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  Spaceman and King Arthur, The He Came From Outer Space
Year: 1979
Director: Russ Mayberry
Stars: Dennis Dugan, Jim Dale, Ron Moody, Kenneth More, John Le Mesurier, Rodney Bewes, Sheila White, Robert Beatty, Cyril Shaps, Kevin Brennan, Ewen Solon, Pat Roach, Reg Lye
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dr Zimmerman (Cyril Shaps) is outlining his latest plan for the space programme, a method of sending a manned probe into the stars at the speed of light to explore alien planets for the next thirty years. But on hearing of this, the Senator (Robert Beatty) in charge of funding blows his top and insists such things will never come to pass when an actual American human being is going to pilot. Zimmerman has to think up a better solution, and fast, so assigns his technician Tom Trimble (Dennis Dugan) to the problem...

After Star Wars exploded onto the movie scene in 1977, popular entertainment attempted to cash in, and Disney's big production in that arena - well, it wasn't this, it was The Black Hole, although this far lower budgeted effort probably took about as much at the box office. Now relegated to one of those half-remembered movies you might have caught as a child, or even seen in clip form and made a mental note to catch up with it only you never did, The Spaceman and King Arthur was nobody's idea of classic science fiction.

Indeed, many looked down on Disney for concocting such a movie which didn't simply make a perceived mockery of a genre which had fans take things far more seriously than this did, but it also sent up King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, usually a tale of yore approached with at least a semblance of sincerity and respect. This was actually a modern fantastical spin on the old Mark Twain story A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court which had our hero, Trimble, accidentally stuck in the spaceship when it is struck by lightning and takes off. He opts to go ahead with the mission, unready as he is, but he's not alone as his specially devised robot double is along for the ride as well.

As you may have guessed from the title, going faster than light sends Tom back to the sixth century where he lands in the English countryside; that was unless you were watching this under its alternate title Unidentified Flying Oddball, but if you had heard of this you would likely know what you were letting yourself in for anyway. After a lengthy set up of the premise which doesn't seem too suggest much in the way of dazzle, you would probably be correct on that score, but all of a sudden the viewer may well find themself surprised at how funny some of these rather basic antics were. If was nothing taxing, but the capable cast wrung a decent amount of chuckles from the material.

And even some outright belly laughs if you were in a good mood. Kenneth More was our King, in his final role for the cinema, but in the part of straight man rather than noble defender of England's green and pleasant land. As the baddie Mordred, Jim Dale was excellent value not because he was convincingly nasty and scheming, but also because he threw himself into the silly slapstick - his business with the magnetised sword is very amusing. Ron Moody's Merlin was a bad guy too, for a change, not something that went down well with fans of such things but he was easily as fun as Dale, and Sheila White was an appealingly dizzy heroine who Tom falls for, in spite of her thinking her father is now a goose thanks to Mordred's spells. But the point here was that magic was really science, and Trimble's technology outstrips the medieval trickery for effectiveness, another theme being American know-how besting these superstitious Brits. You could take that how you wanted, but the fact remained this was highly diverting in its daft fashion. Strange porno mag running joke, though. Music by Ron Goodwin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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