6.0/10
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20 user 16 critic

Countdown (1967)

Unrated | | Sci-Fi, Thriller | February 1968 (USA)
Desperate to reach the moon first, NASA sends a man and shelter separately, one-way. He must find it to survive; he can't return until Apollo is ready.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Chiz
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...
Gus
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Rick
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Walter Larson
...
Ehrman
John Rayner ...
Dunc
Charles Irving ...
Seidel
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Stevie Stegler (as Bobby Riha Jr.)
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Storyline

When the U.S. learns the Soviets are about to launch a manned mission to the moon, they feel it imperative that they get there first. The moon program isn't ready to launch yet so they decide to send one man in a modified Gemini capsule that will be able to land on the moon. The astronaut will have to stay there for up to a year - in a special built shelter that will be sent ahead of time - until an Apollo mission can rescue him. The obvious choice for the mission is Chiz, who knows the Gemini inside out but the Soviets are sending civilians, not military men, so geologist Lee Stegler is asked to go. He has only three weeks however to learn about the intricacies of the spacecraft and no one is sure if he will make it. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The motion picture that puts a man on the moon ... and you will follow him every terrifying second of the way ... See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

February 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Moonshot  »

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Technical Specs

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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This marked Robert Altman's return to feature films after toiling in TV for 10 years. See more »

Goofs

The story takes place in Florida but there are hills and low mountains in the background of many exterior scenes (except for the ones actually showing launch pad at the NASA Space Center at Cape Canaveral). The highest elevation in Florida is only 345 feet and it is only 10 feet above sea level at Cape Canaveral. See more »

Quotes

Lee Stegler: If I don't make this trip, Mick; then, who the hell am I? Forgive me. Forgive me.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Altman (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Please note this is not science fiction.
23 July 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

A comment on "Marooned", the movie that was made about a moon mission disaster which was released after the Apollo 11 landing but prior to the Apollo 13 real-life disaster, mentioned that the movie is not available on DVD and rarely, if ever, appears on television. I believe that the same is true of this movie (at least regards TV screenings) and it's for the same reason. "Marooned" and "Countdown" are movies that are so much of their period that they scarcely make any sense at all to 21st Century minds. Of course, we all know about the Cold War, and most cold war movies involve international espionage which is timeless.

Countdown is a movie about the Space Race which dominated the daily agenda at least as much as conventional Cold War conflicts like the Korean and Vietnam wars. The plot concerns a situation in which the Soviets succeeded in their aim to send a manned rocket to the Moon before the Americans were ready to fly Apollo. However, contact with the cosmonauts has been lost, and there is still a chance for NASA to fulfill Kennedy's challenge of "sending a man to the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" - as well as the kudos gained from discovering and being the ones to tell the Soviets what happened to their men.

An interesting sideline on this is that the actually successful method of moon exploration used, ie send three men to lunar orbit and then two can travel to the surface in a smaller ship, is certainly not the only solution, and this movie explores a different one forced by necessity. Since Apollo is not ready and there is no lunar lander capable of taking off from the moon, why not send a less complex ship with only one man, and let him stay on the moon, kept alive by an environment habitat sent on ahead by unmanned rocket and by provision of supplies by further unmanned ships? Such a scenario had already been envisioned by science fiction authors like Arthur C. Clarke as being the most efficient way to explore our satellite. Certainly nobody had previously imagined that we would send men to the Moon for a matter of a few days in a ship which could not carry more than a few hundred pounds of samples back to Earth. By exploring this other methodology this movie succeeds in highlighting the true nature of our Lunar adventure. The point was not to expand the human frontier or to increase the sum of scientific knowledge - the point was to get a man on the moon and safely back before the Russians did.


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