One of the Simple Pleasures of life that Marie and I enjoy is a standing “date night” where we set time aside specifically to spend it relaxing together doing something we both enjoy. One of our common interest is 1950’s Sci-Fi movies. What we call Schlocky Sci-Fi. We have quite a collection of our own, and we have discovered that we can “rent” others on-line and watch them on our television by patching my notebook computer into the TV with an HDMI cable. Those we particularly enjoy we will purchase for the collection.
Rentals can be had from Amazon.com, Hulu.com, and Netflix.com. Pricing generally runs either $1.99 or $2.99 from Amazon (our preferred provider) and both Amazon and Hulu offer some free rentals.
This week’s selection was “Destination Space”. Details provided with the listing were:
- Starring: Robert Towne, John Agar
- Directed by: CreateSpace
- Runtime: 51 minutes
- Release year: 1959
- Studio: Sinister Cinema
The opening scene features a small space taxi towing a trio of astronauts in space suits from a rocket ship to an orbital space station: “The Wheel” and my first thought was, “Oh, rats – we HAVE seen this before.” But I was wrong. Sort of.
As it turns out, much of the exterior footage of the atomic powered rocket, The Wheel and astronauts going to and from were scenes taken from a movie in our collection, Conquest of Space (Paramount Pictures). Sets used for interior shots were identical, and even some of the interior action was re-used. It quickly became a contest to try to recognize which shots in Destination Space were re-purposed from Conquest of Space. This added a needed element of excitement since Destination Space, though fraught with tension, was lacking in action of any sort. A good portion of the movie was spent on the program director explaining to a congressional committee the value of a space program. One senator in particular seemed determined to shut the program down.
Destination Space is more a political statement than it is an action movie. But that does not mean it is without interest: some of the points made in 1959 are still valid today, especially concerning the vacillations of public opinion and commitments to funding. If you’re looking for a rollicking, shoot-em-up space western, this is not the film you want. If you’re in the mood for more cerebral challenge – and some decent special effects for the day – fix yourself a mug of hot chocolate and settle in with this one.
Conquest of Space is more of a space adventure movie, but still has a strong intellectual challenge as it asks the question, “How far is too far?”