Destination Moon

Destination Moon

Director: Irving Pichel Cast: Warner Anderson, John Archer, Tom Powers

DVD (Pan & Scan)


One of the first two postwar feature films (along with Kurt Neumann's Rocketship X-M, which was started later but released first) to depict Americans making organized efforts to reach outer space, Destination Moon established the modern science-fiction film genre. This groundbreaking piece of cinema has also held up remarkably well over the decades, partly because it is such a well-produced entry into the genre. The script, based on Robert Heinlein's novel Rocketship Galileo, offers a plot that became the basic working model for technically based sci-fi for generations to come; even the use of an instructional film within the context of the action became a standard plot device in films for the next decade to explain to disbelieving audiences the basic science behind a sci-fi plot. And the subplot during the first third of the movie, about the attempts to delay and sabotage the mission, is forward-looking in its own way -- the Cold War had only just begun, and Hollywood had not yet jumped onto the anti-communist bandwagon, and the first wave of such films was only just starting when Destination Moon went into production. Although the source of the delaying tactics isn't ever named outright, it's clear that the enemy of the mission is the Soviet Union. Audiences responded at the box office to the overall quality of the movie, and the film community offered its own acknowledgement of the makers' achievement -- shot in color and very handsomely produced, Destination Moon became the first sci-fi film to win an Academy Award (for Best Special Effects). This DVD edition, part of Image Entertainment's Wade Williams Collection, is a beautiful representation of the movie. The colors are solid and deep, yet realistic; the sound is consistent and clear; and the picture is so sharp that parts of it look almost 3-D. The movie doesn't simply look good or rely on effects, however -- it is well acted and directed, with excellent dramatic pacing and finely wrought characterizations. John Archer, Warner Anderson, and Tom Powers' depictions of the men behind the mission express a 1940s-era vitality that is still bracing to watch. The disc divides the movie into 15 chapters that mark out all of the major story points -- the menu, which must be accessed manually, is easy to negotiate, and at the end of it is the original theatrical trailer, which is not only an honest representation of the movie's action and highlights, but, in its opening shot, also momentarily masquerades as a newsreel. Its depiction of the number of newspapers and magazines that had done features on the production is still a remarkable account of the film's pop culture impact at the time. The packaging also includes well-detailed annotation recounting the production by author Tom Weaver.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/29/2000
UPC: 0014381875423
Original Release: 1950
Rating: NR
Source: Image Entertainment
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [Full Frame]
Sound: [Dolby Digital Mono]
Time: 1:31:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Warner Anderson Dr. Charles Cargraves
John Archer Jim Barnes
Tom Powers General Thayer
Dick Wesson Joe Sweeney
Ted Warde Brown
Erin O'Brien-Moore Emily Cargraves
Michael Miller Actor

Technical Credits
Irving Pichel Director
Ernst Fegte Production Designer
Duke Goldstone Editor
Robert A. Heinlein Screenwriter
Walter Lantz Animator
Lionel Lindon Cinematographer
William Lynch Sound/Sound Designer
George Pal Producer
James Rice Screenwriter
George Sawley Set Decoration/Design
Leith Stevens Score Composer
Rip Van Ronkel Screenwriter
Lee Zavitz Special Effects

Scene Index

Side #1
1. Main Title; Sabotage [4:52]
2. Lunch or the Moon? [5:13]
3. Rocketeering Basics [9:26]
4. The Race Is On [10:10]
5. Blast Off [9:12]
6. A Safe Orbit [5:33]
7. Walking in Space [6:58]
8. Adrift [5:01]
9. Touch Down [5:31]
10. One Small Step [6:36]
11. The Lunar Lab [5:31]
12. Stripping Down [4:49]
13. The Ultimate Sacrifice [4:19]
14. Joe Bails Out [5:02]
15. Homeward Bound [2:42]

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Destination Moon 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
It may be colorful and exciting the first time, but now it just seems like another piece of military-industrial-complex propaganda. We needed the Moon as a base to control the world. That B.S. died when the first ICBM flew. I know just about every sci-fi movie has to have a stupid sidekick, but this one is nauseating. With its micro budget and black-and-white and tiny shooting schedule, and the fact that it beat the big studio to the theaters, ROCKETSHIP X-M has DESTINATION MOON slammed as a far more human and humane movie. DM has some Disney gloss--and a cartoon yet to prove it--but is still nuclear-powered hogwash by comparison. Fuel mixtures are still a prime concern for space travel, but atomic energy is relegated to just for electrical power in deep space. Using rocket stages in RXM is closer to the truth, and there really have been accidents. If all we care about is Scientific Accuracy, then we shouldn't be looking at Science Fiction Movies at all anyway, but documentaries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was far ahead of it's time. The visuals are ahead of the times, and it gave a look at what was yet to come. It was exciting and funny at the same time. If you want escapism, this is it.
CKAWMO More than 1 year ago
As a baby boomer fan of the space program, I still find this type of film exciting and inspiring. It captures the mood of the time, when the future seemed bright and rewarding in space. Other than some of the actual hardware we finally used, it is still accurate and prescient in what we would experience, and sticks to a "man vs. nature" conflict, which is the one thing that will not change as we move out into space.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a Rober Henlein fan then this movie is a must see. He wrote the script for it. This movie shows a lot of correct science for the 1950's era which no other movie of that time ever did. Plus the story is a classic.