Destination Moon (1950)

90-92 mins | Adventure, Science fiction | August 1950

Full page view
HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Operation Moon and Journey to the Moon . At the end of the film, the following words appear onscreen: "This is the end/of the beginning." According to the SAB , which was signed by George Pal, director Irving Pichel did a considerable amount of work on the screenplay, although he is not credited onscreen for this contribution. Pal chose to hire relatively unknown actors for the picture, fearing that famous or typecast performers would detract from the story's credibility. According to a 1 Aug 1949 LAT news item, Pal scouted small legitimate theaters throughout the country, accompanied by his associate Harry Henkle and film editor Duke Goldstone.
       According to information contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, pre-production work took more than a year and included consultations with military rocket engineers and scientists from California Institute of Technology. Photographs taken from the Palomar Observatory in San Diego were used to create the set for the moon. The film won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects and was nominated for Best Art Direction (Color). The film's special effects included miniatures, stop-frame animation and makeup devices to simulate the effect of gravitational pull on the actors' faces. It also received the Bronze Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Destination Moon was Eagle Lion Classics' highest-grossing film of 1950.
       Modern sources cite the film as a milestone in the development of the science fiction genre, noting that it portrayed space travel with unprecedented realism. The production marked the motion picture debut of comic actor Dick Wesson. ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Operation Moon and Journey to the Moon . At the end of the film, the following words appear onscreen: "This is the end/of the beginning." According to the SAB , which was signed by George Pal, director Irving Pichel did a considerable amount of work on the screenplay, although he is not credited onscreen for this contribution. Pal chose to hire relatively unknown actors for the picture, fearing that famous or typecast performers would detract from the story's credibility. According to a 1 Aug 1949 LAT news item, Pal scouted small legitimate theaters throughout the country, accompanied by his associate Harry Henkle and film editor Duke Goldstone.
       According to information contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, pre-production work took more than a year and included consultations with military rocket engineers and scientists from California Institute of Technology. Photographs taken from the Palomar Observatory in San Diego were used to create the set for the moon. The film won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects and was nominated for Best Art Direction (Color). The film's special effects included miniatures, stop-frame animation and makeup devices to simulate the effect of gravitational pull on the actors' faces. It also received the Bronze Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Destination Moon was Eagle Lion Classics' highest-grossing film of 1950.
       Modern sources cite the film as a milestone in the development of the science fiction genre, noting that it portrayed space travel with unprecedented realism. The production marked the motion picture debut of comic actor Dick Wesson. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Feb 50
p. 46, 58.
Box Office
8 Jul 1950.
---
Cue
1 Jul 1950.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jun 50
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1950.
---
Film Daily
26 Jun 50
p. 6.
Fortnight
18 Aug 1950.
---
Harrison's Reports
1 Jul 50
p. 102.
Hollywood Citizen-News
4 Aug 1950.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
10 Aug 1950.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
15 Aug 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 49
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 49
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 50
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 50
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
25 Oct 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Feb 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1950.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Jul 50
p. 366.
New Republic
10 Jul 1950.
---
New York Times
21 May 1950.
---
New York Times
28 Jun 50
p. 32.
New York Times
9 Jul 1950.
---
Time
10 Jul 1950.
---
Variety
28 Jun 50
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
Wrt for the screen by
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Tech adv of astronomical art
Tech supv
ANIMATION
Cartoon sequences
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Rocketship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein (New York, 1947).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Journey to the Moon
Operation Moon
Release Date:
August 1950
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 27 June 1950
Production Date:
14 November--late December 1949 at General Service Studios
Copyright Claimant:
George Pal Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1950
Copyright Number:
LP232
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
90-92
Length(in feet):
8,221
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14432
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At an Army testing site, General Thayer watches as a satellite rocket is launched. The rocket crashes, but Dr. Charles Cargraves, who has been developing the rocket for the last four years, vows to continue his work. Thayer later visits Jim Barnes, owner of an aircraft company, and tells him he suspects the rocket was sabotaged. He also speculates that the next rocket built will have an engine powered by atomic energy and will travel to the moon. Jim is skeptical, but Thayer convinces him that the combined resources of American industry could put a rocket on the moon within a year. At a formal gathering, Jim tries to interest a consortium of industrial leaders in the project, and he shows them a "Woody Woodpecker" cartoon that explains how space travel could become a scientific reality. Thayer tells the group it is vital to global security that America be the first country to reach the moon, warning that a foreign power could use the moon as a missile base and thus gain control of the earth. The industrialists are persuaded, and work on the new rocket begins. When the spaceship, Luna, is finished, Charles receives word that the government has denied his request to test it at the construction site, citing concerns about radioactive fallout. Growing public opposition to the project leads Jim to suspect they have been targeted by a subversive propaganda campaign, and he decides to launch the rocket without waiting for permission. The preparations for takeoff are almost completed when radio technician Joe Sweeney tells Jim and Charles that Brown, who was to man the spaceship, has been taken ... +


At an Army testing site, General Thayer watches as a satellite rocket is launched. The rocket crashes, but Dr. Charles Cargraves, who has been developing the rocket for the last four years, vows to continue his work. Thayer later visits Jim Barnes, owner of an aircraft company, and tells him he suspects the rocket was sabotaged. He also speculates that the next rocket built will have an engine powered by atomic energy and will travel to the moon. Jim is skeptical, but Thayer convinces him that the combined resources of American industry could put a rocket on the moon within a year. At a formal gathering, Jim tries to interest a consortium of industrial leaders in the project, and he shows them a "Woody Woodpecker" cartoon that explains how space travel could become a scientific reality. Thayer tells the group it is vital to global security that America be the first country to reach the moon, warning that a foreign power could use the moon as a missile base and thus gain control of the earth. The industrialists are persuaded, and work on the new rocket begins. When the spaceship, Luna, is finished, Charles receives word that the government has denied his request to test it at the construction site, citing concerns about radioactive fallout. Growing public opposition to the project leads Jim to suspect they have been targeted by a subversive propaganda campaign, and he decides to launch the rocket without waiting for permission. The preparations for takeoff are almost completed when radio technician Joe Sweeney tells Jim and Charles that Brown, who was to man the spaceship, has been taken to the hospital for an appendectomy. They ask Joe to take Brown's place, and he agrees, convinced that the rocket will not really work. After saying goodbye to his wife Emily, Charles joins Thayer, Jim and Joe in the spaceship, and they blast off. Once they are in orbit, the men don magnetic boots, which allow them to walk around in the weightless atmosphere of the capsule. When the men put on space suits and go outside the ship to repair an antenna, Charles loses contact with the ship and is cast adrift in space, but Jim uses blasts from an oxygen tank to propel himself toward Charles and lead them both to safety. The ship eventually approaches the moon, and after several failed attempts, they touch down. Charles and Jim emerge from the ship and claim the moon in the name of the United States. While the other crew members are conducting scientific tests, Jim communicates by radar with Dr. Hastings at the control tower, and Hastings confirms his fear that their difficulties during landing used up too much of their power, which means they may not be able to escape the moon's gravitational pull. Hastings instructs them to lighten the ship, and the men strip off nearly 3,000 pounds by removing metal fixtures and discarding all non-essential equipment. When Hastings tells them they must eliminate another 110 pounds, Thayer, Charles and Jim each volunteer to stay behind. They are about to draw lots when Joe sneaks out of the ship. He urges the others to leave, but Jim devises a way for them to discard the radio and the last space suit, thus reaching their weight goal. The ship takes off successfully, and the four men joyfully begin their journey back to earth. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.