Destination Moon. Wow. I didn’t know it was based on a novel by Robert Heinlein. So cool, and you can totally tell. This movie is not full of crazy science errors, which is amazing since it was done in 1950. In fact, if you compare it to the actual moon landing, it’s down right spooky how accurate it is. Let’s review.
America is in a space race, in which the concern is that other nations will base their missiles onto the moon and use it as a launch platform. Sort of unnecessary, because of ballistic missiles, but still an interesting idea. An army General convinces an Aerospace tycoon to join him in an endeavor to launch an atomic rocket to the moon. Using an atomic rocket is not a crazy idea by the way. It’s a little overkill for a moon mission, but if we really want to be serious about sending men to the planets, it’s the only way to fly.
Four men are sent on their way to the moon, where they first encounter zero gravity. Okay, I’ve seen dozens of modern movies where zero gravity is about as cheesy looking as it can get. But these guys really did an awesome job of it back in 1950, considering what they had to work with. Especially when one of the astronauts gets stupid and drops his tether during a spacewalk, and our brave captain uses an oxygen tank as a makeshift rocket engine to retrieve him. Sure, it’s not up to today’s CGI standards, but ask yourself this: Where did they get the idea of the scene in Mission to Mars where the Captain gets stranded out in space? These guys did it back in 1950, and saved the guy. (Mission to Mars sucks, by the way)
They avoid the mid trip disaster and proceed to the landing of the ship. And (almost prophetically) run into the same problem that Armstrong and Aldrin ran into on their landing. The ship comes in fast, levels out and is traveling horizontally looking for a clear place to land but has to land long, using too much fuel. Unlike the real landing, they run way too short on fuel and now have a very very serious problem. They can’t make it back.
Now, our hero’s have to dump every ounce of excess baggage but are still over weight by one man. Our cranky smart mouth crew member (who sounds like a young Gilbert Godfrey) decides to run out and sacrifice himself. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who might want to find out for themselves, so I’ll leave you all hanging there.
Yeah five stars for Destination Moon. Great science, good plot.