The Conquest of Space

Year: 1955

Production: Paramount

Director: Byron Haskin

Starring: Walter Brooke, Eric Fleming, Ross Martin, Mickey Shaughnessy

Screenwriter: James O'Hanlon

Based remotely on Weltraumfahrt (The Mars Project) by Wernher von Braun

80 minutes; Color


The title of this film is taken from the popular science book The Conquest of Space (1949) by Chesley Bonestell and Willy Ley. Though supposedly based on a work of science fact by von Braun, the story, set in the 1980s, of a military research expedition to Mars and back is riddled with implausibilities, both scientific (an asteroid burning in the vacuum of space) and human (the commander, regarded as the only person capale of sustaining the mission, becomes a twitching religious fanatic - at one point uttering the celebrated line: "There are some things that Man is not meant to do"). There is a strange but irrelevant Oedipal conflict, ending with the son killing his father, the commander, when the latter tries to sabotage the ship. The special effects are quite ambitious but clumsily executed, in particular the matte work. A truly awful film, The Conquest of Space is probably George Pal's worst production; it was his last for Paramount.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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