Destination Moon (1950)

Article #522 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 8-19-2002
Posting date: 1-12-2003

A voyage to the moon is planned and then undertaken.

Perhaps more than any other movie, this George Pal production brought the genre of science fiction to the attention of the movie-going public, and though the genre would soon shift to more exploitable approaches (namely, rampaging monsters and invading space aliens), this is the one that kicked it all off. It may seem a little dull to audiences nowadays, but it actually holds up pretty well if you’re patient and willing to ride along with the measured pace of the story. Heinlein’s involvement is apparent in the proceedings; if the characters are fairly one-dimensional, its interest in the various groups that play a role in the proceedings (big business, the military and the government all have their hands in the mix) is something I recognize from some of his works, and it gives the movie the flavor of some of the literary science fiction of that time period, especially in its emphasis on scientific problem-solving. The movie may be a bit quaint anymore, but it still has an enormous charm, and it looks beautiful. And even if the comic relief character isn’t particularly funny, at least he avoids the mistake of straining for laughs, and never becomes insufferable.

And incidentally, even if the Woody Woodpecker sequence isn’t very funny, it’s nonetheless very evocative of that ephemeral cinematic world of industrial/training/educational films (anybody out there remember the Bell Science Lab film series?) that I consider a priceless addition to the movie.

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