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Destination Moon (1950)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi | August 1950 (USA)
Trailer
2:05 | Trailer

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One of the first science fiction films to attempt a high level of accurate technical detail tells the story of the first trip to the Moon.

Director:

Irving Pichel

Writers:

Alford Van Ronkel (written for the screen by) (as Rip Van Ronkel), Robert A. Heinlein (written for the screen by) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Archer ... Jim Barnes
Warner Anderson ... Dr. Charles Cargraves
Tom Powers ... General Thayer
Dick Wesson ... Joe Sweeney
Erin O'Brien-Moore ... Emily Cargraves
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Storyline

After their latest rocket fails, Dr. Charles Cargraves and retired General Thayer have to start over again. This time, Gen. Thayer approaches Jim Barnes, the head of his own aviation construction firms to help build a rocket that will take them to the moon. Together they gather the captains of industry and all pledge to support the goals of having the United States be the first to put a man on the moon. They build their rocket and successfully leave the Earth's gravitational pull and make the landing as scheduled. Barnes has miscalculated their fuel consumption however and after stripping the ship bare, they are still 100 lbs too heavy meaning that one of them will have to stay behind. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

UP UP UP Seven miles a second See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

August 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Destination Moon See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$5,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

George Pal Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The twelfth episode of the NBC radio series "Dimension X" was entitled "Destination Moon" and was based on Robert A. Heinlein's final draft of the film's shooting script. During the broadcast on June 24, 1950, the programme was interrupted by a news bulletin announcing that North Korea had declared war on South Korea, marking the beginning of the Korean War. See more »

Goofs

When Barnes attempts to rescue Cargraves, who has fallen away from the ship during the antenna repair, he uses a bottle of pressurized gas as a makeshift rocket to propel him to the point where he can retrieve him. However, the gas exhaust from the bottle is nowhere near Barnes' center of gravity, thus the expelled gas would simply flip him end over end. See more »

Quotes

[Why the government isn't involved if it's so important]
Jim Barnes: Here's the reason. The vast amount of brains, talents, special skills, and research facilities necessary for this project are not in the government, nor can they be mobilized by the government in peacetime without fatal delay. Only American industry can do this job. And American industry must get to work, now, just as we did in the last war!
Industrialist: Yes, but the government footed the bill!
Jim Barnes: And they'll foot this bill, too, if we're successful; you ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the film, a story of the first flight to the Moon, the words THIS IS THE END are displayed first, then OF THE BEGINNING is added. See more »

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User Reviews

Technicolor prophecy of Things to Come!
11 November 2001 | by Bruce_CookSee all my reviews

Science fiction gets the deluxe treatment for the first time in history (except for `Things to Come' and `Metropolis'). This is a big-budget, technicolor production from producer George Pal and director Irving Pichel, with Leith Stevens music (`When Worlds Collide', `War of the Worlds' , others), Chesley Bonestell matt paintings, and Oscar-winning special effects supervised by Lee Zavitz. Stop motion animation scenes of the astronauts walking on the hull of the ship were directed by John S. Abbott. The fine script was penned by Rip Van Ronkel, James O'Hanlon, and veteran sci-fi author Robert Heinlein.

The cast includes John Archer as the millionaire industrialist, Warner Anderson as the designer of the rocket, Dick Wessson as the wise-cracking radio operator, and Tom Powers as the visionary general. (Note: this is not the same Tom Powers who stars in `Unidentified Flying Objects' in 1956).

Although many reviewers connect `Destination Moon' with Heinlein's novel `Rocketship Galileo', the film's story has much more in common with Heinlein's novelette `The Man Who Sold the Moon', also published in 1950. The novelette, like the film, spotlights private industry as the sponsor of the Moon trip. John Archer's industrialist is an eerie parallel to Howard Hughes, whose company actually did build the Apollo space crafts!

Heinlein actually published a THIRD Moon-trip story in 1950, a novelette featured in the September issue of `Short Stories Magazine' under the title `Destination Moon'. This version is so similar to the film, it was probably intended as a promotional piece, but it does include one fascinating story element not in the film. The explorers find evidence of previous lunar visitors -- either Russians or aliens, they aren't sure which!

While planning the famous E.V.A . rescue scene (in which an oxygen bottle is used as a makeshift propulsion unit) the film makers considered using a shotgun as the means by which John Archer retrieves Warner Anderson when he drifts away from the rocket in space. Thankfully they changed their minds; a shotgun seems like an inappropriate piece of equipment to take to a lifeless, airless satellite. However, the shotgun concept was used in the final film during Woody Woodpecker's cartoon demonstration of rocket propulsion, which is shown to the millionaire industrialists who finance the Moon trip.

Chesley Bonestell, famed artist of the celestial realm, provided matt paintings and designed the lunar surface (which had not been photographed up close at that time, so the film makers had to make some guesses).

Art director Ernst Fegte added the fractured lava bed feature which resembled a cracked lake bottom. The cracks diminish in scale as they recede from the camera, creating a forced perspective which enhanced the depth of the set.

This blend of technical accuracy and artistic excellence is the key to the success of `Destination Moon'. No wonder it almost single-handedly started the 1950s sci-fi craze of the 1950s. The film has a strong flavor of `The Right Stuff' (brave men doing a tough job). If you appreciated stories which portray heroism and the nobility of the human spirit, `Destination Moon' is your kind of movie.


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