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Friday, December 21, 2012

12 TO THE MOON (1960)

Dopey Kiddie Matinee space adventure about an international mission to claim the moon for all mankind is now available without a jokey comment track from the Mystery Science Theater guys. Feel free to make your wisecracks. Much more fun. Even on its own lowbrow/low-budget terms, it’s plenty awful, but even more weird. The moon turns out to be inhabited by aliens (unseen thanks to the minuscule budget) who grab a couple of over passionate scientists/astronauts to learn all about mankind & sex. They also get a pair of space cats to learn about . . . cats. Later, when the survivors on the spaceship head back to Earth, they find their home planet frozen. Time for a big sacrificial bombing run with an atomic weapon, piloted by the hot-headed Israeli and the guilt-ridden son of a Nazi scientist. By then, the film has more or less given up explaining these strange events. (Or why only the French character has his dialogue looped.) Fortunately, the moon-beings stay in touch via calligraphic writings, translated with ease by our female Japanese astronaut. (The only other thing she does is take a water-free shower.) Some of the ultra-low-grade effects are fun to watch, sort of like a backyard space epic made as a school project. And who’d want to miss man’s first words on the moon, ‘No air detected, no sound . . . soil seems to be pumice dust.’ Stirring stuff!  Don’t skip the trailer which promises One FREE Ticket to the Moon with every ticket bought to see 12 TO THE MOON! Wonder if anyone tried to redeem one in '69?

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY:The real mystery of the film is how the great cinematographer, and noir super star, John Alton got stuck on the project. He certainly brings an unexpected gloss to things, but sandwiched between ELMER GANTRY/’60 and an assist on THE BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ/’62, the assignment must have given him pause. Only sixty years old, this legend never shot another film.

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