Thursday, August 13, 2009

Project Moon Base (1953)

Movie quotes:
General Greene: Now that we have a space station -
MST3K: - or Frisbee -
General Greene: - it is at last possible to send a ship -
MST3K: - or batteries -
General Greene: - all the way around the moon.
MST3K: - or playground ball.
(MST3K, commenting on the origin of props)

At a glance:
The Mystery Science 3000 team adds some humor to this flawed, misogynistic space procedural

Our review (with spoilers):
The USA is on the verge of building a base on the moon that will be used to monitor/defuse nuclear threats. Russia, of course, wants to foil that plan, so they send a spy to infiltrate a mission to circumnavigate the moon and take photos. The spy will attempt to take control of the ship and crash it. In his way are the pilot, Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell) and co-pilot, Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford). Briteis and Moore have to get past their petty squabbling and sexist jibes to defeat the spy.

Project Moon Base should, I suppose, be commended for showing women in positions of power (Colonel Briteis and the US President are women). However, these efforts are negated by its portrayal of ‘Brite-eyes’. She rarely shows any regard for army protocol, and what’s worse, when the situation turns dour, she all but relinquishes command and suddenly defers to the man in the space ship for help and guidance.

The film has a similar problem with the script and action, or lack of it. Fans of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and other more ‘realistic’, procedural-style films will like the basis in science and the lack of tricks or editing to speed up the action. Ships accelerate slowly; they dock slowly; everything happens slowly. Even the big spy fight happens slowly (because of gravitational issues).

I reviewed this film along with the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, headed by Joel Hodgson, in this season 1, episode 9 entry. Hodgson’s shows are laconic and match the pace of the film, allowing the movie to be appreciated on its own merits and demerits. There are occasional funny MST3K lines, but nothing to split your sides.

Rating:  1 of 4 (original film); 2 of 4 (MST3K)

Other reviewers said:
"One element that Heinlein tries to add is a touch of feminism, or to at least portray feminine equality in the male military environment. Maybe it was just Robert Heinlein, who tended to be a dirty old man at times, or maybe it was just the era in which the film was made, but much of the cod-feminism in fact collapses into embarrassing sexism."
- Moria (Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review)

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