Destination Moon (1950) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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.

  • The rocket engineer Dr. Charles Cargraves blows-up a rocket during the tests and loses the government funding. Together with his friends General Thayer and Jim Barnes, they raise funds from American industrialists to build a rocket using atomic engine in the desert to reach the moon. However the public opinion is against the project afraid of radiation leakage in the spot and they decide to anticipate the launch of the spaceship without tests. The radar and radio operator Joe Sweeney is invited and teams-up with them and the rocket is called Luna. During the descent on the moon, they use too much fuel to safely land. After the exploration of the lunar soil, Charles realizes that they need to reduce the weight of the rocket to launch back to Earth based on the remaining fuel. They remove all the essential equipment but Charles concludes that someone must be left behind. Will they return to Earth?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • DESTINATION MOON (1950) was produced by the legendary George Pal (see his WWW.IMDb.Com bio), and was one of the first great full color 1950's sci-fi outer space thrillers which later included WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951), THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955), and FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956).

    The movie is intelligent, interesting, dramatic, and highly informative about basic science facts regarding space travel and the difficulties, challenges part of it.

    By any standard, DESTINATION MOON (1950) is a landmark movie, produced in 1950 which was a high water mark year for world cinema, along with 1939, 1928, and 1956........all years notable for multiple cinema productions of remarkable accomplishment and enduring quality.

    The story is about a successful first flight to the moon, made by four men who travel in a spacecraft built by a private USA company which must take off unexpectedly early because a "court order" has been issued and is about to be delivered to the space travellers STOPPING the trip due to the fact that public opinion is fearful of the consequences of any such effort.

    The four man team learn of the court order and decide to take off early, before govt. officials can "serve them" and stop their departure.

    They take off...three highly educated and renowned men (one a retired Army general, one a famous scientist with a doctorate, one a respected technology executive, and the fourth....played wonderfully by comedian Dick Wesson playing "Joe Sweeny of Brooklyn NY USA".....operates the communications equipment, and portrays a wise-cracking, cowardly "everyman" from Brooklyln who doesn't believe the space ship will ever fly, and is astonished and frightened when it does. He provides comedy relief for the entire story, which is quite welcome and wonderful.)

    The space ship travels to the moon and on the way, a problem develops which requires that crew members go outside of the travelling ship in space suits, and make a repair. One crew member accidentally drifts off into space, but is rescued by another crew member who, creatively, uses an oxygen tank to propel himself to connect with the adrift fellow crew member in danger of being lost in space forever. The rescue scene is all done dramatically and believably, and this is true of additional dramatic moments in the movie. Much of the movie is gripping, and comic moments, well done, are welcome interludes to dramatic crisis parts of DESTINATION MOON (!950).

    The space ship lands on the moon, and the commander claims the moon for the USA on behalf of all mankind in a statement quite similar to the actual statement the first NASA moon landing astronauts made famous in 1969 (the "one small step for man, one giant step for mankind" statement).

    Suddenly, the four moon explorers learn the space ship they need for return to the Earth is too heavily loaded for departure from the moon, and that they need to unload large quantities of equipment and supplies to lighten the ship and make departure possible.

    They pitch out large quantities of "junk" including used oxygen tanks, radios, and other large metal objects, but in the end, not enough has been removed....110 pounds remain!

    All four travellers separately volunteer to remain behind, and one (the comic "Joe Sweeny from Brooklyn") actually leaves the ship and refuses to return so his remaining three comrades can leave safely.

    His sacrifice isn't necessary, however, since the ship commander determines that the remaining radio used for contact with the Earth can also be thrown off the ship, and so can the one space suit held back and worn by Joe Sweeny, once he returns to the ship.

    Sweeny does return to the ship and all four travellers depart successfully from the spacecraft after the radio and space suit are thrown out, and the needed weight removal is accomplished.

    The ship returns to the Earth with all four travellers safely aboard. The final end credit appears over the outer space scene showing the space ship returning from the moon to the earth after the very first space voyage to the moon by people from Earth.

    The final credit for DESTINATION MOON (!950) reads "This is THE END..Of The Beginning."

    DESTINATION MOON (1950) is a landmark science fiction space travel movie, and should be seen by all interested in this genre, and by all interested in high water mark quality cinema movies remarkable for creativity and intelligence.

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