fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Spring Quarter

Spring Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Apr 03
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

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

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 4—Jun 6
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 6
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $465
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 4—Jun 6
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 6
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Elliot Lavine
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The Nuclear Age brought a host of new anxieties to a decade of unparalleled technological advancement. On the silver screen, misgivings about the future spawned a dark cinematic vision in the form of speculative science fiction films.

In this immersive course, we will consider a wide selection of 1950s sci-fi films that exploited everyday fears in often unexpectedly creative cinematic ways. These films offered 1950s audiences a variety of thrilling scenarios predicated on nuclear nightmares ranging from hostile visitors from alien worlds to radioactively mutated insects, all amid a creeping societal realization that science had finally gone mad. Audiences embraced these strangely exciting pictures, making them among the highest-grossing films of the decade.

Over 20 films will be viewed, including Don Siegel’s spellbinding Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Howard Hawks’s groundbreaking classic The Thing from Another World (1951), War of the Worlds (1953), Them! (1954), Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956), It Came from Outer Space (1953), and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957).

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

For students who have previously taken the course, the structure is the same but the content is new. Past students are encouraged to join. All films can be rented or streamed through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play Movies, or other online platforms.

Film Programmer and Filmmaker

Elliot Lavine has been creating and programming films since the late 1970s. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.