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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film - well worth buying
Marvellous to see this classic 60s film in DVD quality. Only Lionel Jeffries could have portrayed H. G. Wells' excitable, eccentric Professor Cavor with such gusto; Edward Judd and Martha Hyer provide fulsome support as his fellow-travellers - and Ray Harryhausen's special effects, though perhaps considered rather prosaic by today's high-tech standards, easily stand the...
Published on 11 Mar 2003 by Bob Kingsley

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could you believe, they put a man on the Moon, that early!?
Directed by Nathan Juran, First Men In The Moon is an adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel The First Men in the Moon. Nigel Kneale (creator of Quatermass) and Jan Read write the screenplay, Ray Harryhausen provides the stop-motion effects, and the cast is made up of Lionel Jeffries, Edward Judd & Martha Hyer. The story sees a UN rocket flight to the Moon land in 1964...
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by Spike Owen


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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film - well worth buying, 11 Mar 2003
By 
Bob Kingsley (Weston-super-Mare, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
Marvellous to see this classic 60s film in DVD quality. Only Lionel Jeffries could have portrayed H. G. Wells' excitable, eccentric Professor Cavor with such gusto; Edward Judd and Martha Hyer provide fulsome support as his fellow-travellers - and Ray Harryhausen's special effects, though perhaps considered rather prosaic by today's high-tech standards, easily stand the test of time.
As a nine-year-old when the film first came out, I found it inspirational: convinced there really must be such a material as Cavorite, the gravity-defying substance that provided the means of propelling the Sphere all the way to the moon, I spent hours reading chemistry and science books looking for clues as to how it might be created; and the idea of using a metal ball covered in old railway buffers to effect a soft, bouncing lunar landing seemed entirely logical at the time. (Interesting that decades later, a similar principle, but using large balloons instead of buffers, was used to deliver the Rover Sojourner safely onto the Martian surface.)
Our heroes find that the moon is inhabited by Selenites that live under the surface. While Cavor is fascinated by these child-sized, bug-like sentient creatures and wants nothing more than to communicate meaningfully with them, Arnold Bedford and his fiancée Kate provide the obligatory juxtapositions - Kate's terrified and repulsed by them, while Bedford thinks nothing of killing them whenever they get in his way.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about the Selenites' own underlying fears - is an invasion of their secret world underway? What should they do about these strange interlopers? The denoument of the story provides a twist that, while perhaps a little obvious these days, was new and eye-opening back then.

The DVD includes "This is Dynamation" - a featurette of interest more for its curiosity value than for what it actually tells you about the Dynamation process - and, much more absorbing, "The Harryhausen Chronicles" which gives ample background about the life of one of the movie world's greatest special effects innovators. It details the stop-motion techniques he devised as a youngster and how he perfected the painstaking process of bringing his exotic and fantastical creatures to life on the big screen in the Sinbad films, Jason And The Argonauts, One Million Years B.C. and many other classics. Decades later his lifelong friend, author Ray Bradbury, was proud to present him with the Golden Sawyer Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1992 for his contribution to the world of cinema.
The cover notes on the DVD packaging appear confusing. It states: "The film begins with a team of United Nations astronauts planning an upcoming moon mission," whereas the film actually opens with the astronauts touching down on the lunar surface and making a discovery that indicates someone's been there before them. The notes continue: "The astronauts are both confused and intrigued by a man (Edward Judd) who claims he, his fiancée and a scientist journeyed to the moon 65 years ago ... Now it's up to the U.N. team to attempt a lunar landing ..." But it's only after the amazing discovery on the lunar surface that attempts are made back on Earth to locate the man at the centre of the mystery. I guess that for reasons of limited space the notes had to be somewhat truncated, but still, it smacks of a certain laziness on the part of Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment that they couldn't set the scene more accurately.
This little niggle aside, First Men In The Moon provides 99 minutes of excellent movie entertainment, and "The Harryhausen Chronicles" completes a great evening's viewing.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine slice of Movie Entertainment, 15 Oct 2002
By 
This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
I have been waiting for this movie to become available on DVD and in glorious widescreen.
For me, Lionel Jeffries is the archetypal self-obsessed victorian scientist - intelligently played with greater subtlty than at first obvious (the 'such a terrible cold' is almost too subtle), terrifically humouros, and a great comic characterisation. Edward Judd plays an excellent victorian leading man (pity he was so hard to get on with in real life that he didn't make many films), and Martha Hyer an acceptable (if underdeveloped) leading lady - her wail of 'Arnold' will always make me grin. Laurie Johnson's two-part score (he scored the first part of the movie in a different style to the second... and rightly so) is wonderful and Harryhausen's masterful special effects, though not so obvious as in others of his movies are used to better effect in this movie. All his styles from 'Earth vs the Flying Saucers' to the various Sinbad movies in one movie and with greater subtlty. As for HG Wells, this film is as true to the novel as Pal's 'The Time Machine' and much truer than the movie of 'War of the Worlds' - it is my favourite treatment of Wells in the movies.
HG Wells', Lionel Jeffries', Edward Judd's and Ray Harryhausen's finest cinematic outing - and a heck of an entertaining movie to boot - so long as you're not turned-off by an innocent adventure, that is - and I hope you'll enjoy this one as I do.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great but why censored, 30 April 2008
By 
Michael Clayden (Oxfordshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
A classic sci fi film and a firm favourite of mine. the DVD looks great in Widescreen but beware the R2 version has been cut.The scene of the selenites stripping the moon calf( a giant caterpillar) of flesh has been completely removed! Dont understand this as whenever " first men in the moon" is shown on the telly its left in.I complained to columbia tristar but they never replied. Guess they are probably running round looking for the missing scene..one hopes.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As entertaining now as when I first watched it back in 1964, 6 Sep 2009
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
When 'First Men in the Moon' was first released in 1964 it completely blew me away. I was 15 at the time. Not even Kubrik's '2001: a Space Odyssey' (released four years later) caught my imagination quite as much as this did.

The plot of 'First Men' is taken from H G Wells's story of the same name. The film keeps the late Victorian setting but frames it with a story about a modern moon landing. (The Apollo 11 moon landing took place just five years after the film was released.) In this conception, the Wells story becomes an extended flashback. It is a wholly satisfying adaptation for the screen, with plenty of pace, and some great visual touches. Cavor's Victorian space ship with its old railway buffers for landing gear has always struck me as one of the great design inspirations of retro sci-fi.

A lot of the film's charm comes from its strong comic elements which sometimes border on slapstick. The comedy is carried principally by Lionel Jefferies who gives a truly marvellous performance as the eccentric and manically bumbling scientist, Cavor. (Jefferies was a ridiculously talented actor.) It is sustained by brief appearances from British comedy stalwarts such as Gladys Henson (as the matron of the nursing home) and Miles Mallison (as the dotty registrar). Edward Judd makes a fine lovable rogue and Martha Hyer brings energy to her role as his fiance. She appears at first as a late Victorian 'new woman', driving a motor car and speaking her mind to members of the male sex. Ultimately, though, her charater reverts to the more typically dependent female stereotype of the period. The comedy is fast paced and neatly integrated into the plot so that it doesn't detract from the dramatic action but helps to carry it forward. It is marvellously well-judged.

Ray Harryhausen's Selenites are surprisingly restrained (their creator was usually up for a good screen fight) but they do what is required of them, and create a creepy sense of collective, insect-like menace. Both they and the giant caterpillars work very well for their time. A number of the other set piece special effects are memorable. What I particularly like about 'First Men', though, is that although the special effects and futuristic sets provide a strong focal point of interest they don't overwhelm the plot.

Finally, there is an excellent score which points the comedy and supports the drama.

If you like 1960s retro Sci-Fi, 'First Men' is a real treat!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic for all the family, 23 Sep 2008
By 
Mr. Jonathon T. Beckett "vampire lover" (Dracula's Crypt) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
This is a film I loved watching as a child, and at 37 years old, I love it just as much now.
Based on the fabulous novel by H.G Wells, it concerns the first trip to the moon taken by two Victorian gentlemen, one an eccentric scientist Professor Cavor, the other Bedford, a rougish benefactor of the scientist. Bedford's fiancee also comes along rather unwillingly for the ride. When they arrive on the Moon they discover a well ordered insectivore society, intelligent and inquisitive. Lionel Jefferies steals every scene he is in as the frankly totally bonkers Cavor, running around like an excited child with ideas shooting from his mouth, whilst Edward Judd is also excellent, as Bedford, a quite unlikeable character in the film, selfish and also instantly hostile towards the Selenites.
The special effects are also excellent, Harryhausen providing the excellent Moon Cow, a giant caterpillar with razor sharp teeth, and also some of the higher Selenites. Probably because of budgetary limitations the majority of the moon men are men in suits. Also impressive is the sight of Cavor's spaceship travelling from Earth to the Moon.
Anyway, its the kind of film to make me at least pine for the days when these wonderful films would be shown regularily on television, Sinbad and his many voyages, Jason and his Argonauts and all those wonderful fantasy films that fuelled my imagination as a child.
Theres also an excellent documentary 'The Harryhausen Chronicles' provided as an extra, showing the painstaking efforts that the wizard model maker made to bring his wonderful creations to the screen.
All in all, an excellent DVD, at a great price. Buy it now
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous 60s adventure trip to the Moon!, 27 Oct 2009
By 
FAMOUS NAME (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
I love this movie!

Firstly; I love most things to do with the Moon, but SF movies of the 50s and 60s are particularly good in my opinion, since there'd been no real space travel and so loads of thoughts, ideas and imagination were being thrown about all over the place. I also prefer the 'Special Effects' associated with most of these kind of Pictures during that time. (original Star Trek etc.) As the wonderful Creator of the super 'Dynamation' Ray Harryhausen says in the mini-doc. which is included here as a 'Special Feature'; this leaves 'something' to the imagination, whereas in such modern movies, all is 'too' real, and so there's no scope left at all...

This movie is based on the novel by the wonderful author of SF: 'H. G. Wells'. It's the story of two men (rather eccentric) and quite a level-headed young woman (well at least to begin with!) who plan a mission to the Moon. When they get there, it is not the desolate place it was found to be in reality in 1969!

This movie is full of humour, adventure and pure innocence. Includes clever SF magic created by the super 'Dynamation' that was at its peak during the 60s.

This has been re-mastered to a very high quality, and no fan of the Moon or Space Adventures should be without this - particularly those who revel in the Space ideas of this wonderful period in SF movie-making history!

Simply Magic!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crinolines in Spaaaaace, 28 May 2008
By 
David Longhorn "Pilot of the Past" (Tyneside, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
Nigel Kneale scripted this clever adaptation of Wells' classic. In doing so he kept in much of the fun stuff. Scientist invents anti-gravity material and builds space ship. Neighbour learns of experiments and comes along for the ride. Explorers encounter strange alien beings, and get into trouble. Will they escape? Well, sort of.
Harryhausen's effects are pretty good. Yes, stop-motion had dated, but there's still something enjoyable about proper monsters. The giant Mooncalves aren't that terrifying but they provide some innocent amusement. Likewise the scenes with the Cavorite sphare flying through space. Not brilliant by modern standards, but well done and visually appealing.
Maybe there is a bit too much comedy in the first half hour or so, as Lionel Jeffreys piles on the wacky inventor. Also, a not-very-necessary romantic sub-plot is added, presumably because producers thought audiences like that sort of thing.
These faults are balanced by a clever framing narrative concerning the first moon landing - still the stuff of science fiction when this film was made. Kneale rather cheekily provides a denouement based on another Wells book. All in all, this is solid bit of sci-fi film making and well worth a watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great science-fiction fun, 15 Oct 2008
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www.DavidLRattigan.com (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
I have been watching this movie since I was a kid and it's never lost its appeal. Granted, some will find the first half a bit slow at times, but the light comedy is still fun. Once our two heroes get on the Moon, it's all giant monsters and aliens from the brilliant Ray Harryhausen, along with assorted enjoyable escapades. Highlights are Lionel Jeffries's performance as the eccentric Professor Cavor and Laurie Johnson's stirring musical score.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Classic, 5 Nov 2010
By 
Dr. Mark P. Toner "Ayesongs" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
I call this a classic classic. The original H G Wells story is a true classic, pinning the real driving forces behind space exploration half a century before the space age actually began. Cavor representing the naive enquiry of science and Bedford commercial and political self-interest. The tension between these characters produces the drive to go to the moon.

This is the 1960s movie version with the wonderful Lionel Jeffries bringing Cavor to life and, of course, the master, himself, Ray Harryhausen behind the special effects and the ant-like selentites. The addition of the 60s moon-landing as a bookmarking device around the original story is a nice touch which made this especially relevent at the time. It's interesting that the film-makers chose to have a United Nations landing as, at the time of making, no-one knew if the Americans or the Russians would get there first. So bets were hedged.

The new BBC version, by Mark Gatiss obviously owes a debt here, since they borrowed the 60s moon-landing device, updating it with some real Apollo 11 footage. It's nice to watch this wonderful old movie and compare it with the new version. All the original themes are their in both, although the BBC version is perhaps more Wellsian in its darkness than this family adventure film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous 60s adventure trip to the Moon!, 27 Oct 2009
By 
FAMOUS NAME (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I love this movie!

Firstly; I love most things to do with the Moon, but SF movies of the 50s and 60s are particularly good in my opinion, since there'd been no real space travel and so loads of thoughts, ideas and imagination were being thrown about all over the place. I also prefer the 'Special Effects' associated with most of these kind of Pictures during that time. (original Star Trek etc.) As the wonderful Creator of the super 'Dynamation' Ray Harryhausen says in the mini-doc. which is included here as a 'Special Feature'; this leaves 'something' to the imagination, whereas in such modern movies, all is 'too' real, and so there's no scope left at all...

This movie is based on the novel by the wonderful author of SF: 'H. G. Wells'. It's the story of two men (rather eccentric) and quite a level-headed young woman (well at least to begin with!) who plan a mission to the Moon. When they get there, it is not the desolate place it was found to be in reality in 1969!

This movie is full of humour, adventure and pure innocence. Includes clever SF magic created by the super 'Dynamation' that was at its peak during the 60s.

This has been re-mastered to a very high quality, and no fan of the Moon or Space Adventures should be without this - particularly those who revel in the Space ideas of this wonderful period in SF movie-making history!

Simply Magic!
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First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964]
First Men in the Moon [DVD] [1964] by Nathan Juran (DVD - 2002)
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