Spaceways (1953)

76 mins | Science fiction | 7 August 1953

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HISTORY

According to a HR news item, Anthony Hinds, an executive with Exclusive/Hammer, was slated to produce the film, but only Michael Carreras, another executive with the company, is credited onscreen, along with American producer Robert L. Lippert. Spaceways was filmed in England. Modern sources add that the released film includes some footage from the 1950 motion picture Rocketship X-M (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ... More Less

According to a HR news item, Anthony Hinds, an executive with Exclusive/Hammer, was slated to produce the film, but only Michael Carreras, another executive with the company, is credited onscreen, along with American producer Robert L. Lippert. Spaceways was filmed in England. Modern sources add that the released film includes some footage from the 1950 motion picture Rocketship X-M (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Jul 1953.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jun 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1952
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1953
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 53
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Jul 53
p. 1902.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Freely adpt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the radio play "Spaceways" by Charles Eric Maine (BBC, 1942).
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 August 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 June 1953
Production Date:
mid November 1952--early January 1953 at Bray Studios, Windsor, England
Copyright Claimant:
Exclusive Films, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
28 December 1952
Copyright Number:
LP2659
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76
Length(in feet):
6,858
Length(in reels):
8
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16440
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In England, American engineer Dr. Stephen Mitchell and his British colleagues, biologist Dr. Phillip Crenshaw and fuel expert Dr. Toby Andrews, report on the results of their most recent, top-secret rocket launch to the head of the space program, Dr. Keppler. After showing the film footage of the rocket’s flight to Gen. Hays of the defense council, Steve announces that they are ready to produce a satellite for permanent orbit around Earth. At a cocktail party that night, Keppler announces that the defense council has approved the satellite project. Steve’s wife Vanessa, who is unenthused about both the project and living on the high-security base at Deanfield, slips away from the party with Crenshaw, with whom she is having an affair. Steve walks home with project mathematician Lisa Frank, who is secretly in love with him. When Steve returns home, Vanessa complains about their marriage and living situation. She is unaware, however, that Steve saw her kissing Crenshaw, with whom she is planning on running away. When the new rocket is launched, it fails to reach its maximum height and is therefore unable to deploy the satellite. The launch is considered a failure, and the scientists are then surprised to learn that Crenshaw and Vanessa have disappeared. Lisa consoles Steve, although he admits that he had fallen out of love with Vanessa years earlier. Hays believes that the rocket’s failure and the disappearances are connected and contacts military intelligence, which sends Dr. Smith to secretly investigate. Smith subtly questions everyone at Deanfield, but when Toby catches him in a lie, he admits to his mission and asks Toby’s help. ... +


In England, American engineer Dr. Stephen Mitchell and his British colleagues, biologist Dr. Phillip Crenshaw and fuel expert Dr. Toby Andrews, report on the results of their most recent, top-secret rocket launch to the head of the space program, Dr. Keppler. After showing the film footage of the rocket’s flight to Gen. Hays of the defense council, Steve announces that they are ready to produce a satellite for permanent orbit around Earth. At a cocktail party that night, Keppler announces that the defense council has approved the satellite project. Steve’s wife Vanessa, who is unenthused about both the project and living on the high-security base at Deanfield, slips away from the party with Crenshaw, with whom she is having an affair. Steve walks home with project mathematician Lisa Frank, who is secretly in love with him. When Steve returns home, Vanessa complains about their marriage and living situation. She is unaware, however, that Steve saw her kissing Crenshaw, with whom she is planning on running away. When the new rocket is launched, it fails to reach its maximum height and is therefore unable to deploy the satellite. The launch is considered a failure, and the scientists are then surprised to learn that Crenshaw and Vanessa have disappeared. Lisa consoles Steve, although he admits that he had fallen out of love with Vanessa years earlier. Hays believes that the rocket’s failure and the disappearances are connected and contacts military intelligence, which sends Dr. Smith to secretly investigate. Smith subtly questions everyone at Deanfield, but when Toby catches him in a lie, he admits to his mission and asks Toby’s help. Toby then reveals that on the night of the cocktail party, he found Crenshaw alone in the laboratory and knew the scientist was lying when he claimed he had left his house key there. Smith then reveals that Crenshaw had an engineering degree from Germany, which he concealed from everyone. Convinced that no one could leave the base because of the tight security, Smith alleges that Steve murdered Crenshaw and Vanessa and hid their bodies in the fuel tanks of the rocket, which would explain the mission’s failure. As Steve returns home that night, Smith approaches him and admits that Crenshaw was a traitor and a spy. Steve, however, refuses to cooperate with Smith. When Lisa visits him with news that she has discovered an error in their calculations, Steve no longer withholds his feelings for her, and they kiss. The next day, Steve proposes that he go up in a second rocket in an attempt to bring the first rocket, which is in a low orbit, back to Earth. Steve hopes that this would prove his innocence as well as his dream that humans can travel in space. Although Keppler initially opposes the mission because of potential safety hazards, Smith approves the plan. As launch time nears, Smith learns from the head of base security, Col. Alfred Daniels, that there had been a new member on his team at the time of Crenshaw’s disappearance. Anxious to remove any doubts about Steve’s guilt, Smith learns that the guard died in an accident involving Crenshaw a week earlier. Smith continues his investigation and, with the police, locates Crenshaw and Vanessa at a seaside cottage. Preparations for the launch continue, meanwhile, and Lisa convinces Toby to get permission to join Steve, but then allow her to take his place. At the cottage, Vanessa confronts Crenshaw because he is taking her east instead of to America. Crenshaw threatens her with a gun and when Smith attacks him, the gun discharges and kills her. Crenshaw is arrested, but Smith is unable to contact Deanfield before the launch. After completion of the first stage of the rocketship’s journey, the scientists remove their helmets and Steve is shocked to see his beloved Lisa onboard. Smith finally reaches Deanfield and reports the news of Crenshaw’s treachery and Vanessa’s death. When Steve contacts them by radio, Keppler and Smith beseech him to discontinue the mission. Steve, however, attempts to complete the second stage by disconnecting the rocketship’s middle section. The resulting explosion knocks out both Steve and Lisa, and when they recover, they discover that the rocket is out of control. After some difficulty, Steve releases the emergency failsafe handle, and the first man and woman rocketeers are then able to return home. +

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.