Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1950. George Pal Productions. Screenplay by Alford Van Ronkel, Robert A. Heinlein, James O’Hanlon, based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein. Cinematography by Lionel Lindon. Produced by George Pal. Music by Leith Stevens. Production Design by Ernst Fegte. Film Editing by Duke Goldstone.
Today this film is merely a curiosity of yesteryear, but at the time it came out it was considered a serious attempt at marrying entertainment with science. Spending years on research, the filmmakers came up with the best possible case scenario for what would happen if astronauts took a trip to the moon. Here, four of them make the perilous journey in a sleek, pointy rocketship that lands quite safely upon its destination but doesn’t promise so smooth a return voyage. While there, though, they take a good look at the beautifully tranquil terrain of the satellite (which they keep referring to as a planet) and take in its wonders (the matte work is still astonishing). You know this was an attempt at serious filmmaking because they don’t find any weird creatures or evil aliens on the moon, just a bunch of rock and dust. The film also includes an impressive space walk sequence and some delightfully B-moviesque characterizations. If you were actually in outer space there would be no one you would want to keep you company more than a radar expert who tawks with a Brooklyn accent and keeps referring to his love of baseball and ‘dames’. Lots of fun, an interesting precursor to movies like Apollo 13 and Mission To Mars.
Academy Award: Best Special Effects
Nomination: Best Art Direction-Colour
Berlin Film Festival Award: Bronze Bear for Best Crime or Adventure Film
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Original Score