Monday, February 08, 2010

Rocketship XM (released May 26, 1950) pt 1

Rocketship X-M and Destination Moon were the two “spaceship to the stars” movies that made their debut in 1950.

Rocketship X-M (X for expedition, M for Moon, for all that they end up on Mars)

Although Dr. Lisa Van Horn (played by Osa Massen) is a scientist, women’s roles are pretty well defined in this film in a 1950s way. It is her miscalculations that cause them to crash.

“Four men and a woman blast into space on humanity's first expedition to the Moon, a 48-hour journey. At 112,000 miles into their 238,000-mile journey to the Moon, the engines shut down because of a fuel problem. The solution accomplishes something they had never dreamed.”

Rocketship XM was rushed into production after Destination Moon had begun filming. It was shot in black & white and of course beat its competitor to release by three weeks.

According to Bill Warren:
Because Pal’s film was much more scrupulously scientific than Rocketship X-M, and because Lippert’s production was clearly designed to capitalize on the orchestrated and extensive publicity of Destination Moon, Rocketship X-M was frowned on by some critics. Today, however, it seems much more exciting and interesting than Destination Moon, which is austere and cautious. The melodramatics of Rocketship XM are more entertaining, and the warning about atomic warfare is still timely.

Both films make a similar error in dramatics, in having a comic sidekick to the main action, Dick Wesson is somehow more offensive in Destination Moon than Noh Beery Jr in Rocketship XM, but there is little reason otherwise to choose between them. Both derive from war films in which there was generally a comic corporal along for “audience identification.”

Floyd: I've been wondering, how did a girl like you get mixed up in a thing like this in the first place.
Dr. Lisa Van Horn: I suppose you think that women should only cook and sew and bear children.
Floyd: Isn't that enough?

Lloyd Bridges ... Col. Floyd Graham
Osa Massen ... Dr. Lisa Van Horn
John Emery ... Dr. Karl Eckstrom
Noah Beery Jr. ... Maj. William Corrigan
Hugh O'Brian ... Harry Chamberlain
Morris Ankrum ... Dr. Ralph Fleming
Patrick Aherne ... Reporter #1 (as Patrick Ahern)
Sherry Moreland ... Martian Girl
John Dutra ... Physician
Kathy Marlowe ... Reporter (as Katherine Marlowe)

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