got rid of most of my videotapes a few years ago and some of the movies went with them. At this point, having watched them so many times, I could probably recite most of the dialog from them. Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Donovan's Brain and several others sometimes show up on TCM. Thanks again for your interest. I will continue to look for further comments here. Best Wishes.

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Looks like quite a fine list to me. These films are the cornerstone of the genre; they were pioneering; they helped set the field into the order as we know it today. 'Forbidden Planet' is the standout mention, as far as I'm concerned. I'll take it over slick, Luc/Berg era flicks anytime. The newer something is, the easier it was to crank out, less I'm bound to like it. Give me a classic (even an obscure classic) every time. There's even an intense fascination (for me) for a film like 'The Shape of Thing To Come' precisely because of the crude, clumsy, fumbling ambition behind that production. It speaks volumes about the mindset of those who made it. Truly a cultural document.

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On 3/12/2019 at 12:01 PM, Sgt_Markoff said:

Looks like quite a fine list to me. These films are the cornerstone of the genre; they were pioneering; they helped set the field into the order as we know it today. 'Forbidden Planet' is the standout mention, as far as I'm concerned. I'll take it over slick, Luc/Berg era flicks anytime. The newer something is, the easier it was to crank out, less I'm bound to like it. Give me a classic (even an obscure classic) every time. There's even an intense fascination (for me) for a film like 'The Shape of Thing To Come' precisely because of the crude, clumsy, fumbling ambition behind that production. It speaks volumes about the mindset of those who made it. Truly a cultural document.

"The Shape of Things To Come" is actually trying to make a statement about the mankind.  "Forbidden Planet" has aged even better- MGM obviously spent the money on the production and fx which are still effective today.

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I'm assuming you are discussing the British Things to Come (1936), and not the Canadian The Shape of Things to Come (1979) which, while hilarious, was a cinematic travesty.

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I believe I'm referring to the one starring Ralph Richardson(?); original story by HG Wells (?). I don't mind whatever statement they were trying to make with it, whatever one I saw ...I simply like the fortitude of the film. Forging ahead!

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