6.8/10
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161 user 75 critic

Capricorn One (1977)

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A NASA Mars mission won't work, and its funding is endangered, so they decide to fake it just this once. But then they have to keep the secret.

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5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Robert Caulfield
... Charles Brubaker
... Kay Brubaker
... Peter Willis
... John Walker
... Dr. James Kelloway
... Judy Drinkwater
... Albain
... Hollis Peaker
... Walter Loughlin
... Sharon Willis
... Betty Walker
... Elliot Whitter
... Control Room Man (as Jim Sikking)
... Capsule Communicator
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Storyline

Charles Brubaker is the astronaut leading NASA's first manned mission to Mars. Seconds before the launch, the entire team is pulled from the capsule and the rocket leaves earth unmanned much to Brubaker's anger. The head of the programme explains that the life support system was faulty and that NASA can't afford the publicity of a scratched mission. The plan is to fake the Mars landing and keep the astronauts at a remote base until the mission is over, but then investigative journalist Robert Caulfield starts to suspect something. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most important event in our nation's history...what if it never really happened? See more »

Genres:

Action | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

2 June 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Capricornio Uno  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs

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(35 mm magnetic prints)| (70 mm prints)| (35 mm optical prints)

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During his interview in the 2016 ESPN documentary O.J.: Made in America, Capricorn One director Peter Hyams admitted that the studio had given him a mandate to cast O.J. Simpson as John Walker. Hyams said, "I thought there were worthy African American actors who had paid their dues as actors, who had shown their talent. My first choice was either Robert Hooks or Bernie Casey, so my reaction was less than enthusiastic. I had seen The Towering Inferno (1974). I thought [Simpson's acting ability] was not going to frighten Daniel Day-Lewis. O. J. was a celebrity of enormous stature, and somebody who had not shown the chops to play the part. My goal was to see if I could make this guy work for what I wanted. It came time to do his last scene. He's a guy who's parched and delusional. So rather than him acting somebody who was desperately thirsty, I put appliances on his face that made it difficult for him to move and difficult to talk, and it just made him sound like he was in desperate trouble. And he was pretty good. You know, what can I say? He was a charming, terrific guy, he was a positive guy, he tried very hard, and it was clear that he saw a future for himself in film." See more »

Goofs

When the astronauts get into the Learjet, they are able to start the aircraft engines right away. In reality, unless it had an auxiliary power unit, they would have needed ground equipment to get the engines started. See more »

Quotes

Kay Brubaker: You haven't found what you're looking for. You're embarrassed about bothering me again. However, there are one or two questions more you'd like to ask me. It's something personal and you won't bother me any more.
Robert Caulfield: I haven't found what I'm looking for. I feel embarrassed about bothering you again. However, there are one or two more questions I'd like to ask you. It's something personal and I won't bother you any more.
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User Reviews

 
Capricorn One: a real Gem-ini of a movie. I'm Apollo-ed that it's not rated higher.
17 August 2014 | by See all my reviews

"Capricorn One" is one of the last great 70s thrillers, alongside "The China Syndrome", "The Andromeda Strain", "Coma", heck maybe even "The Exorcist". Perhaps taking their cues from Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange, etc), all of these classics are presented with an artistic, slightly off-kilter, brightly creepy vibe that encapsulated the end of 60s flower-power optimism and the beginning of 70s cold cynicism.

Stylistic examples include wide angle shots and slow, mechanical camera movements that give the viewer a disturbing feeling of voyeurism or disconnection from humanity (à la "Open the pod bay doors, Hal." "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid can't do that."). This quiet yet bone-chilling style is the opposite of MTV-type filmmaking which made heavy use of flashy, closeup, disorienting camera shots cut together so quickly that you feel like someone slipped some magic pixie dust in your Kool-Aid. No, the 70s classics, in particular "Capricorn One" and other films by Peter Hyams, instead give you long, deliberate shots from a distance, allowing you to absorb every bizarre detail that was meticulously laid out for you.

If you get bored easily, then this isn't for you. But if you're looking for a film that slowly reels you in without any gimmicks, carefully building momentum for the 1st hour leading to an explosive, roller-coaster finale, then look no further. It's best if you know nothing about the story, so I won't say anything about the plot except that it centers around a mission to Mars. But this is not a sci-fi flick, it's closer to a political thriller.

"Capricorn One" won't necessarily scare the pants off you like some of the other films, but the story will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what's going to happen. The director never telegraphs the ending, so you're never quite sure if things will turn out good or if it'll be a miserable tragedy. You have to ride it out to the very last scene.

Two things won me over immediately. First is the careful, artistic approach to cinematography which is evident in the opening scene: a slow rusty sunrise behind the colossal silhouette of the Capricorn spacecraft. Many other shots are as powerful, whether they're outdoors or indoors. Hyams frequently does a neat little trick where he establishes a shot and leaves the camera where it is but slowly, over the course of 2 minutes or more, moves the camera in or out of the action, creating a thick suspense.

The 2nd thing that won me over was something many thrillers overlook: HUMOR. There are some priceless scenes that had me rolling, and it's all due to the great script and lines delivered by great actors. Telly Savalas makes an appearance as a grumpy old airplane pilot, and his rapid fire volley of dialogue with Elliot Gould is like something straight out of a Cary Grant-Catherine Hepburn comedy. Another hilarious rapid-fire comedic scene is Elliot Gould arguing with his boss, played by David Doyle ("Bosley" on the original Charlie's Angels). Big laughs without disrupting the tension of the story. It takes a bold filmmaker to put such comedy in a serious film, and Hyams & his acting troupe succeeded brilliantly.

A final note that's worth mentioning: there's a scene where a snake meets with an unfortunate fate. While the snake is real (hats off to James Brolin for having the guts do the scene), the snake's stunt double was a dead carcass they had found. No snakes were harmed. So animal lovers as well as 70s thriller lovers, have no fear. Once you start watching "Capricorn One", nothing will make you Sat-turn the channel! (wow that was lame)


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