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Release Date:
1959 (USA) See more »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win See more »
(6 articles)
CBS News to air special program dedicated to Mike Wallace
 (From - Inside TV. 8 April 2012, 11:10 AM, PDT)

David Wolper obituary
 (From The Guardian - TV News. 16 August 2010, 10:43 AM, PDT)

David Wolper obituary
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 16 August 2010, 10:43 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Entertaining, if dated and a bit stagy at times See more (1 total) »


Esther Goddard ... Herself - Interviewee
Holger N. Toftoy ... Himself - Interviewee

Mike Wallace ... Narrator

Directed by
David L. Wolper 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Laurence E. Mascott 
David L. Wolper 

Produced by
Jack Haley Jr. .... associate producer
David L. Wolper .... executive producer
Original Music by
Elmer Bernstein 
Cinematography by
Michael Nebbia 
Jerry Reeves (location)
Film Editing by
Philip R. Rosenberg 
Editorial Department
Alan H. Presberg .... editorial assistant
Other crew
Ted Littlefield .... title designer
Jim McDonough .... film researcher
M.R. Morris .... researcher
M.R. Morris .... technical advisor
James Scheer .... researcher
James Scheer .... technical advisor
Mel Stuart .... film researcher
Esther Goddard .... acknowledgment: additional footage provided by

Production CompaniesOther Companies

Additional Details

USA:55 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

After being rejected by CBS, NBC, and ABC, producer David L. Wolper sold the film to 109 individual stations, and it first aired the week of 24 April 1960.See more »


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Entertaining, if dated and a bit stagy at times, 14 April 2015

This documentary was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary, Feature, losing to The Serengeti Shall Not Die. There will be spoilers ahead:

This is an interesting and entertaining look back at the early proponents of rocketry and manned space flight, as well as the early days of the "space race" between the US and the USSR. The documentary opens with footage of the first Sputnik launch, with Mike Wallace's distinctive voice in narration. Ten we see Wallace on screen and he talks briefly about the race for space before covering the early days of rockets and pioneers like Tsiolkovsky and Goddard and their experiments with rocket-propelled flight.

Wallace interviews Goddard's widow, Esther Goddard and though the interview itself feels a bit rehearsed and staged, it does contain interesting information and insight into Goddard and his research.

The documentary then covers the Germans, their interest in Goddard and rockets, Werner von Braun and the base at Peenemunde and the V-2 rocket. The Germans wanted to develop a super weapon, but a couple of misfires gave the Allies sufficient information to go on for them to realize they needed to at least try to delay the German program. Eventually, von Braun and other German scientists went to work for the US.

The bulk of the documentary is on the Russian Sputnik program, its successes and the resulting crash program to try to catch up by the US. Portions of this section feel at least a little staged, though it's possible that this is all official footage. The narration is often rather over the top, but it's still worth watching.

This documentary is available as part of a two-disc DVD set, The Race To Space, a ten-part documentary series on the early days of space flight. The film shows its age but the DVD set and this documentary are recommended.

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