Friday Date Night: Destination Space

Destination Space, movie, scifi, classic, 1950sOne 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,, and  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:

Destination Space is a terrific, slickly produced space opera with Agar and Towne in charge of a giant space station. During an attempted rocket launch, a meteor smashes into the station, crippling it! Later it’s discovered that an overload within the rocket will cause a nuclear explosion-within minutes! HIGHLY recommended. 16mm.
  • 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?”

6 thoughts on “Friday Date Night: Destination Space”

  1. I have seen this movie! I got this app for my iPad called Movie Vault and that was one of the movies I could watch on it. Wow, will have to look for Conquest of Space. That’s so funny they used same footage, though I have noticed that in other movies, maybe just not so much? (JAG used some footage from HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, I believe). Interesting!

    1. I am well accustomed to seeing stock footage of V2 rocket launches and war clips of tanks and trucks scurrying about, but this is the first time (that I’m aware of) that I’ve seen such a blatant re-use of footage from one movie to another. I’ve got Red October, I’ll have to get JAG and to a comparathon one winter Saturday afternoon. Thanks, Pauline!

  2. Hey Allan! I clicked on your email link 😉

    Sci fi, yum. My wife and I have the same sort of viewing habits, which we dub “Theater 3000”. The pause button is our friend, as we go back and forth on the “science” in the movie.

    I’m not too big on campy, though. The Matrix and Avatar have spoiled me.



    1. Thank you, Mitch, for being the 1 in 10; though I’d rate you much higher. 🙂

      Loved Avatar. One day I’ll get to see it in 3D. Maybe when the rest of the world has moved to holographs I’ll be able to afford a 3D TV. Though I think I’ll hold off for the new generation that doesn’t need the goofy glasses.

      1. There is something about 2D that makes escapism more fun. I do NOT want to feel like I’m walking through a wax museum as I view movies.

        Old-fashioned, I guess.



        1. I think I can understand that. A buddy and I were at an electronics show and we saw a BIG flat-screen 3D television playing a clip from Avatar (the part where the air ships were flying through those floating rocks). The 3D effect added a great deal of depth and realism to the scene, but it was still all “over there”. When I’ve gone to 3D movies, I found that the movie makers seem to find way too many opportunities to throw things at the audience just to make them jump. That’s annoying.

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