Project Moon Base (1953) | 1h 3min | Sci-Fi | 4 September 1953 (USA) | A saboteur posing as a scientist strives to destroy the world’s first space station.
Director: Richard Talmadge
Writers: Robert A. Heinlein (screenplay) (as Robert Heinlein), Jack Seaman (screenplay)
Stars: Donna Martell, Hayden Rorke, Ross Ford
Project Moonbase (a.k.a. Project Moon Base) is a 1953 independently made black-and-white science fiction film, produced by Jack Seaman, directed by Richard Talmadge, and starring Ross Ford, Donna Martell, Hayden Rorke. It co-stars Larry Johns, Herb Jacobs, Barbara Morrison, and Ernestine Barrier. The film was distributed by Lippert Pictures and is based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein, who shares the screenwriting credit with producer Jack Seaman.
Project Moonbase is unusual for its time in both attempting to portray space travel in a “realistic” manner and for depicting a future in which women hold positions of authority and responsibility equal to men; as an example, the President of the United States is a woman.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the film in January 1990 as an episode during its first season on The Comedy Channel. It had been originally broadcast in 1986 as a syndicated television episode of the Canned Film Festival. Movie was also featured in the prologue of Fargo (season 2) TV-series episode 4.
PLOT / STORYLINE:
Set in a future 1970, the United States is considering building bases on the Moon. Colonel Briteis (whose first name is never stated, played by Donna Martell), Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford), and Doctor Wernher (Larry Johns) are sent to orbit the Moon to survey landing sites for future lunar missions. However, Dr. Wernher is an impostor whose mission is to destroy the US’s Earth-orbiting space station, which he plans to do by colliding the rocket with the station on the way back from the Moon. Col. Briteis (which is repeatedly pronounced “Bright Eyes”) is arrogant, rash and distrusting of Maj. Moore. Moore, in turn had a romantic interest in Briteis when they began in the USSF, but was rejected in favor of her ambition to be the first person on the Moon.
Moore realizes that the man claiming to be Wernher (who taught in Brooklyn) is actually a spy for an unnamed country, because the impostor has no knowledge of Wernher’s trade nor the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. In the ensuing struggle for control of the rocket, Col. Briteis accidentally hits the boosters, which saves their lives, but leaves them critically low on fuel. She takes unfair blame which Moore assures her is not her fault. Briteis then realizes she may not have all the answers and does need Moore’s help on the mission. They have to make an emergency landing on the Moon. With them all marooned, Dr. Wernher redeems himself by helping establish communications with Earth, although an accident results in his untimely death.
In response to the unexpected turn of events, the US authorities decide to make the immobilized spaceship the core of a Moon base. Later, the General, informally called Pappy, has a man-to-man with Moore about his feelings for Briteis. Moore expresses doubts about her feelings for him, and he states “she has no need for me.” Briteis, after overhearing this, secretly proposes to Moore via Pappy and cuts a deal with Madame President to promote Moore Brigadier General of Project Moonbase to make up for her earlier actions towards him. Pappy observes that Briteis and Moore will be isolated for weeks or perhaps months, and public opinion (and Madame President) would want them to be married. After a video wedding officiated by a USSF chaplain, and witnessed by Pappy, Briteis pins a paper star on Moore, thereby indicating his new rank (presumably O-7, Brig. Gen.), one above hers (O-6, Col.). The couple then kisses signaling the beginning of their married life, and the end of the movie.
CAST & CHARACTERS:
Donna Martell as Colonel Briteis
Hayden Rorke as Gen. ‘Pappy’ Greene
Ross Ford as Maj. Bill Moore
Larry Johns as Doctor Wernher
Herb Jacobs as Mr. Roundtree
Barbara Morrison as Polly Prattles
Ernestine Barrier as Madame President
James Craven as Commodore Carlson
John Hedloe as Adjutant
Peter Adams as Captain Carmody