Once in a New Moon (1934)
Article 5556 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Anthony Kimmins
Featuring Eliot Makeham, Rene Ray, Morton Selten
What it is: Romantic comedy masquerading as political satire masquerading as Vernesque adventure
A small town in England is plucked off the Earth by a passing star and turned into a new moon. The residents vie for power politically while a rich man’s son romances a newspaperman’s daughter.
This title has been on my “ones that got away” list for ages, and it’s finally shown up. And as a science fiction epic somewhat modeled after Verne’s OFF ON A COMET… well, it’s not much; special effects are kept to a minimum, and it mostly uses its concept as a springboard for its political satire, wherein the ruling class does battle with socialists. Given that the political satire seems to be the whole point of the movie, it’s rather disappointing that the movie opts for a deus ex machina ending in lieu of letting the satirical action play out, so I can only conclude that ultimately, it’s about the romance; at least that plays out to its end. As a comedy, it’s pretty short on laughs; Morton Selten comes off best as the wealthy man elected president who is more interested in his stamp collection then ruling. All in all, this is neither particularly fun nor particularly memorable.