Michael Carreras for Hammer, Lippert Pictures
directed by Terence Fisher
starring Howard Duff, Eva Bartok, Alan Wheatley, Philip Leaver, Michael Medwin, Andrew Osborn, Cecile Chevreau, Anthony Ireland, Hugh Moxey, David Horne, Leo Phillips, Marianne Stone, Jean Webster-Brough
screenplay by Richard H.Landau, Paul Tabori, based on the radio play by Charles Eric Maine, music by Ivor Stanley
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American scientist Dr Mitchell (Howard Duff) heads a British research
team entrusted with the task to shoot satellites into space (something
completely novel in 1953 of course) - much to the dismay of his wife
Vanessa (Cecile Chevreau), who doesn't like life on a top secret military
base and thinks he should (and actually could) earn more, too. The first
rocket launch to shoot a satellite into orbit though proves to be a
failure since the final stage of the rocket inexplicably lacked sufficient
fuel. Sure, it still sufficed to shoot the thing up there and keep it in
orbit for a few decades, but eventually it will come down.
Interestingly, on the day of the launch, Mitchell's wife disappears with
his colleague Crenshaw (Andrew Osborn), whom she is known to have had an
affair with, and since apparently nobody could leave the base, soon there
is talk of murder. An outside investigator and fellow scientist is soon
brought in, Dr Smith (Alan Wheatley), who soon establishes that Crenshaw
was a foreign spy - but he also figures Mitchell has killed him and his
wife and hid them in the rocket's fueltank to destroy all eviodence for
good. Mitchell finds himself cornered in such a way that he offers to take
a second rocket to outer space to retrieve the satellite and clear his
name - which is ok with everyone, apart from Mitchell's colleague Lisa
(Eva Bartok), who has long been in love with him and now refuses to let
him go - but when she realizes she can't hold him back, she sneaks into
the rocket with him ...
Smith meanwhile follows another lead, and
eventually tracks down Crenshaw, very much alive, who has shot Vanessa
dead only moments before he could be apprehended. Of course, it's too late
to stop the rocket launch now, and the journey to outer space almost kills
Mitchell and Lisa ... but only almost.
A film that seems to be
terribly undecided what it wants to be, science fiction (of the space race
variety), espionage flick, murder mystery, or even love story - and while
genre blends like this can be quite interesting, this film is not, it
quite simply lacks a clear direction it wants to go into and as a result
lacks tension and suspense, but also is rather weak on the science fiction
elements, that seem to constantly take aq backseat behind everything else.
Not one of Terence Fisher's better films and not really worth a watch.