Conquest of Space (Widescreen)
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After the spectacular "When Worlds Collide" and "War of the Worlds", George Pal returned to the almost "semi-documentary" style of his first big feature, which heralded the 50s sci-fi boom, "Destination Moon". Stationed above the earth in a huge, wheel-shaped space station, a group of astronauts prepare to fly a spaceship to the moon. They are then notified of a change in plan--the moon is no longer the target--they are to undertake a much longer, and more perilous journey to the planet Mars.
There are no big stars in this film--clearly most of the budget went on special effects. Most of the actors are quite stoic, including faces familiar to fans of vintage television--actors like Eric Fleming, William Hopper and Ross Martin. The leader of the expedition, General Merritt, is played by Walter Brooke, a no-nonsense commander who goes by the book, although he actually finds himself turning to the "good book". He finds strength in the Bible, although it creates doubts in his mind about Man's right to invade new worlds. Mickey Shaughnessy over-acts outrageously as Sergeant Mahoney, a stereotypical, emotional Irish American--although his performance is actually a welcome contrast to that of most of the other actors.
One other performance of note--Benson Fong plays Imoto, the Japanese member of the crew.Read more ›
Never has the screen shown--before or since!--a better starscape than this picture (no, not even FORBIDDEN PLANET, 2001, or STAR WARS). The opening moments show a classic round von Braun space station hanging and spinning in space with an interplanetary vehicle parked nearby. Space has never been so black, nor the stars so scintillating. The score by Van Cleave underscores the sense of wonder--both eerie and majestic--inherent in these scenes.
I first saw CONQUEST OF SPACE when I was ten. This was at a time when our local theater ran Saturday "Kiddie Mantinees" for 25 cents admission during the '50s when the feature was almost always a science-fiction movie. That's how I saw INVADERS FROM MARS, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH and others for the first time. As much as I was thrilled by these movies, the one that touched me the most was CONQUEST OF SPACE.
Fast forward to the '80s and '90s. The only VHS version of the film that I'm aware of could not be more terrible. The blacks are washed out due to the positively poor resolution of the tape. Even more disappointing, when the opening title sequence begins a few minutes after the start of the film, the image on the pan-and-scan VHS suddenly and unaccountably reduces in size so that the titles run in a foreshortened box surrounded by black bars on all sides. As soon as "Directed By" finishes, the movie jumps back to fill the standard TV screen.Read more ›
This film is an example of great 50's sci-fi from special effects wizard and producer George Pal. The space scenes hold up well for me and are not corny at all 50 years later. I still get excited watching the space wheel over a decade before Kubricks 2001 version. There are no hokey monsters or aliens in rubber suits here, man is his own worst enemy. This movie goes far beyond most sci-fi films of its time, exploring many issues of the human spirit for exploration in the face of danger. For one thing, it has an international cast to people the space station and the mission that it launches to Mars. There is discussion of the danger ahead, disagreements, accusations, forgiveness, and sacrifice. Lots of suspenseful moments, and someone is trying to sabotage the journey.
The trip is fraught with danger including a realistic tethered spacewalk. This is the first film I know of that showed a space burial. There are some minor glitches here and there, like the gloves that are not sealed to the spacesuits, but other touches like loss of gravity are well done. Lots of great gadgets, and neat spaceships that "transform" without looking cartoonish. While the special effects are fun and look eye-popping for their time, the gift of this movie is in its most subtle moments. This is one to see more than once.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good science fiction movie for it's time and very good special effects, especially since this movie was made in the 1950s. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Carolyn E
I love this dvd movie very good never saw face pressure rocket .Published 5 months ago by JAMES FIORELLO
Saw this when I was a kid. I forgot how crummy it really was. OK, but take you time watching "Destination Moon" a much better film by George PalPublished 9 months ago by Mike Baker 55
Features early space concept of a rotating wheel shaped station to simulate gravity... A concept that was also used in 2001 a Space Odyssey. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Eben Brown
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