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FLM 125 — Cold War Shivers: Sci-Fi Scare Films of the Fifties!

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Virtual
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 13—Aug 17
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Jul 26
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $265
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Status: Open
Please Note: This is a virtual course. Click here for more information about our course formats, including FAQs. These sessions will be recorded for later viewing.
Summer
Virtual
Mondays
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Date(s)
Jul 13—Aug 17
6 weeks
Drop By
Jul 26
1 Unit
Fees
$265
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Instructor(s):
Elliot Lavine
Open
Please Note: This is a virtual course. Click here for more information about our course formats, including FAQs. These sessions will be recorded for later viewing.
On the surface, life in America during the 1950s was a time of bright optimism and widespread prosperity. But the dawn of the Nuclear Age brought new anxieties to this era of unparalleled technological advancement. On the silver screen, misgivings about the future spawned a dark cinematic vision in the form of low-budget speculative science fiction films.

In this course, we will consider a selection of key 1950s sci-fi films that exploited everyday fears in creative ways, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Don Siegel’s critique of conformity rooted in McCarthyite Cold War paranoia. This and other films covered in the course—The Thing, Them!, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, It Came from Outer Space, and The Incredible Shrinking Man—offered 1950s audiences a variety of thrilling scenarios predicated on wild nuclear nightmares, hostile visitors from alien worlds, and creeping realizations that science had finally gone mad. Audiences embraced these strangely exciting pictures, making them among the highest-grossing films of the decade.

Each of these six films, all enduring examples of a largely misunderstood and maligned genre, will be discussed with respect to their meanings and subtexts—without losing sight of the pure entertainment value they provide.

All films can be rented or streamed instantly through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play Movies, or other online platforms.

Elliot Lavine, Film Programmer

Elliot Lavine is an adjunct instructor of film studies at Oregon State. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir.
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)