6.0/10
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21 user 16 critic

Countdown (1967)

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.

Director:

Robert Altman

Writers:

Loring Mandel (screenplay), Hank Searls (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Caan ... Lee Stegler
Joanna Moore ... Mickey Stegler
Robert Duvall ... Chiz
Barbara Baxley ... Jean
Charles Aidman ... Gus
Steve Ihnat ... Ross Duellan
Michael Murphy ... Rick
Ted Knight ... Walter Larson
Stephen Coit ... Ehrman
John Rayner John Rayner ... Dunc
Charles Irving Charles Irving ... Seidel
Bobby Riha ... 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Moonshot See more »

Filming Locations:

Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film centers on a flight to the moon in a Gemini spacecraft modified for a lunar landing. In fact, there were several proposals in the mid 1960s to use modified Gemini craft for lunar orbital and even lunar landings, in lieu of, or complementing, the Apollo flights. They were rejected for various technical, budgetary, and political reasons. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Chiz: Pilgrim. Pilgrim control. Do you read? Pilgrim. Pilgrim control. Do you read? Pilgrim. Pilgrim control. Do you read? Pilgrim. Pilgrim control. Do you read?
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Connections

Featured in Altman (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Altman's First Time at Bat
28 July 2006 | by evanston_dadSee 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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