“You must get back to Earth, and tell them what we found.”
While on an eXpedition to the Moon (X-M), an astronaut (John Emory) and his flight crew — including a mathematician (Osa Massen), a colonel (Lloyd Bridges), a navigator (Harry Chamberlin), and a flight engineer (Noah Beery, Jr.) — find their rocketship heading towards Mars instead.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- George Pal Films
- Nuclear Threat
- Science Fiction
- Space Exploration
Response to Peary’s Review:
Viewed by many as an irredeemably “bad movie”, this dated sci-fi flick is primarily notorious for beating out George Pal’s Destination Moon (1950) as the first of the “fifties science fiction cycle”. In his review, Peary insists that Rocketship X-M — despite its much lower production values and infinitely inferior scientific credibility — is “at least as entertaining” as its Technicolor counterpart. While this is true to a certain extent, the number of sexist comments directed towards the lone female on board the ship made it difficult for me to focus on anything else:
Dr. Lisa Van Horn (Osa Massen): I suppose you think women should only cook, and sew, and bear children.
Col. Floyd Graham (an annoyingly smug Lloyd Bridges): Isn’t that enough?
In terms of the plot, blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo framed the story as a cautionary tale about nuclear power: once the explorers arrive on Mars, they find that a nuclear holocaust has caused the “once advanced civilization” of (conveniently) humanoid Martians to revert to a brutish cave-man existence. Unfortunately, the scenes on Mars — actually shot in the American Southwest with an added sepia tint — are underdeveloped, slowly paced, and largely unsatisfying.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine cinematography
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its place in film history.