||Project Moon Base (1953)
Project Moon Base has everything you could want in a science-fiction yarn. Well, okay, it doesn't have a chase scene, swordfights, a toe-tapping theme song, scantily or un-clad participants, imaginative weaponry, meteor bombardments, color, people of color, memorable dialogue, cute puppies or much suspense. But it does have Hayden Rorke, the always-suspicious Dr. Bellmar on I Dream Of Jeannie, so there's that.
Jovial General "Pappy" Green (Rorke) has some bad news for Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford). He's being bumped as pilot for tomorrow's moon-orbit flight in favor of Colonel Briteis, who not only replaced him on a previous mission but also received a resultant promotion that means the rival now outranks Bill, further maddening Mr. Moore.
Ground Control to Major Bill/You sure don't have a lot of chill
General Green wants Billy-Boy to remain on the mission as co-pilot and alludes to the airman having a soft spot for the Colonel before said prior flight. You know, romantic cuddle 'n' kiss stuff. Suppose this would be a good time to mention Briteis is of the female persuasion.
And, fellas, wait until you see perky Briteis (Donna Martell) writhe during bursts of G-force. More like G-spot-force, the way she seems to be silently pantomiming the most famous scene in When Harry Met Sally!
As every NASA groupie knows, lunar missions don't require any prep time; therefore, it is no surprise the pilots got assigned at the eleventh hour, nor is the fact that third crew member, civilian scientist Doctor Wernher (Larry Johns), has never met the military duo.
This set of circumstances creates an opening for the sinister Baddies Representing An Unidentified Enemy Of America--can't imagine who that may be, in a 1953 production--to kidnap the doctor and swap him out for a lookalike. Instead of photographing the dark side of the moon--the genuine scientist's job--Wannabe Werhner is to crash the craft, thereby pooping all over Pappy's program!
Damn those not necessarily Communists and their nefarious schemes to crush the spirit of those enjoying the limitless freedom that comes with living in the home of the wage slave!!!
You will be shocked to learn diabolical Doctor W's plan comes to fruition, his suicide mission murdering both the pilots and all personnel aboard the orbiting space station to which he, Briteis and William were supposed to dock. I'd be even more shocked, considering this is not what actually transpires in the flick.
Instead....nope, not going to break the M-O-M (almost) No Spoilers Policy. I'll opt to hail Project Moon Base as one of the all-time great generators of Hunos.
What was the point of the scene wherein the imposter Wernher showed up with black hair and needed to dye it gray? How exactly were they going to photograph the dark side of the moon? If, as the General explained, weight is a vital concern, why is the craft the size of an aircraft carrier, with a control room as large as a Winnebago? Why is gravity on the moon identical to that on Earth?
Why are there roughly 847 visible stars in the sky? How come Colonel Briteis seemingly doesn't have a first name? Why, if as also explained, it is scientifically impossible to perform a lunar landing, is the movie called Project Moon Base? Why does it say "Moon Base" (two words) in the opening credits but "Moonbase" on all the artwork?
The answer to all of the above? Hunos!
Oh, wait, it's spelled "Who knows?"
What we do learn are some fascinating facts that will surely come in very handy when we reach the futuristic date in which this sci-fi spectacular takes place, 1970.
For instance, telephones, cars, airplane, clothing and hairstyles will remain exactly the same as they were in 1953, when PMB was filmed. Also, the regulation rocketeer gear will be a cap just like the kind worn in 1930s Buck Rogers serials, short pants, a T-shirt and ankle boots, none of those sissy helmets or flame-retardant coveralls with breathing apparatuses employed by scaredy-cats such as John Glenn.
Wow, 1970 is going to be dreamy. And just think about how much moolah we're going to save, not having to buy any appliances, autos or threads less than 17 years old!
Feminists will be delighted by Project's inclusion of a woman President Of The United States, though might find it a teensy bit offensive that the windbag none-too-bright reporter is named Polly Prattles. And misogynists are bound to LOVE what may very well be the most sexist final scene in sci-fi film history (which is covering a lot of ground.)
In other words, Project Moon Base offers something for everyone! It even has makeup artist Harry Thomas and cinematographer William Thompson, who both worked on Ed Wood's Night Of The Ghouls.
And wait until you see the MC Escher-inspired scene aboard the space station. Why go through all the trouble and expense to film a segment superfluous to the rest of the story? Hunos, hepcats, Hunos!
Here's a preview.
For the photo-illustrated version of this review and dozens more, featuring "the best of the worst" in all genres, please visit ManorOnMovies.com.