Rocketship X-M (1950)

77-78 mins | Science fiction | 2 June 1950

Writer:

Kurt Neumann

Producer:

Kurt Neumann

Cinematographer:

Karl Struss

Editor:

Harry Gerstad

Production Company:

Lippert Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were None Came Back , Rocket Ship to the Moon , and Journey into the Unknown . The onscreen credit reads: "Produced--Written and Directed by Kurt Neumann." According to a news item in DV , portions of the film were shot on location in Death Valley, California. A red-tinted stock was used for the scenes set on Mars. Modern sources and contemporary news items report that producer Robert L. Lippert rushed the film into production and into theaters to capitalize on publicity generated by Destination Moon (see above), a space exploration story released in Aug 1950. A press fact sheet contained in the Destination Moon production file at the AMPAS Library, titled "A Slight Case of Mistaken Identity," enumerated the differences between the two films, noting Destination Moon 's greater investment of research, production time and money.
       According to a HR news item, Lippert Productions was sued in 1954 by writer John Weiz, who claimed the film plagiarized his story, "The Rocket," which was copyrighted in 1944. The outcome of the suit is not known. In 1976, producer Wade Williams acquired the rights to the film and added three minutes of new special effects footage. Rocketship X-M is recognized by modern sources as one of the first films to present a cautionary message about atomic energy, a theme that would later become a staple of science-fiction films. Modern sources add Judd Holdren to the ... More Less

The working titles of this film were None Came Back , Rocket Ship to the Moon , and Journey into the Unknown . The onscreen credit reads: "Produced--Written and Directed by Kurt Neumann." According to a news item in DV , portions of the film were shot on location in Death Valley, California. A red-tinted stock was used for the scenes set on Mars. Modern sources and contemporary news items report that producer Robert L. Lippert rushed the film into production and into theaters to capitalize on publicity generated by Destination Moon (see above), a space exploration story released in Aug 1950. A press fact sheet contained in the Destination Moon production file at the AMPAS Library, titled "A Slight Case of Mistaken Identity," enumerated the differences between the two films, noting Destination Moon 's greater investment of research, production time and money.
       According to a HR news item, Lippert Productions was sued in 1954 by writer John Weiz, who claimed the film plagiarized his story, "The Rocket," which was copyrighted in 1944. The outcome of the suit is not known. In 1976, producer Wade Williams acquired the rights to the film and added three minutes of new special effects footage. Rocketship X-M is recognized by modern sources as one of the first films to present a cautionary message about atomic energy, a theme that would later become a staple of science-fiction films. Modern sources add Judd Holdren to the cast. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Aug 1976.
---
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1950.
---
Daily Variety
25 Apr 50
pp. 3-4.
Film Daily
16 May 50
p. 5.
Harrison's Reports
6 May 50
p. 72.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1979.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 May 50
p. 287.
New York Times
27 May 50
p. 10.
Newsweek
5 Jun 1950.
---
The Exhibitor
10 May 50
p. 2847.
Variety
3 May 50
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des and art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
SOUND
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec photog eff created by
Mattes
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Instruments and tech equipment
Prod mgr
Set cont
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
None Came Back
Journey into the Unknown
Release Date:
2 June 1950
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 26 May 1950
Los Angeles and San Francisco opening: 27 May 1950
Production Date:
22 February--early March 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Lippert Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1950
Copyright Number:
LP159
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
77-78
Length(in feet):
6,977
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14470
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the government testing grounds at White Sands, New Mexico, research scientist Dr. Fleming holds a press conference to announce the imminent launch of the first manned spaceship, the R X-M, or Rocketship Expedition Moon. He introduces the crew: Dr. Karl Eckstrom, designer of the space craft; chemist Dr. Lisa Van Horn; pilot Col. Floyd Graham; astronomer Harry Chamberlin, who will serve as navigator; and engineer Major William Corrigan. Karl presents the flight plan and explains they plan to reach the moon in forty-eight hours. After the rocketship is launched, the crew members marvel at the sight of planet Earth as they leave its orbit. Fourteen hours into the flight, however, the ship loses power, and Karl insists on altering the fuel mixture. Later, as the rest of the crew sleeps, Floyd tries to interest Lisa in romance, but a sudden meteor shower breaks the mood. After some mechanical adjustments, the new fuel ratio is tested and the ship accelerates rapidly, moving completely off course. Karl is astonished to discover that the ship is approaching Mars. After landing, the crew members leave the ship and begin to investigate the arid planet and its colorful rock formations. They come across part of a metal statue covered in sand, suggesting the presence of man on the planet at one time, and their instruments detect high levels of radioactivity. After commenting on man's tendency toward self-destruction, Karl concludes that the planet's entire population was wiped out in an atomic blast. While the others are asleep, however, Harry sees a group of men emerge from the rocks. Karl and William set out to ... +


At the government testing grounds at White Sands, New Mexico, research scientist Dr. Fleming holds a press conference to announce the imminent launch of the first manned spaceship, the R X-M, or Rocketship Expedition Moon. He introduces the crew: Dr. Karl Eckstrom, designer of the space craft; chemist Dr. Lisa Van Horn; pilot Col. Floyd Graham; astronomer Harry Chamberlin, who will serve as navigator; and engineer Major William Corrigan. Karl presents the flight plan and explains they plan to reach the moon in forty-eight hours. After the rocketship is launched, the crew members marvel at the sight of planet Earth as they leave its orbit. Fourteen hours into the flight, however, the ship loses power, and Karl insists on altering the fuel mixture. Later, as the rest of the crew sleeps, Floyd tries to interest Lisa in romance, but a sudden meteor shower breaks the mood. After some mechanical adjustments, the new fuel ratio is tested and the ship accelerates rapidly, moving completely off course. Karl is astonished to discover that the ship is approaching Mars. After landing, the crew members leave the ship and begin to investigate the arid planet and its colorful rock formations. They come across part of a metal statue covered in sand, suggesting the presence of man on the planet at one time, and their instruments detect high levels of radioactivity. After commenting on man's tendency toward self-destruction, Karl concludes that the planet's entire population was wiped out in an atomic blast. While the others are asleep, however, Harry sees a group of men emerge from the rocks. Karl and William set out to investigate, and they soon discover a mutant race of humans, apparently the survivors of the atomic blast that devastated the planet. The creatures attack them with rocks, and William is killed. Badly injured, Karl makes it back to the ship and after telling his crewmates to report what they have seen, collapses and dies. The mutants then attack the remaining crew members, but Floyd and Lisa escape to the rocketship with the injured Harry and leave Mars. On the ship, Lisa discovers that they do not have enough fuel for a landing. Determined to see that their tragic mission was not in vain, Floyd and Lisa contact Dr. Fleming on the radio and tell him what has happened. As they plummet to their death, Floyd and Lisa embrace. Later, Dr. Fleming meets with reporters and maintains that the expedition was not a failure, and that construction of the next rocketship will begin tomorrow. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.