Rocketship X-M (1950)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - May 26, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 79 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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In the opening scene of this cautionary early science fiction thriller, a crew about to enter outer space is leisurely taking a press conference while a stentorian voice counts down the minutes until departure: "X minus 11 minutes," etc. No one seems hurried and, with six minutes to spare, they all calmly file into what appears to be a nice family sized station wagon that will take them the final 200 meters or so to a matte-painting rocket ship. All this, of course, is only amusing in hindsight; back in 1950, no one knew what proper behavior -- or attire, for that matter -- should be for someone about to break the barrier of the final frontier. The crew, English-accented John Emery, Danish-accented Osa Massen, faux Texas-accented Noah Beery Jr. and Hollywood B-movie-accented Lloyd Bridges and Hugh O'Brian, all go about their business with a seriousness and dedication that almost make the ensuing space flight believable. But not quite. There is a lot of mumbo-jumbo about velocity and weightlessness, but only certain articles actually do become weightless -- Beery's harmonica, for example -- while Massen's coiffure stays stubbornly in place for the duration. When the rocket ship takes a detour to Mars, that planet is tinted red, as it should be, but appears remarkably similar to California's Death Valley, which, of course, is where Kurt Neumann and crew filmed the climactic scenes (and filmed them fast, apparently). Hoping to capitalize on the excitement generated by George Pal's superior Destination Moon (1950), producer Robert L. Lippert and his team rushed Rocketship X-M through in mere weeks. With that in mind, the film is admirably well acted and produced.