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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
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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:

From the director of "The Player" and "Nashville" comes a screen space adventure that's the real stuff. See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

February 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Moonshot  »

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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

When explaining the medical telemetry to Mickey Stegler, the doctor says one plot is respiration and another is breathing, even though both words mean the same thing. Also, several of the plots have completely different shapes from what they should. See more »

Quotes

Lee Stegler: You'd be surprised what a space shot can do.
Mickey Stegler: Move the world, I heard. Can you spend the night?
Lee Stegler: Nah, not all night, no.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Robert Altman (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Altman's First Time at Bat
28 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Countdown," Robert Altman's first theatrical release, is the only film I've seen by the prolific director that feels nothing like an Altman project. A bit of history surrounding it reveals that Altman battled the studios over creative control, and that the final version of the film exists more as a product of the studio than of the auteur. Never again, for better or worse, would Altman relinquish control of his films, a tenacity that won him an instantly recognizable style not afforded to many other directors.

So "Countdown" isn't terribly interesting formally and feels like it could have been directed by anybody, but that's not to say it isn't an interesting movie. Released a year before man actually landed on the moon, it provides a remarkably accurate guess at what such a feat would look like, and the film is played with conviction by a strong cast of actors led by James Caan, Robert Duvall and Michael Murphy. Duvall and Murphy would appear again in "MASH," and Murphy would go on to become an Altman regular. Barbara Baxley, known to Altman devotees as Haven Hamilton's wife in "Nashville," fulfills wifely duties in this film as well, though women may as well not even exist for all the attention the screenplay affords them.

As a studio film, "Countdown" isn't half bad. As an Altman film, it's one of his weakest. But nevertheless, it's well worth seeking out, especially for fans of the iconoclastic director.

Grade: B-


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