The Spacesuit Film

A History, 1918–1969

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About the Book

Filmmakers employ various images to suggest the strangeness of outer space, but protective spacesuits most powerfully communicate its dangers and the frailty of humans beyond the cradle of Earth. (Many films set in space, however, forgo spacesuits altogether, reluctant to hide famous faces behind bulky helmets and ill-fitting jumpsuits.)
This critical history comprehensively examines science fiction films that portray space travel realistically (and sometimes not quite so) by having characters wear spacesuits. Beginning [A] with the pioneering Himmelskibet (1918) and Woman on the Moon (1929), it discusses [B] other classics in this tradition, including Destination Moon (1950), Riders to the Stars (1954), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); [C] films that gesture toward realism but betray that goal with melodramatic villains, low comedy, or improbable monsters; [D] the distinctive spacesuit films of Western Europe, Russia and Japan; and [E] America’s spectacular real-life spacesuit film, the televised Apollo 11 moon landing (1969).

About the Author(s)

Gary Westfahl, a professor emeritus at the University of La Verne, California, has authored, edited, or co-edited 27 books about science fiction and fantasy, and hundreds of articles and reviews. In 2003, he received the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award for his lifetime contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship.

Bibliographic Details

Gary Westfahl
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 371
Bibliographic Info: 40 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4267-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8999-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword: Don’t Leave Earth Without It (by Michael Cassutt)      1
Introduction: Pre-Flight Briefing      3

1. FIRST FLIGHTS: THE EARLY FILMS      9
Himmelskibet (A Trip to Mars) (1918)      12
Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) (1929)      14
Kosmicheskiy Reys (The Space Voyage) (1935)      17

2. THE TRUE FRONTIER: THE CLASSIC FILMS      20
Destination Moon (1950)      20
Spaceways (1953)      27
Project Moon Base (1953)      32
Riders to the Stars (1954)      35
Gog (1954)      39
Conquest of Space (1955)      41
Disneyland: “Man and the Moon” (1955)      45
Satellite in the Sky (1956)      47
Destination Space (1959)      51
Men into Space (1959–1960)      54

3. WILD ADVENTURES: THE MELODRAMATIC FILMS      74
Television Programs of the Early 1950s.      75
Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere (1951) and Radar Men from the Moon (1952)      81
Rocketship X-M (1950)      85
Flight to Mars (1951)      88
Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)      92
Forbidden Planet (1956)      94
World Without End (1956)      95
Missile to the Moon (1958), Queen of Outer Space (1958), and Nude on the Moon (1961)      96
From the Earth to the Moon (1958) and First Men in the Moon (1964)      102
The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)      108
12 to the Moon (1960)      109
The Phantom Planet (1961)      113
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)      115
Lost in Space (1965–1968)      117
The Time Tunnel: “One Way to the Moon” (1966)      121
In Like Flint (1967) and You Only Live Twice (1967)      123
The Terrornauts (1967)      126
Star Trek: “The Tholian Web” (1968)      127
Barbarella (1968)      131
Moon Zero Two (1969)      132
Döppelganger (Journey to the Far Side of the Sun) (1969)      134

4. SHIPS OF FOOLS: THE HUMOROUS FILMS      140
Situation Comedies of the 1950s      141
Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953)      144
Space Ship Sappy (1957), Outer Space Jitters (1957), and Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959)      147
Man in the Moon (1960)      149
Moon Pilot (1962)      151
The Road to Hong Kong (1962)      153
The Mouse on the Moon (1963)      155
Situation Comedies of the 1960s      158
Sergeant Dead Head (1965)      162
Way …Way Out (1966)      164
Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon (Those Fantastic Flying Fools) (1967)      167
The Reluctant Astronaut (1967)      169

5. SPACE FRIGHTS: THE HORRIFIC FILMS      175
The Quatermass Experiment (1953) and The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)      179
Quatermass II (1955)      183
King Dinosaur (1955)      185
20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)      186
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)      187
First Man into Space (1959)      189
The Angry Red Planet (1959)      193
Journey to the Seventh Planet (1961)      195
The Crawling Hand (1963)      197
The Outer Limits (1963–1965)      198
The Wizard of Mars (1965)      205
Mutiny in Outer Space (1965)      207
Space Monster (1965)      209
Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965)      211
Mission Mars (1968)      214
The Green Slime (1968)      216

6. PARALLEL FLIGHT PATHS: THE FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILMS      220
The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe      221
Doroga k Zvezdam (Road to the Stars) (1957) and Luna (The Moon) (1965)      221
Nebo Zovyot (The Sky Calls) (1959) and Battle Beyond the Sun (1962)      224
Die Schweigende Stern (First Spaceship on Venus) (1960)      230
Baron Prá§il (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen) (1961) and Automat na Prání (The Wishing Machine) (1967)      232
Planeta Bur (Planet of Storms) (1962), Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1967)      236
Ikarie XB-1 (1963) and Voyage to the End of the Universe (1964)      240
Mechte Navstrechu (A Dream Come True) (1963) and Queen of Blood (1966)      243
Tumannost Andromedy (The Andromeda Nebula) (1967)      245
Italy and Western Europe      246
Totò nella Luna (Totò in the Moon) (1957)      246
La Morte Viene dallo Spazio (The Day the Sky Exploded) (1958)      249
Space Men (1960)      251
Il Pianeta degli Uomini Spenti (Battle of the Worlds) (1961)      254
Terrore nello Spazio (Planet of the Vampires) (1965)      255
Dos Cosmonautas a la Fuerza (002 Operazione Luna) (1965)      257
I Criminali della Galassia (The Wild, Wild Planet) (1965) and I Diafanoidi Portano la Morte (War of the Planets) (1966)      258
Il Pianeta Errante (War Between the Planets) (1966) and La Morte Viene dal Pianeta Aytin (The Snow Devils) (1967)      262
Raumpatrouille: Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (Space Patrol ) (1966)      265
2 + 5: Missione Hydra (Star Pilot) (1966)      266
…4…3…2…1…Morte (Mission Stardust) (1967)      268
Egypt and Mexico      270
Rehla ilal Kamar (Journey to the Moon) (1959)      270
Conquistador de la Luna (The Astronauts) (1960)      272
Gigantes Planetarios (Planetary Giants) (1965) and El Planeta de las
Mujeres Invasoras (Planet of the Female Invaders) (1966)      274
Japan and Western Asia      277
Chikyu Boeigun (The Mysterians) (1957) and Uchû Daisensô (Battle in Outer Space) (1959)      278
Kyojin to Gangu (Giants and Toys) (1958)      281
Yosei Gorasu (Gorath) (1962)      282
Kaijû Daisensô (Godzilla vs. Monster Zero) (1965) and Kaijû Sôshingeki (Destroy All Monsters) (1968)      284
Taekoesu Yonggary (Yongary, Monster from the Deep) (1967)      286
Uchû Daikaijû Girara (The X from Outer Space) (1967)      287

7. FROM REEL TO REAL: THE REBIRTH AND DEATH OF THE FILMS      290
Countdown (1968)      291
Marooned (1969)      294
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)      299
Television Coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing (1969)      307

8. RETURN TO EARTH: FILMS AFTER 1969      313
A Filmography of Spacesuit Films      323
Chapter Notes      341
Bibliography      345
Index      351

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Illuminating and entertaining”—Locus
  • “A breath of fresh air…recommend…an amazing accomplishment and a definitive read”—Filmfax
  • “Westfahl should be commended for opening this path and others to exploration”—SFRA Review
  • “Westfahl provides a detailed study of this particular film genre, summarizing movies both famous and obscure”—The Space Review
  • “A critical history of the appearance of spacesuits in film”—Reference & Research Book News
  • “A must. A great research book”—SF Crowsnest
  • “Valuable…of great interest…informative”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
  • “Both sf and media scholars have benefited much over the years from the work of Gary Westfahl and the publishing strategy of McFarland. Westfahl is a prolific and influential scholar who has authored a number of important historical studies of sf literature”—Science Fiction Studies.