109. Project Moon Base (1953)

Produced by Jack Seaman and directed by Richard Talmadge, Project Moonbase (1953) is an independent science fiction production. Futuristic, black and white, a 10 day shoot, Kevin Murphy felt this 63 minute feature was “very very short”. Bases on the moon, orbiting space station, spies. Where’s Roger Moore? Cleaning Up The Robots, Juggling Water, Insect-A-Sketch, Commando Tom Cody, Neckties of the Future, Spacom, Hanging Upside Down. “Talmadge Farm Remembers…”, “1977. Hotpants became the height of fashion”, “Inspector 12. He checked my underwear.” “Just doing laundry” or “Hey it’s Bob Newhart”?

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Water Juggling and Insect-A-Sketch.

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Commando Tom Cody.

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Spacom.

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Neckties of the Future.

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Initiate Cheesy Effects Sequence!

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One Small Step For Special Effects.

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Riffing of Radar Men From The Moon (1952). License To Kill.

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Best of 109.

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Trailer of Project Moon Base (1953).

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Musical Score.

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The previous Radar Men from the Moon installment’s cliffhanger had to be the least suspenseful of the lot. Cody gets knocked off a cliff while wearing his rocket pack. How will he ever survive? If you think that’s bad, the worst is yet to come. While lower tier studios like Republic were notorious for cutting corners, here it gets ridiculous. For the second trip to the moon, the exact same footage from the first chapter is reused without any real effort in disguising the fact. Combined with the cliffhanger resolutions always coming across as half-baked, it’s understandable why the Brains ultimately bowed out early.

The feature is most notable for having been co-written by renowned science fiction author Robert Heinlein. Much of this can be seen in how the physics are much better thought out than you usually see in these 1950s rocketship movies. The effects shots showing people in the space station walking on the walls and ceiling also displays some creativity. Another idea of interest concerns women being more prominent in the space program because of their lower average weight, resulting in less fuel being expended to get them in orbit. This last one is a concept that would be revisited in the okay-ish anime series Rocket Girls.

The character interactions leave something to be desired and provide plenty of ammo for those who accuse Heinlein of being a sexist pig. The above-mentioned weight issue of getting personnel in orbit results in some tasteless cracks made at the expense of obese reporter Polly Prattles. But what specifically chafes my hinder is the mutual hostility between Briteis and Moore, as it touches on one of my least favorite tropes. I speak of how a man and a woman expressing hatred towards one another is presented as being a sign of Twu Wuv. This goes back at least to Much Ado About Nothing, and a variant can be seen in the Kitchen Knight template frequently employed in certain tales of Arthurian lore. Can’t possibly be because they despise each other.

Also, in our old future of 1970, they’re still using baseball trivia to smoke out commies.

The riffing features some interesting visual interactions, such as Joel holding up Sixties Batman-style sound effects during one of the inevitable fistfights in the serial. Also, during a scene in the feature where General Greene spouts some exposition regarding spaceflight physics, Joel holds up cue cards.

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The POW and OOF signs KILLED. I’m thrown into memories of a certain Batman.

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It’s very apparent at this point that Commando Cody is wearing on them hard and it shows in-and-out of the theater. There definitely are some highlights here. Such as those Batman signs and the “theme song” in Chapter 8!

As for the feature: It’s one of the better efforts out of Season One. The movie’s very dated sensibilities are definitely icky, but inspires much more on-point riffing. The visuals are also giving them something to play off of. You really can see them become much more comfortable here!

The Spacom host segment is fantastic! One of my favorites out of Season One! :smiley:

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The multicolor fluctuations of the Spacom really slays. Such a great skit!

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I bet there’s a deleted scene still in a warehouse somewhere in which Steve Allen pops in and says, “I already thought of that!”

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I always get a chuckle out of this one! It might be the most sexist movie they ever did. Colonel Breiteis has a “female” moment and the male has to come to the rescue! On more than one occasion. I read somewhere that this was supposed to be a series but it was too expensive. Same thing happened to Rocky Jones. I do like this episode. It’s a solid season one experiment.

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Rewatch Horrors of Spider Island and recant.

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Okay, I recant. You win!

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This is up there. Definitely.