Theatrical release title lobby card
|Directed by||James Neilson|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by||Maurice Tombragel
Robert Buckner (novel Starfire)
|Music by||Robert B. Sherman
Richard M. Sherman (songs)
Paul J. Smith
|Cinematography||William E. Snyder|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|April 5, 1962|
Moon Pilot is a 1962 American Technicolor science fiction satirical comedy film from Walt Disney Productions, released through Buena Vista Distribution, directed by James Neilson, and starring Tom Tryon, Edmund O'Brien, Dany Saval, and Tommy Kirk.
Astronaut Capt. Richmond Talbot inadvertently volunteers to make the first manned flight around the Moon. He is ordered to keep the upcoming flight a secret, even from his family. Due to the classified nature of the mission, he is placed under the watchful eye of several national security agencies.
Despite all of their precautions, Talbot is approached by Lyrae, a mysterious “foreign” girl who seems to know all about the astronaut's coming mission. She approaches Talbot to warn him about possible defects in his spacecraft. The various agencies assume she is a foreign spy.
Eventually, Lyrae reveals that she is a friendly alien from the planet Beta Lyrae. She wants to offer him a special formula that will safeguard his rocket fuel. Enchanted by the young woman, Talbot sneaks away from the FBI, NASA, and CIA agents who have been guarding him to spend more time with Lyrae. Eventually, after his rocket is launched, Talbot discovers that Lyrae has stowed away. The two sing a romantic song about her planet Beta Lyrae, while mission control is confused by their bizarre transmissions.
- Captain Richard Talbot : Tom Tryon
- Lyrae : Dany Saval
- Major General Vanneman : Brian Keith
- McClosky : Edmond O'Brien
- Walter Talbot : Tommy Kirk
Sally Field makes her film debut as one of the beatnik girls in the lineup. She is the one in the oversized sweater, dark hair, and glasses.
Disney vs the FBI
The Federal Bureau of Investigation protested to Walt Disney about their portrayal in the film. First, they objected to an FBI Agent guarding an astronaut, as that was not a Bureau function. Disney changed the character into a Federal Security Officer. Once the film was released, the FBI complained the federal agent was portrayed in "a most slapstick and uncomplimentary manner".
The screenplay took a satirical view of the United States government, with someone chiding a politician with "Didn't you read our 'Simple Science for Senators'"? The same character types Disney deified in their earlier Man in Space series were now gently made fun of in the film.
For his leading man, Disney chose Tom Tryon, who had been starring in Texas John Slaughter on television, but for the space female Disney chose Dany Saval, then touted as the "new Brigitte Bardot" for her American debut. He surrounded his two young stars with many experienced actors and a chimp for children. Disney's songwriters, the Sherman brothers, contributed several songs to the film with Saval recording The Seven Moons of Beta Lyrae, which was released on a record with Annette's The Crazy Place in Outer Space.
- "Moon Pilot". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
- p.35 Cohen, Karl F. Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America 2004 McFarland
- VIEW FROM A LOCAL VANTAGE POINT: On the Harvey, Disney Production Schedule -- Freedom Subject By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Mar 1961: X7.
- p.113 Telotte, J.P. The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology 2008 University of Illinois Press
- p.154 Brode, Douglas Multiculturism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment 2005 University of Texas Press
- Official website
- Moon Pilot at the Internet Movie Database
- Moon Pilot at AllMovie
- tcm http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article.jsp?cid=241246&mainArticleId=241098