Year: 1969

Production: Columbia

Director: John Sturges

Starring: Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, James Franciscus, David Janssen, Gene Hackman, Lee Grant, Nancy Kovack, Mariette Hartley

Screenwriter: Mayo Simon

Based on Marooned (1964) by Martin Caidin

134 minutes; Color

John Sturges is best known for Western (e.g. The Magnificent Seven [1960]), though he also directed the borderline sf film The Satan Bug (1965); outer space may be a less suitable setting for his work. The film is a quasi-documentary about the rescue, by a Soviet/US team, of three astronauts trapped in orbit around the Earth. Opinions are divided on whether the slowly built suspense is potent or monotonous; the dialog is even more banal than real NASA chat. The special effects are low-key and accurate, but not visually memorable; the most impressive sequence in the film is the one containing shots of a genuine Saturn rocket-launch. The film suffered through being released at much the same time as 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, the friendly treatment given to Russian cosmonauts in Marooned played a part in bringing about the Apollo-Soyuz space rendezvous of 1975.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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