Man in the Moon (film)

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Man in the Moon
"Man in the Moon" (1960).jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byBasil Dearden
Produced byMichael Relph
Written byJohn Foley
Bryan Forbes
Michael Relph
StarringKenneth More
Shirley Anne Field
Music byPhilip Green
CinematographyHarry Waxman
Edited byJohn D. Guthridge
Production
company
Excalibur Films
Allied Film Makers
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Trans-Lux Distributing Corporation (U.S.)
Release date
  • 31 October 1960 (1960-10-31)
Running time
98 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget£202,000[1]

Man in the Moon is a 1960 comedy film directed by Basil Dearden. The film stars Kenneth More and Shirley Anne Field.[2]

Plot[edit]

William Blood (More) is a man who appears to be immune to all known diseases, and possesses extraordinary resistance to heat and cold – a fact he puts down to his carefree, single life, never being worried by anything. He makes a living working for medical researchers who are trying to find cures for various diseases and conditions (notably the common cold and seasickness).

Blood is offered a job to become the passenger of a high altitude test flight by Dr Davidson (Hordern), but the real job is to become the first man to land on the Moon. The truth is kept from him because of the danger involved. He undertakes training with three other potential astronauts, including Leo (Gray), all more qualified for the job but without Blood's extraordinary resistances. Blood never really fits in with the others and, when a £100,000 reward is posted for the first man to land on the Moon, they seek to sabotage his chances and have one of their number selected instead.

When Blood meets and falls in love with an attractive stripper named Polly (Field), he begins to lose his immunity. Spurred by the news of the reward, he decides to continue his training so that he and Polly will be able to afford a new home when he returns. Leo becomes insanely jealous and tries to sabotage Blood's training, but he manages to survive the attempt. When the scientists realise that Leo is the saboteur they use a session in a sensory deprivation chamber to brainwash him into believing he is Blood's best friend. Later, when Polly falls into a river and is in danger of drowning, Leo saves her but allows Blood to take the credit.

Once their training is complete, the astronauts are flown to the Whoomera rocket base and Blood takes part in what appears to be a completely successful launch. Three days later he steps out of his capsule onto what appears to be the moon's surface. While exploring he is startled by what appears to be an extraterrestrial being, and then spots a used baked bean can. His capsule had ejected from the rocket prematurely, landing him in the Australian desert only a few miles from Whoomera, and the "alien" turns out to be a man prospecting for uranium.

Making his way back to the base, Blood tells the scientists "back to the drawing board". Back in England, he and Polly take part in a test for family planning; the three cots by their bed indicate that the test has been successful.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In order to make Man in the Moon appear authentic, the production company spent months "in scientific research" so that "those scenes in which the space men are trained for their trip to the moon" were credible. "With the consent of the British Air Ministry, certain top-secret information -including experiments in rocket propulsion, conditions under tests, and the reactions of bodies to extreme pressure – was made available. More data came from America and, strangely, even more from Russian sources".[3][Note 1]

Reception[edit]

Man in the Moon had a Royal Charity Premiere attended by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 31 October 1960 at the Odeon Leicester Square[4] and entered general release on the Rank circuit (Odeons and Gaumonts) from mid-January 1961. On its United States release, film reviewer Bosley Crowther described the plot as following a course of "appropriately wacky illogic". He further considered More the key to the "utterly slapdash film, which qualifies for attention because of its cheerfulness and Mr. More".[5]

Unexpectedly, considering the talents involved, Man in the Moon performed disappointingly at the box office. It has been called "More's first real flop" since he became a movie star.[6] By 1971, the film was still £37,000 short of breaking even.[1]

DVD release[edit]

Man in the Moon is available on Region 2 DVD.

Novelisation[edit]

A novelisation of the Man in the Moon screenplay was written by John Foley and published in the UK by Four Square Books, Ltd. The copyright date of 1960 would indicate that it was published slightly in advance of the film's general release. The book runs 160 pages and contains a four-page insert of black-and-white movie stills.

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In Man in the Moon, More drives a three-wheeled Messerschmitt KR200 car.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Walker 1974, p. 105.
  2. ^ "Man in the Moon". AllMovie. Retrieved: 13 December 2014.
  3. ^ "First man on the moon — or was he?" The Australian Women's Weekly via National Library of Australia, 12 July 1961, p. 18. Retrieved: 6 May 2012.
  4. ^ The Times (London) online archive, 31 October/1 November 1960.
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Man in the Moon (1960); The screen: British astronaut farce: Kenneth More stars in 'Man in the Moon'; Comedy treats space race irreverently." The New York Times, 13 June 1961.
  6. ^ Shipman 1989, p. 415.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars: The International Years. London: Macdonald, 1989. ISBN 978-0-20795-858-8.
  • Walker, Alexander. Hollywood, England: The British Film Industry in the Sixties. New York: Stein and Day, 1974. ISBN 978-0-81281-549-8.

External links[edit]