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Beyond the Moon

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Actors: Richard Crane, Sally Mansfield, Scotty Beckett, Robert Lyden, Charles Meredith / Director: Hollingsworth Morse / Writers: Carl K. Hittleman, Marianne Mosner, Warren Wilson / Producers: Arthur Pierson, Guy V. Thayer Jr., Roland D. Reed / Studio: Alpha Video / Released: 22 Jun 2004

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      26.11.2012 14:33
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      Not brilliant, but may have been good at the time.

      "Beyond the Moon" is a 1956 film that was made for TV which was taken from the "Rocky Jones: Space Ranger" series which ran for 2 seasons and 39 episodes in 1954. It was created by Roland D. Reed and written by Warren Wilson and directed by Hollingsworth Morse. The movie appeared on Mill Creek's "Sci-Fi Invasion" 50 movie pack which I purchased so I decided to write a review about it after watching. After doing some research, I found out that this isn't really a movie as such and was a patch-up of the first three episodes of "Rocky Jones: Space Ranger", which were edited down to the standard 90 minutes.

      The film stars Richard Crane as Rocky Jones, Scotty Beckett as his co-pilot Winky and Sally Mansfield as Vena Ray, the crew navigator. Crane had enjoyed success in the 1940s as an actor of many films including "Wing and a Prayer" (1944), "Waterfront at Midnight" (1948) and "Someone to Remember" (1943), while Beckett was the child star of "Our Gang" who became an alcoholic and drug addict who died at the age of 38 after overdosing on depressants mixed with alcohol. Mansfield enjoyed a long career as a character actress but never really enjoyed the limelight after being in the spotlight with "Rocky Jones: Space Ranger".

      The plot for the film reads as follows: The United Worlds are stunned when long-time aide Professor Newton declares his allegiance to the planet Ophiuchius and its ruler Cleolanthe. Space Ranger Rocky Jones and his sidekick Winky set out to Ophiuchius in order to learn the truth about Professor Newton's defection. With Vena Ray along for the ride, Rocky hopes to save the Professor and his ward Bobby from the nefarious schemes of the evil Cleolanta.

      So now you have the details and plot, here are my thoughts. As this was filmed in 1956, you can't expect to see anything noteworthy via way of special effects, and CGI was many years away so what you get is plenty of shoddy-looking shots of the space rocket taking off and landing, which is clearly done using scale models, and the same car that was used on two different planets. Also present are dodgy props including a brightly spinning roulette wheel which is supposed to be the space station around Ophiuchius and what can only be described as goldfish bowls for use of space helmets which the crew just plonked on their heads clearly without fastening them to anything, which, as we know now from science, would have resulted in certain death. I also chuckled at a scene involving Professor Newton (Maurice Cass) in which he told the United Worlds of his intent to stay on Ophiuchius, which was preceded by a black and white still on the monitor which said "Professor Newton's Declaration" in big, bold letters. My favourite was the hypnotizing machine that Cleolanta (Patsy Parsons) used to get her captives to stay, which was essentially a big, bright bulb that flashed on and off. All the above were quite laughable, not just from a cheesy sci-fi aspect, but also from a technological view. "Star Trek" was a decade away from being broadcast and even "Lost in Space" would look polished next to this offering.

      I don't know how things worked in the 1950s but Rocky and Winky appear to be a little (ok, a lot) sexist towards Vena. Smart comments such as Rocky telling Winky that she was sat back there out of her depth so she could "knit a sweater", or telling her to use some of that "woman's intuition" would have got the PC brigade in a sweat if it was filmed in this day and age.

      In summary, the special effects may have been good back then but I wasn't around to witness the 1950s. I somehow doubt that they were very good, though, but the plot for the film wasn't all that bad, even if the actors did get a little excited at times. The main problem I have with this offering is the fact that it isn't original and is made up of a few episodes of its TV show counterpart, and that is the main reason why I've only scored it as below average. If only it had been something new, I might well have rated it a couple of notches higher.

      My rating: 4/10

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