Project Moonbase

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Project Moonbase
Project moonbase.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Talmadge
Produced byJack Seaman
Screenplay byRobert A. Heinlein
Jack Seaman
Story byRobert A. Heinlein
Jack Seaman
StarringRoss Ford
Donna Martell
Hayden Rorke
Larry Johns
Herb Jacobs
Barbara Morrison
Ernestine Barrier
Music byHerschel Burke Gilbert
CinematographyWilliam C. Thompson
Edited byRoland Gross
Galaxy Pictures Inc.
Distributed byLippert Pictures
Release date
  • September 4, 1953 (1953-09-04) (United States)
Running time
63 minutes
CountryUnited States

Project Moonbase (also known as Project Moon Base) is a 1953 black-and-white science fiction film directed by Richard Talmadge. The film is based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein, who shares screenwriting credit. Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured it as an episode in its first Comedy Channel season in January 1990 and it was also broadcast in a syndicated television episode of the Canned Film Festival in 1986.[1][2]

The film is unusual for its time in both attempting to portray space travel in a "realistic" manner, and for depicting a future in which women hold positions of authority and responsibility equal to men; in the film the President of the United States is a woman.[3]


Set in a future 1970, the United States is considering building bases on the Moon. Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell), Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford), and Doctor Wernher (Larry Johns) are sent to orbit the Moon to survey landing sites for future lunar missions. However, Dr. Wernher is an impostor whose mission is to destroy the US's Earth-orbiting space station, which he plans to do by colliding the rocket with the station on the way back from the Moon.

While on the way out, however, Wernher inadvertently gives his identity away. In the ensuing struggle for the control of the rocket, Col. Briteis has to make an emergency landing on the Moon. With them all marooned, Dr. Wernher redeems himself by helping establish communications with Earth, although an accident results in his untimely death. In response to the unexpected turn of events, the US authorities decide to make the immobilized spaceship the core of a new moon base. To avoid a scandal, their commander, General Greene (Hayden Rorke), cajoles Major Moore into proposing to Colonel Briteis (so as not to have an unmarried male and female astronaut alone in close quarters for weeks). Briteis accepts, but requests that Major Moore be promoted to Brigadier General after they are married so that he will outrank her. Compared to later science fiction movies and TV shows, where women are full-fledged professionals, this film portrays the main female protagonist, Col. Briteis, as a nice but incompetent female who is easily frightened and turns to Major Moore as soon as things become dangerous.


  • Donna Martell as Colonel Briteis
  • Hayden Rorke as Gen. 'Pappy' Greene
  • Ross Ford as Maj. Bill Moore
  • Larry Johns as Doctor Wernher
  • Herb Jacobs as Mr. Roundtree
  • Barbara Morrison as Polly Prattles
  • Ernestine Barrier as Madame President
  • James Craven as Commodore Carlson
  • John Hedloe as Adjutant
  • Peter Adams as Captain Carmody

Production and release[edit]

This movie and Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) were made using some of the same sets and costumes. The two films were then released within one day of each other.

The film was shot in 10 days.

Mystery Science Theater 3000[edit]

Project Moonbase was featured in episode #109 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 along with Chapters 7 and 8 of Radar Men from the Moon, a Commando Cody serial. The episode debuted January 6, 1990, on the Comedy Channel.[4] Kevin Murphy, who worked on the show and would become a cast member the next season, wrote, "The best thing I can say about it is that it was very very short," calling the movie "openly and condescendingly hostile toward women as a gender".[5]

As with most first season Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, the episode is not considered one of the series' better efforts; it did not make the Top 100 list of episodes as voted upon by MST3K Season 11 Kickstarter backers.[6], and writer Jim Vogel ranked the episode #164 (out of 191 total MST3K episodes). Vogel rated episode #109 the highest of the first-season episodes and says, "There’s some glimmers of later-season MST3k goodness in there ... Still, it’s nice to bid adieu to season 1 episodes on this list."[7]

The MST3K version of Project Moonbase was included as part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XX DVD collection, released by Shout! Factory in March 2011. The other episodes in the four-disc set include Master Ninja I (episode #320), Master Ninja II (episode #324), and The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (episode #505).[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Project Moon Base on IMDb
  2. ^ Margulies, Lee. Los Angeles Times, "Canned Film Festival on TV Worst of the Big Screen is on its Way", June 10, 1986. Last accessed: January 27, 2011.
  3. ^ Mansky, Jackie (25 July 2016). "The History of Women Presidents in Film". Smithsonian. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  4. ^ Episode guide: 109- Project Moon Base (with shorts: Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter 7: ‘Camouflaged Destruction’ and Chapter 8: ‘The Enemy Planet’). Satellite News. Retrieved on 2018-06-20.
  5. ^ Trace Beaulieu; et al. (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1st ed.). New York: Bantam Books. p. 13. ISBN 9780553377835.
  6. ^ Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000 Update #41. Kickstarter. Retrieved on 2017-11-18
  7. ^ Ranking Every MST3K Episode, From Worst to Best. Vorel, Jim. Paste Magazine. April 13, 2017. Retrieved on 2018-06-20
  8. ^ MST3K: Volume XX Shout! Factory. Retrieved on 2018-06-20.

External links[edit]

Mystery Science Theater 3000[edit]