Friday, December 9, 2016

1950s Moon Movies: Project Moon Base

Welcome back folks for Day 2 of 1950s Moon Movies. As mentioned I really enjoyed Destination Moon given it was Robert A Heinlein's writing and technical expertise in Spaaaaaaaace!! Alas while today's film is also written by Heinlein(Rocket Ship Galileo, Have Space Suit-Will Travel, Farmer in the Sky, Starman Jones, Red Planet, Starship Troopers and The Puppet Masters) I still feel the execution of the film may fall on its ear. I just have a hard time believing in a really good run of films unless I take it out of my own personal library but dammit we will give this a try. This is Project Moonbase.

Bullet bras of THE FUTURE!!!

In the far distant future of 1970... General Greene (Hayden Rorke of Father's Little Dividend, Pillow Talk, The Night Walker, I Dream of Jeannie, Police Woman and Arthur Hailey's the Moneychangers) needs perspective bases scouted out but the scuttlebutt is foreign spies are attempting to undermine their mission so has to have his best pilots to investigate.

To the public, it looks like yet another visit to the moon is led by Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell of Abbot and Costello Meet the Killer, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, Ten Wanted Men, Outlaws, Bonanza and Grace Kelly) needing to be the objective and snap decision maker that she is. (See kids, Robert A Heinlein's novels did their level best to give equality to men and women and show they were capable of every dangerous scenario men were) Briteis is annoyed to with Greene giving her Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford of Challenge to Lassie, Air Hostess, Project Moon Base, Reform School Girl, Assignment: Underwater, The Case of the Dangerous Robin, Rawhide and My Living Doll) as her co-pilot.

Oh God, I farted in my suit and the filter isn't working!

In spite of him being one of the best pilots in the service, Moore and Briteis have some serious friction between them. Moore was passed over for a promotion and is rather pissed that he has to serve under a woman. Imagine such a thing. There is enough sexual tension between these two they could power a rocket themselves. Briteis has difficulties with patching up the radio and tuning it properly and Moore grumbles, talks under his breath and gets the job done. Apparently there is a saboteur on-board the ship that damaged the vessel. Briteis has to put the ship down for repairs. Still when you hear a bit of dialogue like, "Major, I think you're space happy," it may come off as a bit of camp and well you would be correct. My biggest problem of this film is Briteis doesn't even come across as competent and capable but an eager beaver and almost like a petulant girl.

Okay a quick few points to make. While Heinlein was damn progressive, the 1950s could only allow so much via film so yes you have a female leader and for that matter, a female president giving a bit more weight to the writing but, they need to be coaxed or motivated by men. Yup. A woman could manage a position of power but clearly they are so bird brained they need a pat on the head and a treat for a job well done. Charming. The other issues is this was a pilot for a TV serial that apparently didn't get picked up. Most of the costumes and props hailed from Cat Women of the Moon so um... glad they recycled?

Why yes, I am white and doughy but what's yer point?

Now given this is a Heinlein write-up, you can really feel his influence in the female characters but the tropes of their incompetency really detracts the progressive ideals he went with. Methinks some producers couldn't have "broads" outshining the fellas. Ugh. That being said, this is really the building blocks of future female protagonists that can kick ass and smile while doing it. Maria Von Trapp, Leia, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Alex Owens of Flashdance, Clarice Starling of Silence of the Lambs,Cher Horowitz of Clueless to name a few.

If anything, Mad Max: Fury Road is hailed a bit too high for doing the very thing that movies have managed for some time now. Creating a strong, intelligent and capable female character is not difficult but above all else, don't forget the heart, writers. 

Sorry can't get Wheel in the Sky out of my head. Damn catchy tune.