Silver Needle in the Sky (1954)

Article #1299 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-4-2004
Posting Date: 3-3-2005
Directed by Hollingsworth Morse
Featuring Richard Crane, Sally Mansfield, Robert Lyden

Rocky Jones must escort several VIPs to an Interplanetary Conference, unaware that an outlaw planet has plans to kidnap them.

You know, I’ve been so nice to these Rocky Jones movies that I’m a little bit afraid that I may be making them sound better than they really are. For the record, they’re talky and static, the plots are naive and don’t hold up to close scrutiny (for example, if you’re going to have an exchange of hostages with the agreement that neither side will be armed, you really should have someone frisking the participants), the acting is uneven, and it engages in cute melodrama at time. The special effects are also quite primitive. Yet, for all this, I think they work. The primitive special effects do have the necessary sense of wonder. The cute melodrama doesn’t overwhelm the story, enough of the acting is is better than you’d expect, the plots may be naive, but they’re not quite as simplistic as they might have been (the average Rocky Jones movie is more complex than the average serial), and even if it’s talky and static, it never grinds to a halt. I think the reason for this is that they’re built off of episodes of a TV show, and when you’ve got only thirty minutes of airtime, you can’t afford to grind things to a halt. Yes, they’re a bit slow and talky, but it’s that relaxed, riding-easily-in-the-saddle type of slowness that actually makes it easy to watch. As it is, my worst complaint about the Rocky Jones movies is the character of Cleolante played by Patsy Parsons; her petulant, fit-throwing character is totally unconvincing as the tyrannical leader of an outlaw planet. Still, if you’ve never seen a Rocky Jones movie, I wouldn’t start with this one; it’s singularly devoid of action. You’d be better off starting with CRASH OF THE MOONS.


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