Destination Moon (1950)

Synopsis:

A scientist (Warner Anderson, The Caine Mutiny), a retired General (Tom Powers, Double Indemnity) and a tycoon (John Archer, The Big Trees) work together to develop the very first trip to the moon.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“The next time you tell me you can get to the Moon, I’ll believe you!”

Producer George Pal’s second feature-length motion picture was a game-changer in the science-fiction genre. Up to that point, space travel had been portrayed by movies as the product of someone’s vivid imagination. Pal took something that was perceived as nothing but fantasy and presented it in a realistic manner thus creating the very first serious movie about space exploration.

Destination Moon makes a valiant effort to stick to real science. Truth be told, this is still more fantasy than science, but there were a few things the movie got right. The film accurately suggests that the private sector, not the government, will be instrumental in the development of the space program. Billionaires and entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have proven the film right.

Unfortunately, the dialogue is terrible and the performances are nothing to brag about. Also, despite the elaborate (Oscar-nominated) sets and Lionel Lindon’s (Around the World in 80 Days and The Manchurian Candidate) beautiful color cinematography, the film feels like a glorified B-movie. In addition, director Irving Pichel’s (The Most Dangerous Game and Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid) work lacks panache.

The then state-of-the-art, Oscar-winning visual and sound effects look pretty silly nowadays. But if you take into account the year it was made — this is ten years before Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth, and nearly twenty years before Apollo II’s moon trip — you’ll appreciate special effects a little better.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Destination Moon was well-received by both critics and audiences. The film received my accolades for its ground-breaking technical achievements. It isn’t a very good movie — it’s a bit dull and lifeless. Destination Moon is, however, an important film in the development of the sci-fi genre — it paved the way for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968),  Marooned (1969) and Gravity (2013). Color, 92 minutes, Not Rated.

4 responses to “Destination Moon (1950)

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