Project Moonbase (1953)

Rating: *
Review Date: 7/11/15
Written By: Robert Heinlein
Cast: Donna Martell, Ross Ford

"Sorry to have gone female on you, Major."

Robert Heinlein's futuristic vision of the 1970's is interesting and intriguing, but the plot and execution are a complete embarrassment. In order to protect the Free World from the constant threat of Communism, the United States builds an orbital space station that can drop hydrogen bombs on any Commies who decide to act up. Naturally, the "Enemies Of Freedom" find this menacing eye in the sky intolerable, and are working tirelessly to destroy it. They finally get their chance to send an agent to the space station, with orders to sabotage a lunar reconnaissance flight piloted by a perpetually whiny and uptight Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell). More drama is added when Major Moore (Ross Ford) is assigned to co-pilot the mission, as there is past history and bad blood between him and Briteis. Moore discovers the enemy agent because he's not a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, but it's too late. The sabotage attempt forces Briteis to land her ship on the Moon, which throws the US Military and the scientific community into hysterics. Stranded on the Moon and awaiting relief, General Greene orders Briteis and Moore to get married, so that the American public won't freak out about such a scandalous situation.

The film desperately tries to take itself seriously by being as scientifically accurate as possible, but the special effects fail to support the story because they're so appallingly bad. Support rods for spaceships are clearly visible, composite shots are transparent, models dangle on threads, miniature puppets look like crude blobs of clay, and view screens are simply still images accompanied by voiceovers. The acting is pretty bad, and the actors are constantly tripping over awkward scientific jargon. Donna Martell is pretty and a decent actress, but her character is incredibly irritating. However, she wears an amusing space-age bullet bra, so at least she's got that going for her. Major Moore isn't much better, as he's a whiny and immature jerk for the most part. The action scenes are pretty pathetic, and the lunar wedding is mind-blowingly awful. Maybe this seemed progressive back in the 50's, but it comes across as horribly sexist and chauvinistic today. That said, I have to give credit to Heinlein for making the President of the United States a woman, although it comes off as more of a punchline than actual progressive thinking. Thankfully, the movie is only an hour long, but it was still a chore to watch all the way through.