Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Location: Prague, Bohemia
Member Since: Tue Apr 06, 2010
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In Reply To
Superman's Pal

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,393
Subj: Re: Sci-Fi Cinema #64 - Marooned (1969)
Posted: Fri Oct 01, 2021 at 07:46:38 pm EDT (Viewed 69 times)
Reply Subj: Sci-Fi Cinema #64 - Marooned (1969)
Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 at 01:53:48 am EDT (Viewed 108 times)

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Marooned (1969)

NASA launches Ironman One, a capsule with three astronauts intended to run a mission in space. But a malfunction means they lose control of the craft and now it's drifting in orbit, unable to steer.

On the ground, Charles Keith (Gregory Peck) is running mission control. With Peck in charge I expected an Atticus Finch style heroic speech about he's not going to lose any astronauts on his watch.  But instead he tells the team that it can't be done. The astronauts will run out of oxygen in 42 hours and it normally takes something like 20 days to get a new craft launched.

Ted Dougherty (David Janssen) disagrees, and argues that if they use an untested rocket with an untested shuttle and skip all safety checks they might be able to launch in the next 40 or so hours and reach the Ironman One just minutes before the astronauts expire.

In the capsule we meet astronauts played by Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman and James Franciscus. Hackman feels responsible for the failure and starts to come unglued. Crenna is the capsule commander and feels the weight of responsibility.  After a live TV feed is set up so they can talk their wives, maybe for the last time, they are asked to do something harder: sit back and wait. NASA orders them to take sleeping pills so they can conserve oxygen until the rescue ship arrives.

To make things worse, a hurricane is due to arrive right during the rescue ship's launch window. So the pressure is on from all angles: the President demands a public response to the crisis, the public is watching, and lives are hanging in the balance.  By the end, I was really starting to feel anxiety for the characters. Suffice to say not all goes according to plan and things get even hairier before the end.

This cast is pretty good. Peck I know from many films. Janssen I wasn't sure I knew but of course he was The Fugitive. Hackman gets a pretty good supporting role as a man slowly losing his cool. Franciscus I only know from Beneath the Planet of the Apes but I think he had more to do in this movie, and he's good. I've only seen Richard Crenna in the Rambo movies and he does a good job here.

This movie came out in December 1969, four months after the Apollo 11 mission. It captured a lot of attention but was apparently a box office flop. Of course it preceded the real-life malfunction that endangered the Apollo 13 mission.

This was the last picture of legendary director Frank Capra. He dropped out mid-production due to budget issues and was replaced by John Sturges who agreed to a smaller budget. Capra never directed another movie.

Marooned was based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Martin Caidin, who also wrote Cyborg, the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man.

This movie was apparently the inspiration for Peter Schilling's song "Major Tom (Coming Home)".

This movie was lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and was apparently the most expensive movie they ever reviewed. Their version (called "Space Travelers") can be watched on YouTube.

Nice review, sounds interesting. Thats a pretty impressive cast.

I'd always thought "Major Tom" was done as a response to David Bowie's Space Odessey"

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