Moon Maidens (Missile to the Moon; 1-07-1959)

Seeing how the moon has been front and center in the headlines and in this column for the past week, I thought it a good idea to round out things with a movie about a trip to Earth’s celestial neighbor.

As my faithful reader(s) know, I spare no expense when it comes to securing only the finest entertainment to review.  I see your eyes gleam: will it be Fritz Lang’s Frau im mond?  Or perhaps George Pal’s adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s Destination Moon?

Nay, my fans.  What would be the point of revisiting old classics?  The key to this column is its currency.  Hence, for your reading pleasure, here are my thoughts upon viewing:

Some nitpickers will note that this epic actually came out almost a year ago.  For some reason, one of our town’s less reputable theaters still had this three-reeler running as a companion to an old gangster movie.  How fortunate for us.

Missile is a tale of interplanetary derring-do capitalizing on the new fad, the Space Race.  Of course, the film was made solely to spotlight the amazing technology that will one day take us to the moon.  Well, and these:

I noted in an earlier article how space travel stories always focus on the pilots, and a journey through the great beyond is little more exciting or involved than a drive down Highway 80.  In Missile, an eager scientist with an unplaceable accent has built his own rocket ship in his backyard.  He then shanghais two escaped prisoners (one with a heart of gold, the other desirous of gold) and takes off for the moon.  This is, perhaps, the movie’s best sequence.  To be fair, given the film’s reported budget of $65,000, the cinematography is not bad.

The scientist’s partner and the partner’s wife accidentally stow away on board the rocketship before it turns into stock footage of a V-2 rocket and blasts off toward the moon.  The scientist dies along the way, leaving his partner in charge.  Of course, the rocket has limitless fuel and blasts away at one gee the entire way to the moon, making for a very short trip).

Once on the moon, our heroes (well, two heroes, one heroine, one scoundrel, and one corpse) discover that, though the moon has no air, the sky scatters the sun’s rays in a decidedly Terran fashion.  Standing in the sun is instantly fatal due to the intense heat (much like one encounters driving down Highway 80).  We do not get to see the effects of the moon’s lesser gravity on the travelers, as they have special “gravity boots” on.  I suppose I should be grateful that they even made a nod to the issue.  Thankfully, they astronauts all have space suits, though they seem less than adequate in the neck area.

More importantly, they discover that the moon is inhabited by several species of inimical creatures including

and

But most importantly, they discover this colony of female space people, the last of a dying race.

Ah, there are our pageant winners. 

Of course, I would not wish to further spoil the plot of this (rather short) masterpiece.  Suffice it to say that the ending is bittersweet.  Which is to say that it is sweet that it ends at all, and bitter than the ending does not come closer to the beginning.  I look forward to many more films like this one, at least until the novelty of Space wears off for the under-21 crowd.

Next up: a wrap-up of the January 1959 F&SF–then, on to the new stuff!  Thanks for reading (and replying).

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