Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Screen -- Flight to Mars (1951)

 "Flight to Mars" is one of the first color science fiction films, and the first film to feature a trip to the planet Mars.  Produced by Monogram Pictures and filmed using the two-color CineColor process which allows the image color to come through very well, though the overall quality of the print that I viewed is a little scratchy.

The story is about a group of scientists and a news reporter being rocketed into space on a journey to the planet Mars. Of course coming before the advent of manned space flight to any planet the principle behind the special effects used are a little rough around the edges.  At takeoff the launch essentially consists of shaking hands with the reporters gathered at the base of the launch pad, and closing and latching the door behind them as the group gets aboard the ship.  Spacesuits are nothing more than leather bomber jackets and uniforms used by pilots in WWII.  And as they get ready for liftoff everyone gets into their standard issue military type cots and strap in for takeoff with a couple of leather belts, with the actual liftoff being initiated by the pilot pushing the button on a handheld clicker. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make fun of the film it's actually pretty good, but the special effects and the film itself are definitely on the low budget end of the spectrum.  During the flight the crew encounters the usual dangers associated with space flight including meteor storms and a crash landing on the planet.  Upon arrival on Mars the crew then wonders if  a return trip back to Earth is even possible.  Mars as we all know is a hotbed of beautiful women in miniskirts and high heels as well as sinister men plotting to commandeer the rebuilt space ship and fly it back to takeover the Earth.  The film is a must-see for any fan of the 50s sci-fi genre.
The film stars Cameron Mitchell as "Steve Abbot", a cute and perky Virginia Huston as "Carol Stafford", John Litel as "Dr. Lane", and a very leggy Marguerite Chapman as "Alita"

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