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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, June 9, 2023

Flight to Mars (1951)

It has been a while since I’ve done some old school fifties sci-fi reviews, so it was about time that I returned to it. I had never seen Flight to Mars, which should be concerning since I’ve been watching this stuff for over forty years. Is this a hidden gem that escaped me or is there a reason that it never played on my local stations? Might as well jump in to find out.

The movie opens with some astronomers looking at Mars thru a telescope and talking about the mission that is just about to leave. Apparently it was kept a secret up until the last minute, even from Congress! Guess that is where the money from those five hundred dollar toilet seats went… Okay that was very much an eighties thing to say. If you don’t get it this was the joke about where all the money for various secret slush funds came from. Now back to our plot synopsis.

We finally meet the crew which includes some scientists. One of them is a lady scientist who is in love with the mission leader. Also along for the flight is a reporter by the name of Steve. He is played by the only real familiar face in the cast, Cameron Mitchell. They eventually take off, talk about space stuff that happened (rather than show us), dodge a meteor storm, and crash on Mars because the storm damaged their landing gear. Immediately after crash landing they meet the locals who welcome them with open arms. They help them repair the ship but have ulterior motives. Mars is dying and despite having technology far superior to Earth they never have managed to sort out the whole rocket ship thing. So they want to steal and copy the repaired ship so they can invade Earth. That always seems to happen in these flicks.

Martian space babe!
Some other stuff happens including a Mars space babe falling in love with the mission leader which causes the lady scientist to get mad. Though she eventually gets over it and falls for Steve, who has been hitting on her since the start. They make their escape with a couple of Martians who hope to negotiate a peace and save their people’s lives without starting a war. The end.

There are some things about Flight to Mars that I did like. The old school miniature work with the ship flying is fun. Not great mind you, but it has that fifties charm that I sometimes crave. We see it takeoff, dodge meteors, and crash land. It is clearly a model running along a string in a miniature landscape, but I dig that sort of thing. The sets for both the spaceship as well as the Martian city are also decent. Though the fact that they hop into what are clearly army cots for takeoff was sort of funny. Oh and when they arrive on the planet their spacesuits are nothing more than repurposed bomber jackets and masks from World War II. Don’t get me started on how the Martian space babes are dressed. But again, this sort of silly stuff is right up my alley and what I expect to see when watching a movie like Flight to Mars.

Not kidding about the jackets
You may be expecting a big but here and rightfully so. As much as I got a kick out of a lot of the movie it is also painfully slow. We get extended debates about the mission and whether it is worth the cost and effort, which is why it was kept secret. The characters are also introduced by Steve interviewing them, which is not only tedious, but we don’t anything that establishes the characters, so it is also quite pointless. While flying to Mars they spend time talking about what they saw, some romance drama between Steve and the lady scientist, arguments about it being a one way mission, and other exciting tidbits. After they land there is a bit of intrigue with the locals, but mostly in the fact that the Martian space babe falls in love with the mission leader.

You heard that right. No monsters, very little action, but lots of romance and talk about people’s place in the universe. That isn’t at all what I signed up for when I sat down to check this one out. If I want some romance with my sci-fi rocket ships, I’d much rather be watching It! Terror from Beyond Space or Forbidden Planet. At least those movies had monsters in them! Flight to Mars is just a boring old mess that feels much too long for it’s seventy two minute long runtime. Heck they don’t even resolve the main story line before rolling the credits. I can’t recommend this one at all.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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