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Countdown (1967)

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



(screenplay), (novel)

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Complete credited cast:
John Rayner ...
Charles Irving ...
Stevie Stegler (as Bobby Riha Jr.)


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

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


Sci-Fi | Thriller


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Release Date:

February 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Moonshot  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mike Farrell plays a bit part as a Houston engineer. He played Captain B.J. Hunnicutt on the television series M*A*S*H (1972), which was based on Director Robert Altman's breakout film, MASH (1970). See more »


We see the launch of astronaut Lee Stegler's solo trip to the moon in a standard Gemini capsule atop a Titan II launch vehicle. However, when showing the Gemini capsule on the moon, it sits atop large square descent stage that extends several feet beyond the diameter of the capsule. The descent stage would have been visible protruding from the capsule and launch vehicle during blast-off, but was not. See more »


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 »


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User Reviews

He's Cut The Cord! He Can't Come Back!
30 May 2006 | by See all my reviews

**SPOILERS** Made on a shoe-string budget "Countdown" is by far the movie with the best depiction of a flight to the Lunar surface then any of the previous "Flight to the Moon" films going as far back as the early 1900's. The movie went from science fiction to science fact in just under two years after it's release in early 1968 with the historic three manned Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Trying to become the first nation to put a man on the Moon the US has NASA set a mission to the Lunar surface to beat the USSR. It's supposed to be done with the astronaut sated for that historic mission to be a civilian. Air Force fighter pilot Chiz Stewart, Robert Duvall,who was hoping to be chosen for the Moon Mission is terribly upset by being eliminated because of his military background. Stewart become very hostile towards his friend Lee Stegler, James Caan, a civilian worker for NASA for getting picked for the flight christened, or designated by NASA, Pilgrim One.

Taking out his frustrations on Lee Chiz, who's in charge of training for the Moon Mission, does everything he can to have him wash out of the program. Not just because of sour grapes but because Chiz like Lee's wife Mckey, Joanna Cook Moore,feel that he's doesn't have the experience as an astronaut to handle this very dangerous assignment. On top of that Lee, being the egomaniac that he is, will end up getting himself killed on the mission because of his obsession the be the first man on the moon even if it kills him.

Just days before Lee is to blast off there's news from the Soviet Union that the Russians sent a three man crew into obit and that it would land on the Moon before the USA planned Moon shot. That still doesn't have Pilgrim One suspended with those at NASA feeling that the news may very well be a rumor. To keep them form launching the Moon Mission, by the sneaky and conniving Soviets.

Sent into space the next morning from Cape Kennedy in Florida Pilgrim One has major problems as it goes into the Moons trajectory because of a power loss during the take-off. With Chiz, at the controls at the NASA Space Center in Huston, walking Lee through the dangerous complexities of the space mission he makes it to within 200 miles from the surface of the Moon.

On the Moon NASA had two weeks earlier landed and unmanned space shelter with a rotating red beacon that Lee is to first identify and then to land, as close as possible, next to it. At the shelter there's enough air water and food to last two months. It's then when NASA would send an Apollo manned space capsule to pick up Lee and bring him back safely home to earth.

It turned out that Chiz and Mickey's worse fears were realized with Lee not wanting to have the mission aborted and sent back to earth, without being the first man on the Moon, taking his chances in landing Pilgrim One despite not really knowing if it was withing site of the NASA shelter. Which, with only two hours of air in his space suit, was almost curtain death for him.

Walking through the unknown wilderness that's the Lunar surface Lee discovers that the USSR indeed landed a manned space mission on the Moon before the USA. Lee also finds out that the three man crew were killed as it crashed, instead of landed, on impact.

With the air in his space suit almost exhausted Lee looking at his watch, which told him that he had only seven minutes of oxygen left, notices a bilking red flash reflecting off the glass back at him! Looking straight ahead Lee sees the NASA space shelter, which was Lee's only chance of surviving, with it's red rotating identification lamp guiding him straight to it.

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