Sunday, March 15, 2015

1961 - X-15, test pilots risk their lives un-huh un-huh.


The X-15 was the Air Force's program to send a man into space in a rocket like ship and have him return.  The program was probably discontinued once panic set in with the Russians sending a man into space in a capsule.  Since the United States was in a state of anxiety about the Russians in the early 1960's the X-15 program was discontinued in favor of shooting Americans into outer space in capsules as well.  The space race had begun. 

Naturally Hollywood saw this as movie material so someone dragged out the old "honey don't go fly the X-15" story line with a whiny wife yapping at the brave test pilot about his dangerous career.  All very dreary.  The film  to give the film some authenticity, it was narrated by Air Force Colonel James Stewart also know as actor Jimmy Stewart who clearly didn't read the script.


The cast of the film were virtual unknowns, with Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore the future stars.  The director was Richard Donner who would go on to have a successful career churning out decent mainstream Hollywood films.  However if you were watching this film and didn't know any of these people you would be hard pressed to see any talent in any of them. 

The film is mostly a mixture of real test footage and some animation of the X-15 in space towards the end.  The Air Force and NASA test footage has been stretched out to fill the widescreen format so everything looks weirdly distorted.  The planes crashing and the rocket engine blowing up are the real deal.  That's entertainment I guess, show someone dying for real so you can stick that footage in a cut rate film.

107 minutes

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