Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where we’re prepping for the Oscars by watching stuff worthy of a Razzie. This week, we’re watching 1950’s Rocketship X-M.
What’s The Plot?
A brave five man crew heads out into space on the first manned rocket mission. Their destination is the moon, but getting there won’t be easy! There’s…honestly not that much more to say.
And the Oscar Goes To…
Dalton Trumbo, two time Academy Award Winner for Best Story (precursor to Best Original Screenplay) and writer of Spartacus (which didn’t net him an Oscar but is probably his best known gig). Rocketship X-M appears to be one of the many B-movies that Trumbo ghost wrote to make ends meet (when he wasn’t winning Oscars) during his time on the Hollywood Blacklist. One assumes he was simply a hired gun, cranking out the script for what research indicates was the rushed equivalent of a mockbuster without much in the way of research or dedication, but that is simply assumption.
Worthy of note: Bryan Cranston is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at this year’s Oscars for playing Dalton Trumbo.
Five Reasons to See It
- Lloyd Bridges stars as a ruggedly handsome member of the expedition, the only man aboard to make it intact to the film’s conclusion. He turns in the quality performance expected of a Bridges, making the movie a bit less boring.
- The ship overshoots its lunar destination and instead ends up landing on Mars. It’s OK though, since they brought double the fuel required for the lunar trip…and traveled a distance 142 times further without it taking any extra time.
- The movie is weirdly progressive for its day, having one member of the mission be a female scientist highly respected for her pioneering work in chemistry. Sure, it’s so that Lloyd Bridges has a pretty lady to fall in love with, but still: respected lady scientist on the first manned space mission in a movie from 1950. Credit where it’s due.
- While a lot of them are probably due to the general ignorance about space travel in 1950 and the fact that our best quality observations about other planets were still ahead of us, there a LOT of errors here. Like, if you took a drink every time something completely wrong is said or done vis-à-vis the science of the trip, you would be blackout drunk within thirty minutes.
- “A mere speck? Texas a mere speck?” – The comic relief, whose main trait is that he won’t shut the hell up about his home state.
Honestly, this movie is a bit of a snoozer. It was shot in less than three weeks with a fairly small (even for the time) budget, meaning corners were cut. There are so few settings that the movie could almost work as a stage play, the special effects shots are few and far between, and the scenes on mars are obviously just tinted pink. The movie is available in full on YouTube, but do yourself a favor and check out some of Trumbo’s better received works instead.
NEXT WEEK: We look at the early work of Spielberg’s go-to cinematographer with 1991’s Cool As Ice.