Journey to the Moon (1959)
aka Rehla ilal kamar
Article 5892 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Hamada Abdel Wahab
Featuring Rushdi Abazah, Souad Tharwat, Edmond Tulma
What it is: Science fiction comedy
A rocket is accidentally launched to the moon when an idiot falls on the controls. Hilarity ensues.
This marks the first movie I’ve covered for this series that comes from Egypt, and though it’s always an adventure to embark on a journey through a new nation’s cinema, it’s somewhat problematic when my initial encounter is with a comedy. If it’s not funny, who do I blame? Is it those in charge of the translation? Humor that doesn’t translate from one culture to another? Or could it be that it’s just not funny? That it’s a comedy is obvious, and that Ismail Yassin is the primary comic personality here is apparent. But I find myself not laughing. The translation may be part of the problem; the subtitles are slapdash (the word is “shoot”, not “shout”) to the point that they may actually impede projecting a sense of humor. But on a certain level beyond that, I just find Yassin painful; his main shtick seems to be that he does something stupid and then whines about it. It’s no surprise everyone describes him as an idiot.
As for the movie itself, it seems largely inspired by ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS, though not slavishly; certain elements of the movie, though not exactly original, aren’t borrowed from its model, such as the existence of a robot and a jarring anti-nuclear message involving a number of malformed men; the latter is somewhat effective but out of place will all the clowning. The special effects are inconsistent, but better than I would have expected. But for the most part, this falls flat. However, I did have one laugh when one of the characters says something like “Come out and see the damn thing we landed on”.