Keep Watching the Skies (2010) – By James L. Neibaur

This is, by this reviewer’s count, the third version of Sci-Fi movie historian Bill Warren’s KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES, the first one coming out back in 1982.  Examining the science-fiction films of the 1950s (from 1950 to 1962), Warren explores a period and a genre that continues to fascinate and entertain ensuing generations.  Not limiting his reference to specifics, Warren includes any science-fiction related film of the 50s, including such tangential titles as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953) and  THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS (1954). 

The book is a massive coffee table tome, over-sized with over 1000 pages containing two columns of text per page, several appendices, a thorough Bibliography, and a massive index.  The films are listed alphabetically, with complete information and assessment.  There are hundreds of photos, and at least 35 color ad slicks. 

While there have been many large, beautiful books that are big on style and short on substance, KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES continues to be the quintessential reference for 1950s sci-fi movies.  Warren provides the obligatory cast and credit info for each film, but it is his essays and assessments that are most interesting.  Being very astute in his sci-fi movie knowledge and appreciation, Warren never talks down to the films, per se.  He acknowledges the flaws on some of the lowest budgeted efforts, but realizes that B, and even C, movies have a significant charm of their own, and some are far greater than their limited production finances would have one believe.

Fellow film historian Tom Weaver, whom Warren acknowledges as someone “who knows more about the people who made science fiction movies of the 1950s than anyone else on the planet, including me” makes notable contributions to many of the chapters, greatly enhancing the text. 

KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES is one of those reference books that has everything, especially for fans of the genre and the period.  Statistical information, reviews and assessments, memories from those who worked on the films, further background information, and box office success all combine to make each entry an interesting, informative and entertaining read.  This latest volume solidifies the book’s continued status as the definitive look at sci-fi films of the 50s. 

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