From the Earth to the Moon (1958)

100 mins | Science fiction | November 1958

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HISTORY

The opening credits are presented in a leatherbound book, the cover of which states: "Warner Bros. presents From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne." A hand then opens the book to the first page which reads "Benedict Bogeaus Presents." The next page repeats the title and author credits as listed on the book's cover. Carl Esmond, who portrays a character referred to throughout the picture only as "J.V.," addresses the camera directly and identifies himself as "Jules Verne" at the end of the film.
       According to a Jun 1948 LAEx article, producer-director William Castle intended to make a documentary based on French author's Verne’s novel De la terre à la lune ( From the Earth to the Moon ), but that film was not produced. A Jun 1956 LAT item stated that the novel would be made into a film to be produced by an unspecified company abroad, starring Genevieve Page. An Oct 1957 HR news item indicates that Warner Bros. producer Bogeaus was to make From the Earth to the Moon and hoped to sign Errol Flynn for the lead role. A DV news item states that Lucienne Auclair, Miss Belgium 1957, would make her debut in the film, but her appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       Although a review indicates that the film was set in Florida, as was the novel, the exact location is not stated, only that the longitude and latitude of "Victor Barbicane's" mansion was "a day and night's journey from New York." The longitude and latitude ... More Less

The opening credits are presented in a leatherbound book, the cover of which states: "Warner Bros. presents From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne." A hand then opens the book to the first page which reads "Benedict Bogeaus Presents." The next page repeats the title and author credits as listed on the book's cover. Carl Esmond, who portrays a character referred to throughout the picture only as "J.V.," addresses the camera directly and identifies himself as "Jules Verne" at the end of the film.
       According to a Jun 1948 LAEx article, producer-director William Castle intended to make a documentary based on French author's Verne’s novel De la terre à la lune ( From the Earth to the Moon ), but that film was not produced. A Jun 1956 LAT item stated that the novel would be made into a film to be produced by an unspecified company abroad, starring Genevieve Page. An Oct 1957 HR news item indicates that Warner Bros. producer Bogeaus was to make From the Earth to the Moon and hoped to sign Errol Flynn for the lead role. A DV news item states that Lucienne Auclair, Miss Belgium 1957, would make her debut in the film, but her appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       Although a review indicates that the film was set in Florida, as was the novel, the exact location is not stated, only that the longitude and latitude of "Victor Barbicane's" mansion was "a day and night's journey from New York." The longitude and latitude stated in the film would place the story in Nebraska. The film was shot on location in Mexico. An Aug 1958 ^LAEx news item states that Bogeaus and special effects man Lee Zavitz, in collaboration with Technicolor engineers, had developed a new process called "Giantscope" which was said to be adaptable to color projection on all screens and would be used to photograph From the Earth to the Moon . There is no further information on the process.
       On the print viewed, the closing credits include the RKO Radio Pictures logo. A Mar 1961 DV news item discloses that Bogeaus lost a suit filed against him by RKO General, Inc. for failure to deliver two films, including From the Earth to the Moon , to RKO for foreign distribution, an agreement made before RKO's exchange system was abandoned. Reviews of the film made note of contemporary international interest in space flights following the 1957 launch by the Soviet Union of the Sputnik satellite. In 1958, the National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA) was established and America launched its first satellite, Explorer I , from Cape Canaveral, FL.
       Verne's popular novel De la terre à la Lune was also published in English under the titles The Baltimore Gun Club and The American Gun Club as well as From the Earth to the Moon . The story’s actual flight to the moon took place in the novel's 1870 sequel Autour de la lune ( Round the Moon ). Verne's novels were used as the basis for numerous films, including the early 1899 silent film by French filmmaker Georges Méliès, Le voyage dans la lune , and an expanded version by Méliès, with the same title, in 1902. In 1967 American International Productions released another version of the story, Those Fantastic Flying Fools , starring Burl Ives and Troy Donahue and directed by Don Stark (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961--70 ). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Nov 1958.
---
Daily Variety
19 Mar 1958.
---
Daily Variety
6 Nov 58
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1961.
---
Film Daily
6 Nov 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1958
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1958
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
8 Jun 1948.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
29 Oct 1957.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
19 Aug 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Nov 58
p. 52.
New York Times
27 Nov 58
p. 52.
Variety
12 Nov 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Stand-by dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Supv film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec cam eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel De la terre à la lune by Jules Verne (Paris, 1865).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1958
Production Date:
late January--late March 1958 in Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
Waverly Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 November 1958
Copyright Number:
LP15071
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
100
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19168
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1868 America, munitions mogul and inventor Victor Barbicane calls a meeting of the International Armaments Club at his sprawling mansion, Victory, to inform them of his development of an extremely powerful explosive, “Power X.” Barbicane explains that a rocket carrying Power X could destroy an entire city and, because of its dangerous properties, proposes building a great rocket to travel to the moon where he will test the abilities of Power X. Numerous wealthy businessmen in the club, including Josef Cartier, author Jules Verne, banker Morgana and scientist Aldo Von Metz, agree to support Barbicane’s fantastic project. Word rapidly spreads of Barbicane’s construction of a “super-rocket,” horrifying prominent metallurgist Stuyvesant Nicholl, a serious, religious man, who challenges Barbicane to a duel. When Barbicane refuses, Nicholl goes to Washington, D.C. where he reports to Congress that he has forged the hardest substance known to man and, insisting that Barbicane is lying about the potential of Power X, demands that Barbicane test it against his invention. Barbicane agrees and a test is soon arranged. Using only a few drops of Power X in a small bullet-shaped projectile, Barbicane not only completely annihilates Nicholl’s metal shield, but demolishes the mountain behind it. Plans for building the rocket proceed, providing employment and enthusiasm in the region, until Barbicane is summoned by President Ulysses S. Grant to a secret meeting. Grant informs the inventor that many nations believe that Power X gives America an unfair military advantage over them and twenty-two nations have stated that if Barbicane’s experiment is completed, they will consider it an act of war. Barbicane declares that as a ... +


In 1868 America, munitions mogul and inventor Victor Barbicane calls a meeting of the International Armaments Club at his sprawling mansion, Victory, to inform them of his development of an extremely powerful explosive, “Power X.” Barbicane explains that a rocket carrying Power X could destroy an entire city and, because of its dangerous properties, proposes building a great rocket to travel to the moon where he will test the abilities of Power X. Numerous wealthy businessmen in the club, including Josef Cartier, author Jules Verne, banker Morgana and scientist Aldo Von Metz, agree to support Barbicane’s fantastic project. Word rapidly spreads of Barbicane’s construction of a “super-rocket,” horrifying prominent metallurgist Stuyvesant Nicholl, a serious, religious man, who challenges Barbicane to a duel. When Barbicane refuses, Nicholl goes to Washington, D.C. where he reports to Congress that he has forged the hardest substance known to man and, insisting that Barbicane is lying about the potential of Power X, demands that Barbicane test it against his invention. Barbicane agrees and a test is soon arranged. Using only a few drops of Power X in a small bullet-shaped projectile, Barbicane not only completely annihilates Nicholl’s metal shield, but demolishes the mountain behind it. Plans for building the rocket proceed, providing employment and enthusiasm in the region, until Barbicane is summoned by President Ulysses S. Grant to a secret meeting. Grant informs the inventor that many nations believe that Power X gives America an unfair military advantage over them and twenty-two nations have stated that if Barbicane’s experiment is completed, they will consider it an act of war. Barbicane declares that as a scientist he has the right to test his invention, but Grant insists that internationally the trial is seen as a ruse to cover America’s play for global dominance. Barbicane reluctantly agrees to call off his experiment and accedes to the president’s request not to reveal the reasons for the decision. After Barbicane’s announcement of the cancellation of the Power X rocket, disgruntled investors and an expectant public attack him in the press. Several businessmen led by Morgana demand to purchase Power X from Barbicane, but he rejects their offer. Undaunted, Barbicane continues his scientific inquiries and upon examining the small remains of Nicholl’s shield from the test, learns that the fused material is indeed harder than any other substance. Barbicane realizes that he can use the substance to create a rocket that, fueled by Power X, will be safe enough to transport men into outer space. Barbicane meets with Nicholl and his daughter Virginia to request his help in building the rocket and, convinced that reaching the moon will be a great human achievement, Nicholl agrees. When the rocket is completed, Virginia christens it “Columbia,” and unknown to her father, Barbicane and his young assistant Ben Sharpe, she then sneaks onboard and hides in one of the pressurized space suits. Unaware of the stowaway, the men climb into special acceleration tubes and the rocket is successfully launched. In the air, Barbicane toasts to their success, but Nicholl admits he believes that the flight flaunts God’s natural laws. When the ship’s enormous gyroscope goes awry, Nicholl confesses that he sabotaged the ship’s rockets, determined to discredit Power X. When a gas leak prompts Ben to go below to retrieve the space suits, he is startled to find Virginia, who is dismayed to learn of her father’s sabotage. Realizing the ship could explode at any moment, Barbicane attempts to repair Nicholl’s damage, but is caught in an electronic burst in which Nicholl intentionally allows him to be shocked. Virginia is horrified by her father’s behavior, but he insists he is doing God’s will. Shortly after Barbicane recovers, the rocket flies into a meteor shower and Nicholl grudgingly admires the abilities of the Columbia. On Earth at an observatory tracking the rocket, Von Metz spots the great sparks given off by Columbia’s flight through the meteors and believes the ship has been destroyed. Newspaper publisher Bancroft tells Barbicane’s supporters that he suspects the entire flight is a hoax and that Barbicane has absconded with the contributors’ funds and gone into hiding nearby. On board the rocket, Barbicane informs Nicholl of his intention to sell every nation on Earth Power X and his confidence that because mankind would rather live than destroy itself, the substance would eventually be used for the greater good. Stunned by the notion, Nicholl is contrite about trying to destroy Power X, but Barbicane tells him that Power X is found in nature and will be discovered again in time. Barbicane soon realizes the ship will be unable to escape the moon’s gravitational pull unless they can fire the damaged rockets to break free. Nicholl comes to Barbicane’s aid when he again attempts to make repairs. Barbicane then suggests they try firing the rockets, sending the return module toward Earth while the rest of the ship might be pushed toward the moon. Ben insists on helping, but Nicholl knocks him out and places him with the distraught Virginia in the module. Barbicane fires the rockets successfully, sending Ben and Virginia back to Earth while he and Nicholl fall to the moon. Noting the rocket’s explosion from the observatory, Von Metz concludes the ship reached the moon only to blow up. As Ben guides the module to Earth, Virginia worries about her father until they see a small burst of light from the moon’s surface. Virginia is delighted that Earth has seen the signal, but Ben points out that it came from the moon side facing away from Earth and was meant for them as a sign that Barbicane and Nicholl landed safely. Ben assures Virginia that other men will someday fly to the moon again and that Barbicane and Nicholl will never be forgotten. +

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

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