Rocketship X-M (1950)

Article #213 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-15-2001
Posting date: 2-28-2002

An expedition is planned to the moon, but technical problems with the fuel cause the spaceship to end up going to Mars instead.

This movie was quickly made to try to cash in on the hype surrounding DESTINATION MOON, and actually beat that movie to the theatres. It’s actually quite fascinating to compare the two, as this movie does aspire to be a science fiction adventure drama like DESTINATION MOON. The characters seem a little more human in this one; in fact, overall this is the better acted of the two movies, with a number of familiar faces (Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, Morris Ankrum, John Emery, Noah Beery, Hugh O’Brian). It’s also the more downbeat of the two movies, though at the same time I think it is somewhat more conventional, and its social commentary is a bit on the obvious side. Still, it did attempt to be a serious entry in the genre of SF, and avoids being a mere rip-off of its inspiration, and for that it certainly deserves applause.

It also set some of the cliches for this type of movie. It has the first “spaceship caught in a meteor shower” sequence. It also has the sole female member of the crew which paved the way for romance as well as the blatant sexism prevalent at the time. Still, the movie doesn’t fall into the trap of backing up the sexism. Osa Massen’s character doesn’t just go around serving coffee; she is a vital member of the crew who knows her stuff about the fuel being used. In fact, it’s important to note that after the scene where there is a discrepancy between her calculations and those of John Emery, and John makes the decision to use his and discard hers, that it was his mixture of the fuel that threw them off course and sent them to Mars; could it be that the woman had been right? An interesting movie.


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