Sunday, June 9, 2013

1964 - FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, a Ray Harryhausen film with plot and characters for a change.

Ray Harryhausen's producer Charles H. Schneer purchased H. G. Welles novel of a trip to the moon and I will assume was probably responsible for hiring the excellent screenwriter Nigel Kneale to adapt the book.  Kneale added a very clever modern prologue and epilogue to the the film and even fleshed out the characters which included the completely unnecessary love interest.  The end result was a very good science fiction film with a lot of British humor and charm.

The cast was an unusually good one with Edward Judd and a very eccentric Lionel Jefferies as the lead characters along with American actor Martha Hyer who is not too bad in the typical heroine role.  Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves without letting the special effects get in the way

There actually aren't a lot of the famous Harryhausen animated special effects in this film.  There was no way he could have animated the dozens and dozens of Selenites that live inside the moon.  Still, the models and miniatures are extremely well done and the set design primarily done by Harryhausen is quite impressive.  The music by Laurie Johnson is effective and captures the proper Victorian mood of this film.

First Men IN the Moon is kind of a forgotten film classic in the science fiction/fantasy genre.

103 minutes.

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