Conquest of Space

Release Date: April 4, 1955
Starring Mickey Shaughnessy as Sgt. Mahoney
William Hopper as Dr. George Fenton
Ross Martin as Andre Feder
Walter Brouke as General Samuel T. Merritt
Director: Byron Haskin
Producer: George Pal
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Time: color: Technicolor, 1.85:1 (WS) 81 mins.

Purchase Conquest of Space (DVD) at the TCM store.

Interesting Tidbits

Conquest of Space is based on Willy Ley's 1949 book of the same name; the film incorporated Wernher von Braun's 1952 book The Mars Project. George Pal's goal for this film goal was technical accuracy.

When the movie was released, New York Times critics lauded the film's special effects.

"There is very little doubt who should receive a generous amount of credit and praise ... They are the special effects artists, John P. Fulton, Irmin Roberts, Paul Lerpae, Ivyle Burks, and Jan Domela ... They created top-flight effects such as 'the wheel', a self-contained station orbiting around earth, rocket flights in space and a horrendous near-collision with an asteroid. These facets of the Paramount production—and fortunately they are many and frequent—are much to marvel at."

The Plot

Sometime in the late 1950s, mankind has achieved the capability of manned space flight and built a space station in orbit around the Earth, headed by Captain Merritt, whose son is feeling a little homesick (he'd left Earth three months after just marrying). At the moment, the space station's personal have been at work constructing a giant spaceship to go to the moon, but on one occasion, a crew member becomes a victim of space fatigue after failing to connect a wire on time.

Later on, as Captain Merritt Sr has taken his men to the galley for dinner, the space station is lightly damaged by a meteor shower, but damages are soon repaired. After the incident, an inspector comes up from Earth and (after being questioned over the moonship's inclusion of wings) gives Captain Merritt fresh orders from the president: not only is Merritt being promoted to General, but the so called moonship is going to Mars instead. As General Merritt selects five men to go with him, his close friend is turned down for being three months young and Sgt Imoto expresses his view on the Martian mission, explaining how Japan, before World War Two, served as an example for a world becoming overpopulated and about to run out of valuable resources.
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