Friday, August 31, 2018

First Men in the Moon

First Men in The Moon is kind of an underappreciated Ray Harryhausen film. While it most definitely has its fans, of which I am one, it is like the Three Worlds of Gulliver as being the least talked about of the films. Everyone talks about Jason or the Sinbad films. Even Clash of the Titans gets more love thanks to it not only being the last film but also because of the comparisons to the huge budgeted remakes.

I love the film and I think it’s one Harryhausen’s best films, probably second to Golden Voyage in my personal pantheon of Harryhausen wonders. It has cool monsters, great characters and a super script. Where many of the other films fudge bits of plot First Men plays it straight and as such is very satisfying.

Nominally based upon the HG Wells novel the film begins with man’s first trip to the moon…or so everyone thought. The reality is that thanks to the finding of a small British flag the astronauts realize some one was there before. Officials scramble to discover what happen and they interview Arnold Bedford who is living in a nursing home who claims to once upon a time traveled to the moon with Professor Caver and Kate Callender. Once there the trio found that the moon was not the dead world we thought but one buzzing with life.

One of the numerous Victorian/ Edwardian themed films that popped up in the 1960’s this was one of the best. Driven by a killer script which holds our attention from first frame to the last the film is a rip roaring adventure. It’s less science fiction than pure fantasy this is a film you climb aboard and travel to another time and other places. It’s a blast and then some.

The cast is perfect. I can’t say enough about Edward Judd, Lionel Jeffries and Martha Hyer other than they are all wonderful. Not just wonderful but note perfect. This is the film that I instantly think of when I see their names.

And of course there are the creatures. Ray Harryhausen is at the top of game with all the little beasties. His work makes the various real. We genuinely feel menaced by the moon men- and more importantly we kind of feel a twinge of sadness when their fate is revealed. It’s easy to feel fear with monsters but to get us to have our hearts break is something special and requires the work of a master.

As I said above I love this film a great deal. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting a grand adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I whole heartedly agree. This is the first Charles H. Schneer/Ray Harryhausen film that I ever saw when it first hit UHF broadcast television in 1968. You don't get bowled over like one does with Sindbad's Cyclops and Dragon or Jason's Hydra and Skeletons, but this film had a big impact on me the way really great Science Fiction films do. Movies like THE TIME MACHINE or THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. FIRST MEN has a wonderful, created for the film wrap-around story that expertly sets the scene to take us back to the Victorian Era and a well driven plot line that takes us to the unknown depth of the moon and back. Mr. Harryhausen's creatures are great and serve the story, rather than the other way around, as in other SF and Creature Features. Thanks for this thought filled and excellent review. Two thumbs up and 6 out of 5 stars!