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The movie was made in a time when everyone was into the red scare. A nuclear family has the means and knowledge to build a device (from public domain information) to transmit to a 1952 version of Mars.

Using a new hydrogen technology Chris Cronyn (Peter Graves) sends a message to Mars. A message appears to return. The content disrupts economics and supports the concept of theocracies over democracies (Iran is a theocracy). However it is not so much the messages that catch your eye, as the 1950's stereotypes. The nuclear family is just missing the family dog. The wife (Andrea King) even thought standing beside her husband is more behind him and is scared of her own shadow. The commies are ruthless and dumb. The president (this is before we started to degrade presidents) is fair and benign. I can go on but you get the idea. Now it is amusing to watch in retrospect. But if any of these people existed today it would be scary.

Peter Graves gets to play the good guy "look to the future" father.

Marvin Miller (Arjenian) the confused bad guy (typical 50's commie) can be seen again as Michael Anthony in the 1955 TV series
"Millionaire, The"
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Now here's a film that would never be made nowadays, with its remarkable confluence of science fiction and religion and an ending that is literally "The Beginning." You won't see any Martians here, nor any rockets, spaceships, or other images you probably associate with science fiction. Red Planet Mars is all about "the message," one that modern audiences will likely resist much more strongly than the original 1952 American audience. The film's somewhat open-ended conclusion allows for rejection as well as acceptance - another strong point in the movie's favor -and one person's outright dismissal will be another's inspiration. Red Planet Mars is very much a thinking man's movie from the Golden Age of science fiction.

A young Peter Graves plays scientist Chris Cronyn, who has spent years working alongside his wife Linda (Andrea King) constructing a communication device powerful enough to reach Mars. As astronomical observations begin to reveal highly provocative changes on the Martian surface, Cronyn finally gets a response to the signals he has been sending toward the Red Planet. They're just the same signals being sent back his way, but he eventually figures out how to communicate with the aliens, making him an instant celebrity. Unbeknownst to him or the now heavily involved American government, the man who first came up with the technology, German war criminal Franz Calder (Herbert Berghof) is listening to all of Cronyn's messages with his own transceiver, developed with the help of the Soviets who got him out of jail. For the Soviets, hearing all of Cronyn's questions and the replies he receives is just as good as communicating with the Martians themselves.

This contact with Mars quickly results in sweeping, fairly ridiculous changes. Learning that the Martians need no fossil fuels to produce more energy than they know what to do with and can feed a thousand people for a year off of one acre of farmland, the whole American economy all but collapses overnight, American generals contemplate a nuclear first-strike attack on the Soviet Union, while the Soviets themselves sit back and happily watch Western society crumble. Then, the messages from Mars suddenly take on an overtly religious theme, leading to even more sweeping changes across the entire globe.

But are these messages truly coming from Mars? And if they aren't, do you dare let the truth get out after all of the transformative changes that have just taken place? Some viewers, especially liberals and those of the anti-Christian persuasion, will dismiss this film as a product of crazy right-wingers and Cold War paranoia, but those who choose to take the film at face value can't help but appreciate the very big questions it asks - in terms of both personal responsibility and the agents of social change. Many will also find it very inspirational in not only a spiritual but an honest-to-God, unabashed Christian sense. Red Planet Mars is truly a unique science fiction film that deserves more notice than it has received over the years.
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on 2 January 2015
It is I'm afraid very dated. It appears more philosophical than scientific. I may watch it again but would have to be pretty bored to do so. Might appeal to lovers of action free movies.
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The movie was made in a time when everyone was into the red scare. A common urban family has the means and knowledge to build a device (from public domain information before the internet) to transmit to a 1952 version of Mars.

Using a new hydrogen technology transmitter Chris Cronyn (Peter Graves) sends a message to Mars; a message appears to return. The content disrupts economics and supports the concept of theocracies over democracies (Iran is an example of a theocracy).

However it is not so much the messages that catch your eye, as the 1950's stereotypes. The nuclear family is just missing the family dog. The wife (Andrea King) even thought standing beside her husband or more behind him and is scared of her own shadow. The commies are ruthless and dumb. The president (this is before we started to degrade presidents) is fair and benign. I can go on but you get the idea. Now it is amusing to watch in retrospect. But if any of these people existed today it would be scary.

Peter Graves gets to play the good guy "look to the future" father.

Marvin Miller (Arjenian) the confused bad guy (typical 50's commie) can bee seen again as Michael Anthony in the 1955 TV series "The Millionaire"
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on 1 September 2010
I saw this film during the single week that it remained on the bill of one of the theaters in my old neighborhood, the old Victoria. It was on the bottom half of a double bill with some western or Joan Crawford tearjerker that my parents wanted to see. I was nine years old.

In my immature judgement, it seemed to me to be the most blatant piece of pietistic claptrap and balderdash I had ever seen on any screen--and that was after being exposed to the Cold War duck-and-cover extravaganzas regularly screened at Marshall School, my elementary school that sat just one block beyond the old Victoria.*

The film has turned up at odd hours of the night and early morning on local television stations, seemingly about once a decade since that time.

I stumbled across this DVD on the shelves of a local video rental shop. I gave it a try, just to compare my current critical stance with that of my younger self. With a few more years of life experience behind me and five or more viewings scattered across half a century, I can now say that "The Red Planet Mars" is the most blatant piece of low budget, lowbrow, low aiming, pietistic claptrap and balderdash I have ever seen on any screen.

The classics remain ever true to themselves.

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*In comments attached to the Amazon US version of this review, one correspondent admonished me to "Give it a look again in a few years. It is really very rare for evaluative development to become atrophied at the age of nine."

My reply was, "No, not atrophied, merely prescient and precocious."
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