This chapter switches the focus from iconic characters to iconic spaces, following the demographic changes brought about by World War II and the expansion of the domestic infrastructure during the Eisenhower administration. It focuses on the ways in which the military encouraged certain ways of perceiving and experiencing cities, suburbs, and small towns in the transition from World War II to the Cold War. More specifically, it takes on the desert landscape of the American Southwest and tracks its occupation by the military. Closely associated with the development and testing of the US nuclear arsenal, but also with the world of the American frontier and the Western, the southwestern desert appears, in turn, deeply familiar and eerily strange to 1950s American culture. Science fiction films like Jack Arnold's It Came from Outer Space (1953) and Gordon Douglas's Them! (1954) unfold as the Cold War overwrites the traditional connotations of the landscape.
Keywords: science fiction films, American films, World War II, military, Cold War, American Southwest