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This was the follow-up to The Mouse That Roared (59), returning us to the latest problems of the tiny (3x5 miles plus some acres) European nation of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, headed by the Grand Duchess Gloriana XIII (Margaret Rutherford), who is elderly and usually clueless about whatever situation she's in. Their prime export is wine but suddenly this wine proves to be too combustible, initiating an economic crisis. The tiny country's sneaky prime minister (Ron Moody) concocts a plan to get a loan from the USA for space research (outer space). Surprisingly, the money is approved as at this time the U.S. politicians needed to make a grand friendly diplomatic gesture to show all the nations that they were not selfish with their space program - this was the time of the Space Race. The prime minister doesn't intend to use this money for some space program, but for more practical needs like plumbing - especially hot water. To save face, the Soviets send an obsolete rocket - though it looks good and is quite big.
The prime minister's son (Bernard Cribbins), just returned from an education in England, is idealistic enough to think that a trip to the moon is doable and hopes to be the astronaut for the trip. He teams with the local genius professor (David Kossoff) to make this trip a reality. Terry-Thomas plays a British spy who sneaks in to find out what is going on. The prime minister comes up with a further swindle - a rocket launch that will go bad, thereby gaining more sympathy (and money) for his country, but, implausibly, the trip to the moon is not so outlandish a thought. This was a more subdued comedy from Richard Lester, before he indulged in frenetic imagery, but he does throw in the occasional sight gag, to remind us of the absurdity in the situation. The key comic moment is in the final act, when the rocket slowly but surely flies into the air, to the disbelief of the visiting dignitaries, who felt sure that the whole thing was a hoax; the prime minister is also surprised. In theory, the mouse will beat both America and the USSR to the moon - but because the Fenwick rocket moves so slowly (3 weeks to get there using a new power source), the race is on...! BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
Trivia to the Moon:
in a small role as one of the American Astronauts at the end is Ed Bishop, best known as the lead in the UFO series (1970-71)
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