Friday, January 17, 2014

Riders to the Stars (1954)

Ivan Tors made a series of fantastical science fiction films in the 1950's all of which were rooted in the science of the times. He had mad MAGNETIC MONSTER in 1953 about a strange element that threatened to destroy the world in the hopes of creating a series of science based detective films but it went no where. He also made GOG which was a 3D thriller about robots in a secret base going amuck when taken over by enemy agents. In between the two he made RIDER TO THE STARS about sending men into space in order to capture meteors to be used for shielding in rocket ships.

I'm not going to lie to you,I found this film a snooze fest.  It's not bad as such but so dry and lacking in real motion that I'm wondering if the film wouldn't have been better cut down to an hour (or half hour) and released as a B film. I know you're wondering if I'm that down on the film why I'm including it and it's simply that until recently I somehow never ran across it. As some one who love 50's  science fiction films its odd that I never noticed the film before, but having seen the film I understand why no one ever seemed to run the film. (I'm also using it to bridge our typical good films into next weeks annual round up of film turkeys)

To be honest the film is pretty good to start. It has a great cast of B film stalwarts Richard Carlson (who directed), Herbert Marshall. William Lundigan, James Best and many others.the set up of a rocket crashing to earth and the men and women behind it trying to deduce who to keep them save is good. Also good is the way the men are recruited. Of course it's silly but at the same time it adds an aire of cloak and dagger. The final rocket flight is also exciting.

The trouble is the middle section once the men get to the base and begin training. Its a bit loopy (at one point a shrink sits in with the men who are left in a room to try and work out who is suitable) and a bit by rote (the centrifuge sequence).  While I freely admit that time has moved past this film, I still would rather see something like the kind of similar DESTINATION MOON  simply because the drama isn't dull.

Worth a look for science fiction completeist, others may want to stay away.

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