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From the Earth to the Moon 1958
Description: Set just after the American civil war, businessman and inventor Victor Barbicane invents a fresh source of power named Power X. He plans to test it to power rockets, and to present its potential he plans to send a projectile to the moon. Joining him for the trip are his assistant Ben Sharpe, Barbicane's arch-rival Stuyvesant Nicholl, and Nicholl's daughter Virginia. Nicholl believes that Power X goes vs the will of God and sabotages the projectile so that they cannot return to earth, setting up a suspenseful finale as they war to repair the projectile.
Released: 29 Mar 1964 Director: Byron Haskin Writers: Jules Verne (novels), Robert Blees (screenplay), James Leicester (screenplay) Actors: Joseph Cotten, George Sanders, Debra Paget, Don Dubbins Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
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From the Earth to the Moon Reviews:

After TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS it is most likely that the most famous of Jules Verne's games (the ones that most folks are familiar with) is his 1865 novel FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, together with it's first sequel, the 1870 novel AROUND THE MOON. What fascinates everyone is that for all the errors we actually know of Verne's large cannon concept (it would crush and vaporize the zone travelers before they left the cannon's mouth) he was on goal on so many points. He felt the Americans would do it first (we did - though barely); It would be sent from Florida (near where Cape Kennedy is located, by the way); Texas would be necessary in the project (in the novel Texas wants the honor of being the website of the cannon, but in reality Nasa's central zone tracking center is in Houston); The capsule would be bullet shaped (not quite correct, but look at the rockets we used); The capsule would return to the world and land in the Atlantic, to be recovered by an American battleship. Great guesswork (or homework) Jules! To be fair to Verne, even his cannon concept was not a terrible one - it was more plausible than Cyrano de Bergerac's bottles of morning dew (which his poetic fancy told would lift the traveler) or Poe's gratis flying balloon in HANS PFALL. But what is not noticed by most readers (due to translations) is Verne's social and political satire. He liked Americans, but he recognized our bellicosity, self-image building (we everytime did it better than anyone else) and our economic and political expansionism. Verne, like many Frenchmen, supported Lincoln and the North in the Civil War, especially after the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1887 he wrote a two volume novel NORTH AND SOUTH, in which the Confederates are the villains. But he saw American enterprise as haphazard and not well planned. He was very critical of it in THE FLOATING ISLAND, where greed by American millionaires destroys a remarkable artificial island. Even in his first published novel, FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON, at a philosophical moment one of the characters tells that if the globe ever is destroyed an American will have a hand in it.So in the novel, the Baltimore Gun Club members are all leading engineers who helped the Northern cause by building better guns and cannon. Most of them are missing limbs as a result. The President of the club, J.P. Barbicane (in some versions his name is "Impey" Barbicane) has his limbs. His closest associate, the club's secretary, J.T. Maston, has most of his body, but has one hook for a hand. They are the only members with "in tact" bodies. The club is seeking something to do with it's time, after the Confederacy collapses. Barbicane suggests building the "Columbiad" (which, by the way, is the cannon, not the projectile) to travel or communicate with the moon. The plan is barely presented when Maston suggests using the cannon instead to annex Mexico! See - Verne has our bellicosity down quite pat.Barbicane has a wartime rival, one Captain Nicholl. Nicholl specialized in better and better armor. Barbicane specialized in better and better shells to pierce the armor. Nicholl will later become the leading critic of the scheme.Verne (in true life) was a mate of the prominent aeronaut and photographer, Nadar. Nadar became the model for the French adventurer Michel Ardan (note the anagram last name for "Nadar") who proposes traveling in the projectile to the moon. Barbicane and Nicholl end up joining him (while Maston will be in charge of carefully following their travel by strong telescope). The flight now had nice precision in detailing the length of the trip (four days) and in showing the nice result of weightlessness (Verne noted that by leaving the gravity field of world this would result). The capsule never lands on the moon (it couldn't, because if it had it would not have been capable of getting back. Verne explains that there is a miscalculation in the calculations of the trajectory. This enables the moon to support send the capsule back to earth.Nadar/Ardan is not in the movie. Nicholl does not become so fully involved and willing to work with Barbicane as the novel shows. George Sanders' Stuyvesant Nicholl ("Stuyvesant"?) remains hostile to Joseph Cotton's Victor Barbicane (what happened to "Impey") up to a several mins before the conclusion. There is no power X in the novel - no fresh energy source. The film was made in the 1950s, so the public had to think that Verne was thinking in terms of atomic power. Now he never did. There is no romance between the kids of Sanders and Cotton. These changes in the movie support weaken the movie in comparison to the novel (which still reads well - test to receive the translation by Walter Miller that is the greatest in English).This was not the only movie ver of the novel. The classic early movie by George Melies, A TRIP TO THE MOON, has a period charm that makes one forget it's cardboard backgrounds (and it's projectile in the eye of the boy in the moon is a classic moment of cinema). And then there was the movie ROCKET TO THE MOON which turned the storyline into an all-star comedy with Burl Ives, Terry-Thomas, Lionel Jeffries, and Dennis Price.Verne was not complete with his travelers either, after AROUND THE MOON. In 1889 he wrote THE PURCHASE OF THE NORTH POLE, where the Gun Club decides to test the Columbiad to alter the tilt of the globe. Ardan does not reappear, but Barbicane, Nicholl, and Marston do. It is not as nice a novel as the first two.


A scientist (Joseph Cotton) and a millionaire arms dealer (George Sanders) squad up on the construction of a rocket to blast themselves to the Moon. This film was based on a Jules Verne classic -- but it fully lacks the charm and the quality of `Journey to the Center of the Earth' and `20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'.Even though the cast contains Morris Ankrum (the Grand Old Boy of vintage sci-fi) to deliever dignity, and Debra Paget to deliever scenery (watch `Princess of the Nile' and go quietly insane), it wasn't enough to save this numbingly slow and unappealing film.Some of the unique results are astoundingly bad, considering the fair production standards. In the scenes of the blast-off, the helping bar which holds up the rocket model is clearly visible! Fanatics of `Forbidden Planet' will notice the massive test of the `electronic tonalities' borrowed from that classic. Directed by Byron Haskins, who did both `War of the Worlds' and `The Conquest of Space'.


I feel tvholic's views are a bit harsh. It mustn't be forgotten that Verne wrote this in 1865 some thirty years before Wells wrote 'War of the Worlds". It gotta also be remembered that RKO was going broke at the time so unique results were not what they could have been. Stars Joseph Cotten and George Sanders did well with the script they had. Where this will not go down as a nice sci fi movie, it is still an interesting one if for no another reason than the interplay between Cotten and Sanders.Stories like Fight of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Around the Globe in 80 Days have lent themselves to the test of unique results and unfortunately for this film, the movie production company did not have the wherewithal to have results in the same class as the aforementioned three.



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