In Roger Corman’s WAR OF THE SATELLITES (1958), Dick Miller and Susan Cabot play scientists and crew members of a spacecraft of the Sigma Project, whose mission is to explore deep space. Before doing so it must first breach the “Sigma barrier,” a mysterious energy field put in place by advanced aliens who don’t want humans to reach the stars. Aboard the Sigma spaceship, the project leader has been replaced by an alien replica, played by Richard Devon. Will our pioneering heroes stop this alien threat and begin mankind’s journey to strange, new worlds?
According to Wikipedia WAR OF THE SATELLITES was made for about $70,000. One of many cost-cutting techniques used in the production of this film was to minimize the number of sets which were built, and to maximize the use of those sets. Based on my observations of the film, the Sigma spacecraft’s various interiors were depicted by three basic sets:
- An arc-shaped room with arches across the ceiling.
- A stretch of corridor with one or two doors which were supposed to lead to adjoining areas of the ship.
- A dedicated “airlock” set, which seems to have been built at least in part from stright-wall segments of the arc-shaped room.
The single-use airlock set was seemingly built on a platform so that people could be lowered through the hatch in the floor. The arc-shaped room and the corridor were redressed numerous times.
The primary way in which the sets were redressed was in the placement of set decorations and set props. For example the spaceship’s flight control room was a redress of the arc-shaped room, with a large, free-standing console placed at one end of the room. This console was also used in the “captain’s room,” another redress of the arc-shaped room, with the console positioned in the middle of the room.
Below are screencaps from WAR OF THE SATELLITES‘ scenes which take place aboard the Sigma spacecraft. How many set redresses and set prop placements can you identify?