Anatomy of a Movie #18: Strong Women of Sci-Fi

It had to be science fiction, right? That’s the only way some 1950s “monster movie” directors could ever slip past the censors the far-fetched idea of actresses playing strong, brilliant, and highly credentialed women. Don’t get me wrong. Most comparable movies of the time had women in secondary roles whose chief qualities were beauty, servitude to men, and the ability to emit high-pitched, ear-piercing shrieks at the drop of a hat. Witness the young Jill St. John in “The Lost World” (1960). And yet, five "B” movies between 1951 and 1957 actually costarred women playing serious, courageous scientists or medical doctors. What a refreshing aberration. “Them” (1954) featured Joan Weldon as Dr. Patricia Medford; “It Came from Beneath the Sea” (1955) co-starred Faith Domergue as Dr. Leslie Jones; “20 Million Miles to Earth” (1957) highlighted Joan Taylor as Marisa Leonardo studying to be an MD; “The Thing From Another World” (1951) with Margaret Sheridan as research associate Nikki; an

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