When a spaceship lands on the moon, it is hailed as a new accomplishment, before it becomes clear that a Victorian party completed the journey in 1899, leading investigators to that mission's last survivor.
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Based on the HG Wells story. The world is delighted when a space craft containing a crew made up of the world's astronauts lands on the moon, they think for the first time. But the delight turns to shock when the astronauts discover an old British flag and a document declaring that the moon is taken for Queen Victoria proving that the astronauts were not the first men on the moon. On Earth, an investigation team finds the last of the Victorian crew - a now aged Arnold Bedford and he tells them the story of how he and his girlfriend, Katherine Callender, meet up with an inventor, Joseph Cavor, in 1899. Cavor has invented Cavorite, a paste that will allow anything to deflect gravity and he created a sphere that will actually take them to the moon. Taking Arnold and accidentally taking Katherine they fly to the moon where, to their total amazement, they discover a bee-like insect population who take an unhealthy interest in their Earthly visitors... Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
Judging by the comments of my fellow IMDb contributers it seems FIRST MEN IN THE MOON is a film that doesn't cheat the memory . If for example you loved this movie as a kid you'll still love it as an adult . I'm afraid I have to disagree with this groundswell of opinion because I too loved this movie as a child but watching it again today I came very close to switching it off on a couple of occasions
Why ? Well let's look at the story structure . The opening contains a hook of the first manned flight to the moon where a British union flag is found and it's discovered that Senior citizen Arnold Bedford was in fact part of an expedition who had visited the moon several decades earlier . So far so good but then the film spends almost a whole hour back in Victorian England setting up the characters of Bedford , eccentric inventor Joseph Carvor and Kate Callender . You'll spend most of this running time trying to work out if Carvor is more irritating than Kate in much the same way as historians debate if Stalin was a worse dictator than Hitler . It's not helped by the performances of Jeffries and Hyer
Things do radically improve when the trio take a long awaited trip to the moon and it's very easy to see why so many people fondly remember this film . You could complain that the selenites are obviously small of stature ( Child ? ) actors dressed in cloth , some of the sets are unconvincing etc but at least director Nathan Juran has tried - And to a certain degree succeeded - in bringing a sense of wonder to the movie . It should also be pointed out that the special effects are very impressive for their day and still hold up well . Also take note of the eldritch sound effects for some of the scenes set in the selenite base and the chilling voice of the Grand Lunar
This is certainly a film of two halves and its glowing reputation is all down to the second half . It's also a film where the effects from Ray Harryhausen are more important than the story structure . It's a film that will almost certainly disappoint fans of the original novel and will equally disappoint fans of co-writer Nigel Kneale whose work here lacks the compelling intelligence of much of his other work
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