Satellite in the Sky (1956 UK)

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Satellite in the Sky (1956 UK)

Post  BoG on Thu May 14, 2015 3:03 pm

This has the distinction of being the first British sci-fi film in color and CinemaScope. The plot concerns the launch of the rocketship Stardust (piloted by hero Kieron Moore), first a test flight and then into orbit. Lois Maxwell, future Ms. Moneypenny in the Bond films, plays an opinionated reporter (she thinks it's a waste of time and money, considering all of Earth's problems, as well as too dangerous) who has some friction with the hero but the two soon fall for each other. As written elsewhere, this has the now standard slow British pace but is usually interesting to look at. It emphasizes the now-classic look and feel of giant rockets, emblematic of the golden age of sci-fi cinema.
Things get complex when the pilot finds out that the true purpose of this experimental flight is military - he is to transport the new “tritonium” bomb up there, where it will be exploded; this bomb is much more powerful than previous bombs (Hydrogen, Atomic) and would cause too much damage if exploded on Earth. A further complication - and a very unlikely one - is that the female reporter manages to stowaway aboard the rocketship when it launches on its mission. Most of the male crew don't mind her presence, but one older nasty scientist (Donald Wolfit) is very upset - though he's upset over everything. As the hero points out, if the calculations for a successful launch were based on precise weight, she may have killed all of them ("I didn't think of that" she says meekly).
The final complication - and the biggest one - is that the bomb's propulsion fails and it drifts back to attach itself to the rocketship. It now looks like all of the reporter's misgivings have been realized. For the final half-hour, it looks like the rocketship and its crew will blow up with the bomb, unless... some sacrifice is made. There's some clumsy, unnecessary soap opera stuff involving a couple of astronauts and the women in their lives and the conflict aboard the ship after the bomb gets hooked to the ship is a bit over-wrought (Wolfit's mean scientist panics). Maxwell seems caught up in overemotional rhetoric - the fate of many a female characters those days. Still, it's not a bad trip into outer space. BoG's Score: 5.5 out of 10
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