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 ... See full summary »


Irving Pichel


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





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


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


UP UP UP Seven miles a second See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


James O'Hanlon was hired by a producer to rewrite the script, and produced an atrocity. Pichel, the director, had final cut in his contract, and threw out almost everything O'Hanlon wrote. See more »


A radio announcer explains, "It takes three seconds ... for radio waves to travel between the Earth and Moon." In fact it's 1.3 sec each way, but the round-trip causes delays of almost 3 sec in conversation, which probably is what the announcer meant. See more »


[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 »


Featured in The Last Picture Show (1971) See more »

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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Release Date:

August 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Destination Moon See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

George Pal Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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