Saturday, May 25, 2013

Riders to the Stars (1954)

Proto-NASA has a problem. Every time they send a satellite into space, it comes down in a crumpled heap. Solar rays turn the metal into a brittle mess, sorda like how it will eventually destroy our moon. What to do, what to do.

But wait a minute! Asteroids travel around the sun for millions of years without being destroyed. What if we could capture one and examine it for it's secrets! Yea, that sounds like a plausible idea!

So, what they do is compile a list of recruits and subject them to physical and emotional tests until they are down to three: the lovelorn Dr Lockwood (Richard Carlson, also the director), hunky Dr Stanton (William Lundigan), and grumpy Dr Gordon (Robert Karnes). Not wanting to put all their eggheads into one basket, they send them up in separate rockets at the same time. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Oddly the 40+ Lockwood was recently dumped by his early 20's hot model girlfriend Miss Manners (Dawn Addams). Early on he visits her at her work and she is sporting cleavage totally out of place for a 50's film. See if you can count the times Carlson throws a lit cigarette to the floor.

What makes this movie interesting is that it is mostly about the process of selecting the astronauts, similar in style to The Right Stuff (1983). It was an amusing mix of real science and concocted hogwash peppered with scenes like that of a punch card sorter and trucks tearing through the desert destroying native plant life.

Interesting film and a nice take on the sci-fi genre, but it lacks the hook to make it truly memorable. No monsters or threat of world disaster. Just astronauts, asteroids, rockets, and a couple hot chicks. Still, very much worth watching. AMRU 3. Terrible theme song.

No good quotes so instead I leave you with this terrifying image:

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