First Man Into Space (1959)

FIRST MAN INTO SPACE (1959)
Article #1154 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-12-2004
Posting Date: 10-9-2004
Directed by Robert Day
Featuring Marshall Thompson, Marla Landi, Bill Edwards

A pilot defies the orders of his commander and takes a test plane into the reaches of outer space.

The first half of this movie is a draggy bore; the conflicts between the main characters are cliched, and the director does nothing to make the exposition exciting or interesting. However, once we find ourselves dealing with a blood-thirsty monster in the second half, the movie perks up considerably, and even manages to work itself up to a fairly strong sequence near the end where the heroes try to steer the monster to a pressure chamber by appealing to its reason while keeping far enough away from it so as not to suffer damage. It even manages to be touching enough near the end to get away with a line that must have looked awful in print (it’s the line that includes the title of the movie), though some of that credit should go to Bill Edwards (if that’s him doing the voice at the end), who manages to delivery with just the right touch of emotion to make it work. Still, for me the most interesting thing about the movie is the presence of Roger Delgado in a small role as a bullfight entrepreneur who is seeking restitution for damages done to his arena when a passing missile caused a mishap in the bullring; for those not familiar with the name, he is most famous for having played the Master during the Jon Pertwee seasons of “Doctor Who.” Delgado was a wonderful actor, and he turns his role into something special and memorable.

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