Cult Films and the 1950's

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Over past nine weeks we've embarked on a journey spanning seven decades of cult films and also received a brief education of our not so distant past. We've seen the outrageous, the good, the bad and the ugly, the weirdly dramatic, and the just plain weird of the last seven decades of cult films and how in the end somehow find away to incorporate a piece of American culture at the time. However, by far the most intriguing decade to me would have to be the nineteen fifties. There are many reasons why I could say the fifties ranging from great sports moments to political milestones, which gave way to our society now. The nineteen fifties were a time when segregation was ending, people were daring to explore their sexuality, the race to venture in to space, the Korean War, the birth of the New York Yankee Legacy, and Elvis.

However, for my purposes in this paper and in relation to the cult film genre, there are three specific reasons why I chose the era of the fifties. The most important reason would be the taboos of the decade, namely the taboo and paranoia of communism and the Cold War with the then Soviet Union. Second, there were many excellent cult films to come out of the period addressing the taboos of the time, two of which I would like to share. Third, the fifties brought us possibly "the worst director of all time" and "the ultimate cult director" Ed Wood, Jr. It is for these reasons that the 1950's are, to quote Prof. Allan Havis, "the quintessential decade of films."

Entering the nineteen fifties the United States was getting past the bitter memories of World War II only to a brand new threat, Communism. The fear or taboo of communism was every where. Television programs and newspapers ran features on the newest government official, entertainer, and even next door neighbors suspected of communism. Led by Senator John McCarthy citizens left and right stood trial for being a communist or aiding Russians in the "Cold War". Knowing that anyone...
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