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Destination Moon (1950)
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:34 pm    Post subject: Destination Moon (1950) Reply with quote



Science fiction gets the deluxe treatment: a big-budget, Technicolor production from producer George Pal and director Irving Pichel, with Leith Stevens music (When Worlds Collide and War of the Worlds), Chesley Bonestell matte paintings, and Oscar winning special effects supervised by Lee Zavitz.







Stop motion animation scenes of the astronauts walking on the hull of the ship were directed by John S. Abbott. The fine script was penned by Rip Van Ronkel, James O'Hanlon, and veteran sci-fi author Robert Heinlein.

The cast includes John Archer as the millionaire industrialist, Warner Anderson as the designer of the rocket, Dick Wesson as the wise-cracking radio operator, and Tom Powers as the visionary general. (Note: this is not the same Tom Powers who stars in Unidentified Flying Objects in 1956).






Although many reviewers connect Destination Moon with Heinlein's 1950 novel Rocketship Galileo, the film's story has much more in common with Heinlein's novelette The Man Who Sold the Moon, also published in 1950. The novelette, like the film, spotlights private industry as the sponsor of the Moon trip.

Heinlein actually published a third Moon-trip story in 1950, a novelette featured in the September issue of Short Stories Magazine under the title Destination Moon.

This version is so similar to the film it was probably intended as a promotional piece, but it does include one fascinating story element not in the film. The explorers find evidence of previous lunar visitors -- either Russians or aliens, and they aren't sure which!

While planning the famous EVA rescue scene (in which an oxygen bottle is used as a makeshift propulsion unit) the film makers considered using a shotgun as the means by which John Archer retrieves Warner Anderson when he drifts away from the rocket in space.

Thankfully they changed their minds; a shotgun seems like an inappropriate piece of equipment to take to a lifeless, airless satellite. However, the shotgun concept was used in the final film during Woody Woodpecker's cartoon demonstration of rocket propulsion which is shown to the millionaire industrialists who finance the Moon trip.








Chesley Bonestell, famed artist of the celestial realm, provided matt paintings and designed the lunar surface.





















Art director Ernst Fegte added the fractured lava bed feature which resembled a cracked lake bottom. The cracks diminish in scale as they recede from the camera, creating a forced perspective which enhanced the depth of the set. This blend of technical accuracy and artistic excellence is the key to the success of Destination Moon.









No wonder it almost single-handedly started the 1950s sci-fi craze. The film has a strong flavor of The Right Stuff (that feeling of brave men doing a big job in spite of every obstacle). If you appreciate stories which portray heroism and the nobility of the human spirit, Destination Moon is your kind of movie.



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Last edited by Bud Brewster on Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:39 am; edited 8 times in total
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I hate to say it, but gone are the days when movies like Destination Moon took us to other planets in vehicles that looked like those beautiful rocket models they used to sell -- the ones that had lovely cars stuck to the bottoms.

Gee, I really miss those . . .


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When I was a kid in the 1950s, I'd sit in the front seat of our family car and stare out the windshield at the hood ornament . . . while I imagined it looking like this.




Oh, and then there's this one. It was on the hood of the 1958 Chevy Luna, I think.




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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
Gone are the days when movies like Destination Moon took us to other planets in vehicles that looked like those beautiful rocket models they used to sell with lovely cars stuck to the bottoms. How I miss 'em.

I had mentioned something similar to Brent Gair. He responded that his term for such spaceship designs was "the silver ships". Very Happy
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Robert (Butch) Day
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LIFE magazine did a strange photo essay on Destination Moon (1950). I found these pictures by accident but couldn't find which issue they were in. The caption:



Not only the magnetic boots, but in the background a model of the Luna is visible. I don't remember a shot similar in the movie. From a cut scene perhaps?

























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scotpens
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^ I recall reading somewhere that a fantasy ballet sequence was planned (though not filmed) for Destination Moon, but it was quashed by George Pal who insisted on scientific accuracy and credibility.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Those pictures have convinced me I've stayed up far too late tonight. I'm going to bed now and I expect that post and all it's disturbing pictures to be gone in the morning.

If not, I'm going to seek professional help . . .

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Rocky Jones
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing about this film that's pretty much unique to moon movies is the depiction of a cracked surface on the moon. On Earth, that type of surface only happens when the ground is saturated with moisture and the surface layer drys out more quickly than the lower layer. On the Moon with neither moisture or an atmosphere I can't imagine how such a surface might occur. Does anyone have any idea as to the filmmakers' rationale for this?
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Krel
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rocky Jones wrote:
One thing about this film that's pretty much unique to moon movies is the depiction of a cracked surface on the moon.

Does anyone have any idea as to the filmmakers' rationale for this?

They knew it was incorrect, but they did it so they could give a sense of scale to the sets. It allowed them to make force-perspective sets, using midgets to give a appearance of distance.

David.
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larryfoster
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
When I was a kid in the 1950s, I'd sit in the front seat of our family car and stare out the windshield at the hood ornament . . .

When I was a kid in the 1950s... I flew the skies, riding on the back of a 1955 Pontiac Indian Chief. I think his face would even light up with the car lights - IIRC. But, we never left the Earth! lol.


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Andrew Kidd
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An article I wrote on Destination Moon.

Update from Bud: The link no longer works.
Sad
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:46 pm    Post subject: dest moon- Andrew Reply with quote

Well writen analysis of the political ramifications of Detination Moon. I agree with your take on the Heinlien influences, but I'm uncertain of how much influence he had other than his juvenile Rocketship Galileo, even though he is credited as co-author of the screenplay.

The film's plot also resembles that of "The Man Who Sold the Moon", which Heinlein wrote in 1949 but did not publish until 1951.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Boy would I love to have this! I found a reference to it at the bottom of the Wikipedia article about Destination Moon. Here's what Wikipedia says.
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In 1950, Fawcett Publications released a 10-cent Destination Moon movie tie-in comic book. DC Comics also published a comic book preview on the Pal film; it was the cover feature of DC's brand new science fiction anthology comic book Strange Adventures # 1 (September 1950).
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This is the stuff that inspired us as kids in the 1950s. Man oh man, I miss the days when the spinning comic book rack in the drug store was filled with gorgeous covers like these.


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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I combined three pairs of Bonestell images from your post, Bud, to form panoramas.






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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Ever wonder if "Destination Moon" had much in common with Apollo 11? Actually, the similarities are surprising! Here's a few simple examples. The Apollo 11 plaque that was left on the Moon ends with the words, "We came in peace for all mankind."





In the movie, Dr. Cargraves' verbal dedication, spoken on the surface, ends with, " . . . on behalf of — and for the benefit of — all mankind."





And Dr. Cargraves describes the Moon by radio to the folks on Earth with the phrase, " . . ."utter barrenness and desolation."

By the happiest of coincidences, Buzz Aldrin described his first impression of the Moon, shortly after he emerged from the Eagle, with six words. "Magnificent sight out here. Magnificent desolation".





Same sentiments in all these examples, and they even use several of the same words. My goodness, what ARE the odds, eh?
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Somewhere in a parallel universe, two groups of astronauts gaze across the Lunar plane at each other. Very Happy




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