22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Did much to inspire the space movie craze of the 1950s,
This review is from: Rocketship X-M [DVD]  (DVD)
Rocketship X-M was really one of the first good science fiction films of the 1950s, and its influence can be seen in the slew of space movies released throughout that decade. In some ways, it is the quintessential science fiction film of the era; it sends a crew of four men and one woman into space for the first time, and these characters actually get a chance to express their own personalities during the journey. While the science of the film misses the mark in a number of ways, the filmmakers did not rely on alien "monsters" to help the story along. The movie has a message, and its plausibility and rather unhappy conclusion bring that message home to viewers. The film also reflects to some degree the culture of the time in terms of gender, sporting a number of chauvinistic lines sure to rankle many modern viewers.
Our intrepid crew for this secret first manned spaceship launch consists of ship designer Dr. Exum (John Emery), navigator Floyd Graham (Lloyd Bridges), engineer Major William Corrigan (Noah "Rockford's Dad" Beery, Jr.), some less important guy played by Hugh O'Brian, and brilliant female chemist Dr. Lisa Van Horn (Osa Massen). When Floyd isn't navigating, he's putting the moves on the cold and aloof Lisa. Things go swimmingly at first (with the ship, not with Lloyd's advances), but then a problem with the fuel mixture (sure – blame the woman) causes the engines to die. When Dr. Van Horn defends her computations, she is treated to a few chauvinistic remarks about acting like a woman; the great and mighty men figure things out on their own, and before you know it everyone is knocked unconscious and the Rocketship X-M (which was supposed to land on the moon) finds itself flung out into deep space. As luck would have it, though, they wake up to find themselves within reach of Mars and take advantage of the opportunity to land there. This is a Lippert film, so you knew there would have to be many scenes of people climbing hills and mountains somewhere in it. Well, the crew members make a few discoveries about the state of past and current life on the red planet and try to make it back home to spread the word to the people of earth – it's your basic nuclear was is bad kind of advice. The ending is not a happy one by any means, but it does serve to further man's (or at least science fiction script writers') determination to explore outer space.
There's nothing fancy at all about this movie, yet it really does deliver the type of message a science fiction film should carry. Along with the science, weak as it turned out to be in places, and a "scientific moral" to the story, we actually get to see characterization come to life before our very eyes (especially in terms of Floyd and Lisa). I think this 1950 film deserves to be called a classic in its field, and it still has much to offer all fans of science fiction.