World Without End (1956)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/8/17
Cast: Hugh Marlowe, Nancy Gates, Nelson Leigh, Rod Taylor, Shirley Patterson, Lisa Montell, Christopher Dark

Four astronauts on a reconnaissance mission to Mars encounter a strange force that propels them five hundred years into the future. When they return to Earth, civilization has been destroyed by nuclear warfare and dangerous mutated creatures roam the land. Luckily, they are rescued by a small group of human survivors who live underground, that are eager to learn more about the strangers. Curiously, the remnants of humanity consist entirely of frail old men and gorgeous young women who lust after the strong and handsome astronauts. Despite the safety and comfort of their underground accommodations, the astronauts quickly become restless and feel trapped by their benefactors. They decide to make a break for the surface and establish their own camp where they can live and die as free men, but their fearful hosts sabotage their plans and refuse to help.

It's a silly and pretentious film that strongly echoes the post-war attitudes of the 1950s and the growing fear of nuclear annihilation. The dialog is stiff and overly preachy, and despite all the talk about peace and pacifism, violence and brute force end up winning the day. The visual effects are unremarkable, and the highlight is a scene where the heroes are attacked by a giant rubber spider. The most shocking aspect of the film is the costume design, which was clearly inspired by pin-up artist Alberto Vargas. The first time Nancy Gates showed up in her futuristic mini-dress, I nearly fell out of my seat. It was like she had jumped right off the page of a Vargas pin-up calendar. While visually stunning, the absurdity of it all made me laugh out loud in surprise and disbelief. Naturally, these leggy young ladies fire up the astronauts' libidos, which leads to lots of uncomfortable courtship and lascivious male posturing. The film ends on a surprisingly positive note, as the men from the past help rebuild the society of the future.