Begun as a project meant to
capitalize on the large budget, highly successful George Pal space film Destination Moon,
Rocketship X-M (short for "Rocketship Expedition Moon") was
actually released two months before the film it was supposed to follow.
Unlike its counterpart, the scientific knowledge in this film is drastically
flawed. These deviations make for a creative storyline that is enhanced by some
fine acting and outstanding photography. Despite its weak points, Rocketship XM
is undoubtedly one of the trendsetters that, along with Destination Moon, set
the stage for scores of movies that copied its style up to the release of
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The film tells the story of four astronauts (three men, one woman) led by
Colonel Graham (Lloyd Bridges) whose journey to the moon is interrupted when a
solar wind blows them off course. After surviving its brush with the obligatory
meteor shower, Rocketship X-M is forced to land on Mars. There, the crew
discovers a desolate landscape inhabited by primitive humans.
Through its discovery, the crew learns that the natives are descendants of a
great race destroyed by a nuclear war that occurred in ages past. Now, left with
only ruins, the savages attack the space travelers, forcing them to abandon Mars
before they can fully investigate the history of the sophisticate civilization
left on the Red Planet's desert surface. In this manner, we are warned of the
dangers posed by our own nuclear weapons.
As a political commentary,
Rocketship X-M is juvenile. As an adventure story, it is well worth watching.
When the movie was made, the Cold War was in its infancy, as was nuclear weapons
doctrine. In hindsight, this adds to the mystique. This film's barbaric Martians
kicked down the door for the more grim and sinister space monsters that
In 1978, producer Wade Williams
gained the rights to this film and added special effects footage to replace some
of the weaker shots in the film, including a wide use of V-2 stock footage.
Tom Sherman built a duplicate miniature replica of the original X-M model for
these new effects shots. This is the version on the current DVD release.
The original theater cut is not available to the home consumer.
Lloyd Bridges as Colonel Floyd
Osa Massen as Dr. Lisa Van Horn
John Emery as Dr. Carl Eckstrom
Noah Beery Jr. as Major William Corrigan
Also Known As:
Expedition Moon (1950)
None Came Back (1950) (USA: working title) Rocket to the Moon (1950) (USA:
working title) Rocketship Expedition Moon (1950) (USA: working title)
- written by the Two-Brained Cylon