Project Moonbase
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  • Wretched/Quaint by modern standards, but...
    As a 1953 follow-on to the 1950 Destination Moon (see also), this work is interesting in that it features the va-va-va-voom Donna Martell as Heinlein's typically strong but ultimately submissive female lead. Not necessarily bad unless you're a feminist, I guess; still she, like other Heinlein heroines, comes across sharp as a tack compared to the rather obtuse hammer-sack jocks she's compelled to work with.

    The paternal commander played by Hayden Rorke (aka Dr. Bellows in I Dream of Jeannie) is obviously a stand-in for Heinlein himself -- think of SiaSL's Jubal Harshaw in uniform -- who bizarrely shows his kink in threatening to spank his unruly female subordinate. Definitely creepy.

    This work anticipates Kubrick's 2001 etc by 15 odd years, but scans like the other straightforward, stiffly acted clunky space operas typical of the time. The plot and situations are adult and so I would not recommend this movie for preteens....more info

  • Fun to watch, but only because it is fantastically bad.
    This is quite possibly the worst screenplay ever; loose ends abound. It plays like a dream which jumps from one plot element to the next and never returns. Add to this the ho-hum acting, and you'd expect a really rotten movie. However, it is worth watching at least once for its visual effects which were quite good for the early 1950's. Between the silliness of the script and the interesting space effects, I'd recommend this movie for anyone who ever intentionally watched 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' and enjoyed it....more info
  • Silly Sci-fi Fun
    Okay, this has got to be among the top two silliest 50s science fiction movies I've ever seen! Does that mean I don't like it? No. I really like it. I just think it's super-silly, and that's what makes it fun. And heck, I, for one, think Ms. Breiteis (pronounced Bright Eyes) is really cute. This is one credit Hayden Rorke probably wished wasn't on his resume', though. Wait 'til you see the get-up he gets to wear! Still, although this doesn't even approach the top-knotch writing, directing, and acting of the best of the 50s sci-fi flicks (and there were quite a few good ones), it's an enjoyable nostalgia piece.

    The video transfer is super-crisp. I mean, the original print must have been hermetically sealed (did I spell that right?) and sitting in an air-tight jar on Funk and Wagnall's climate-controlled front porch since the late 50s. Audio and video are excellent. There's nothing silly about the technical aspects of this DVD -- which is a whole lot more than can be said for the plot (and the directing, and the acting, and ...).

    Bottom line, once you've collected the sci-fi classics of the Eisenhower decade, pop for this one ... or ... if you're a real "camp" fan, buy this one first. It comes recommended by me!...more info
  • Leadership, For a Change
    An expedition sets out in 1970 to orbit and survey the Moon while setting a foundation for future U.S. missions. But a mechanical problem forces the craft to land on the Moon's surface and the race is on to solve several mysteries - that includes espionage and plans in the Soviet Union to derail the U.S. project - while rescuing the astronauts.

    Author Robert A. Heinlein co-wrote the screenplay (based on a story he penned), with the "film" - edited pieces of an unsold Sci-Fi television series, Ring Around the Moon - being released in 1953. Directed by Richard Talmadge, it features women in a variety of top leadership positions - on the mission and in politics - while exploring the possibilities of space travel in a realistic manner.

    Through the Sci-Fi genre, it ultimately is a neat peek into the concept of leadership - for a change - through a superpower rivalry on Earth that takes spycraft into outer space....more info
  • Gorgeous DVD of essential 1950s space opera
    Somehow this movie never played on TV in my locale (Milwaukee/Chicago) when I was a horror-crazed kid (unlike apparently every other cheap SF flick of the period). For fans of low-budget 1950s space operas this is a terrific find. Project Moonbase neatly straddles the fence between "serious" science-fact specimens such as Destination Moon or Riders to the Stars and tacky "babes in space" fare like Cat Women of the Moon or Queen of Outer Space. It shares a similar look and feel with all those films and other typical titles of the era from Astor, Allied Artists, UA, and other independents, such as Missile to the Moon, Fire Maidens of Outer Space, War of the Satellites, etc. Co-written by pioneering modern SF icon Robert Heinlein (Destination Moon, The Puppet Masters, Starship Troopers) and low-budget western producer Jack Seaman, PM contains enough sober "speculative fiction"/rocketry tech stuff to satisfy hardware geeks as well as plenty of cool atomic-age design and forehead-slap-inducing sexism ("I ought to turn you over my knee and spank you") for irony-wallowing bad cinema fanatics. `Genre' names peppering the credits include director Richard Talmadge (the silent movie star, stunt man, and 2nd unit director); Ed Wood's house cinematographer, William C. Thompson, and makeup man, Harry Thomas (unfortunately no one gets their face burned off with acid in this); former Columbia art director Jerome Pycha (Riders to the Stars, Unknown Island, Prehistoric Women), and future director (Cry Baby Killer, Twilight Zone, Lost in Space) Justus Addiss.
    The year is 1970, the United States has a floating space platform, and the government is about to embark on exploration of the moon. The Russkies, who look and sound like Midwestern businessmen, find out, and decide to sabotage the operation by commandeering one of our spaceships and crashing it into the space station. To accomplish this, they infiltrate the mission with one of their 350 (!!) Exact Doubles of Prominent Scientists that they just happen to have lying around. After some talky explanations of gravitational principles by General "Pappy" Greene (Hayden Rorke, I Dream of Jeannie's Dr. Bellows), Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford), and Colonel Briteis (pronounced "bright-eyes," cringe now) played by Donna Martell (Rocky Jones: Space Ranger) are selected, along with the doubled Dr. Wernher, for the mission to observe the dark side of the moon, much to their mutual consternation. See, Maj. Moore and Col. Briteis used to be an item . . . . During these set-up scenes it seems like you're in for one of those dry Gog type of flicks, but hang in there, things start to pick up once the space flight gets underway. For some reason they scream and sweat profusely on takeoff (?!), and they all wear easily the silliest uniforms ever seen, comprised of tee shirts, short shorts, big honking belt buckles, and demure felt aviators' caps, which look cute on Ms. Martell but laughable on everyone else. Once they arrive at the space station we get a docking-with-the-space-wheel sequence, crazily angled sets, some (intentionally?) hilarious scenes of crewmembers matter-of-factly walking on ceilings and sitting on walls, and "please don't walk on the walls" signs posted in the corridors. (These scenes are strangely prescient of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey; could this be one of the dozens of SF flicks he screened while preparing his masterpiece?). Bill, Col. Briteis, and the fake Dr. Wernher take off from the station on the observation mission, Bill suspects Dr. Wernher's true identity (he's unfamiliar with the Brooklyn Dodgers!), they're eventually forced to ditch their craft on the Moon, and Bill and Wernher go EVA to set up a communications relay. Throughout all this we get lots of nicely realized spaceship and moonscape sequences, conceptually on par or better than anything in a comparably-budgeted movie, forgiving a few laughably obvious gaffes. I also love how it appears that people on the ship's view screen seem to be simply sitting behind a hole in the wall, and late-night TV junkies will fondly nostalgia-trip on the B&W "target" test pattern they occasionally display. It all climaxes (spoiler alert) with an incredible only-in-the-50s "family values" denouement wherein the downed craft is proclaimed Moonbase #1; the now-clinching Bill and Briteis are "ordered" to get married by Dr. Bellows, er, General Greene since they'll be cohabiting on the Moon until a rescue mission can be mounted; the president of the United States turns out to be a woman (!!); and Maj. Moore jumps Col. Briteis just as the closing titles fill the screen. While not as patently ludicrous as Cat Women, Fire Maidens, or Queen of Outer Space, Project Moonbase is similarly bent in its own unique way, and easily as entertaining (the 63 minutes fly by). Fans of cheap B&W 50s space epics cannot fail to be entertained. Highly recommended.
    This is another in Image's generally outstanding Wade Williams Collection and doesn't fail to impress. For a movie of its poverty-stricken pedigree the print is spectacular, with excellent black level, contrast, and brightness; rich gray values and crisp shadow/highlight detail; and virtually no damage save some very light speckling and spotting. As near to pristine (as claimed on the case) as could possibly be expected. The only extras are 12 chapter stops and a lightly speckled and lined but otherwise very nice looking trailer. A bare-bones yet essential addition to the DVD library of any 1950s SF aficionado....more info
  • Good vs Evil
    A nice simple old fashioned film made for enjoyment and to say the good guys win. I enjoy it for simple entertainment. There are no monsters coming to slice and dice everyone, there are no super CGI effects. And for those who care about such things - A man and a woman are equals. Both are traveling in space and end on the moon....more info
  • A very mixed bag to watch
    A very mixed bag of things to watch. Women astronauts at a time when the government wouldn't even consider such a thing, cordless phones (maybe the inventor got the idea here), people walking on the floor AND the ceiling in the space station(I liked that).Cartoon character Commie spies and doubles, grade school kid quality lunar landing(hadn't these people ever heard of using a wire to lower the model?), inconsistent treatment of women in the script (respectful then patronizing). The cheap spacesuits bothered me but I did think it was interesting the way they simulated lowering the astronauts to the surface of the moon, I just wish their little model men had been a little higher quality. Better than Rocketship X-M....more info
  • A lot of fun to watch...
    It is a hoot. A silly but enjoyable piece of work from start to finish. The special effects (produced by an old friend)are fun to look at. The 1950s good guys (Americans) against the bad guys (communist)shows an interesting little piece of the American social world then. Worth the price just for the fun it supplies....more info
  • Fun! -- and see --
    Super-advanced technology -- from astronauts in shorts (because one is a woman, and this was written by hypersexist Robert Heinlein), to 1950's-style Big Bullet Boobs (tm), to my favorite technological advance of all time/s! --

    the "gravitometer" -- so sensitive it even measures gravity during weightlessness!

    Don't miss this (unless watching one's diet concerning cholesterol-rich cheese) or "God" will be angry!
    ...more info
  • Not bad
    As long as you remember when it was written - before 1953 - this is a fun, empty-headed little romp in space, with cold war (ohh, those naughty Enemies of Freedom!) references and a (brace yourself) moon landing! The scientific accuracy is a cut above most movies of the time; the plot and acting are not worse than usual for the era and genre (keep in mind that the usual was Teenagers From Space). The female lead looks good in shorts, but is not very believable as career military. (Neither is the general, who even in the 50's might have raised some eyebrows talking about spanking young women.) People demanding modern political correctness in their sexual politics should look elsewhere (probably, they should avoid 1950's Sci Fi in general). The rest of us will be entertained in solid B movie fashion, if pleasantly appalled at a few points....more info
    By 1970 the United States has put a station in space, and now we govern the heavens and keep an eye on our enemies - The Soviets, and keep them in line... but we have never landed a man on the Moon... much less a woman. Ahead of it's time, but hampered by a poor script, a television running time (only 63 mins) and some often dead on effects mixed with some dead wrong ones as well (check out the hand that lands the supply rocket on the moon... classic), this film is an overlooked gem that is worth watching at least once just to see both the far reaching ideas (the first person in space is a woman - yeah! The only reason why she was... she weighed less than a man... boo! A female President- yeah!), and the often disturbing relations between male and female (Col. Briteis - pronounced by everyone as "Bright Eyes", years before Zira named Col. Taylor the same - our spunky female hero is threatened by the station commander with a sound spanking if she dosen't grow up... and then of course there is that ending). It's uneven, odd, but compelling... if you're a collector of Sci-Fi then this is a must for your library....more info