6.0/10
1,737
27 user 19 critic

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.

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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

This movie was based on the book, "The Pilgrim Project", by Hank Searles. See more »

Goofs

Stegler's helmet has no sun visor, which is critical in space. See more »

Quotes

Gus: Lee, you know, there can only be one first man on the moon. You don't have a reason, now. You wouldn't be a martyr - just a possible suicide.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Robert Altman (2001) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Please note this is not science fiction.
23 July 2004 | by Clive-SilasSee all my reviews

A comment on "Marooned", the movie that was made about a moon mission disaster which was released after the Apollo 11 landing but prior to the Apollo 13 real-life disaster, mentioned that the movie is not available on DVD and rarely, if ever, appears on television. I believe that the same is true of this movie (at least regards TV screenings) and it's for the same reason. "Marooned" and "Countdown" are movies that are so much of their period that they scarcely make any sense at all to 21st Century minds. Of course, we all know about the Cold War, and most cold war movies involve international espionage which is timeless.

Countdown is a movie about the Space Race which dominated the daily agenda at least as much as conventional Cold War conflicts like the Korean and Vietnam wars. The plot concerns a situation in which the Soviets succeeded in their aim to send a manned rocket to the Moon before the Americans were ready to fly Apollo. However, contact with the cosmonauts has been lost, and there is still a chance for NASA to fulfill Kennedy's challenge of "sending a man to the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" - as well as the kudos gained from discovering and being the ones to tell the Soviets what happened to their men.

An interesting sideline on this is that the actually successful method of moon exploration used, ie send three men to lunar orbit and then two can travel to the surface in a smaller ship, is certainly not the only solution, and this movie explores a different one forced by necessity. Since Apollo is not ready and there is no lunar lander capable of taking off from the moon, why not send a less complex ship with only one man, and let him stay on the moon, kept alive by an environment habitat sent on ahead by unmanned rocket and by provision of supplies by further unmanned ships? Such a scenario had already been envisioned by science fiction authors like Arthur C. Clarke as being the most efficient way to explore our satellite. Certainly nobody had previously imagined that we would send men to the Moon for a matter of a few days in a ship which could not carry more than a few hundred pounds of samples back to Earth. By exploring this other methodology this movie succeeds in highlighting the true nature of our Lunar adventure. The point was not to expand the human frontier or to increase the sum of scientific knowledge - the point was to get a man on the moon and safely back before the Russians did.


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