First Men in the Moon (1964) is a wonderful sci-fi movie based on a H.G. Wells story. The master Ray Harryhausen did the effects for this movie and it should not be missed.
Rough Script First Men in the Moon (1964)
Welcome to Episode 22 First Men in the Moon (1964). We are following the Lionel Jeffries line from The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). This is a great movie based on an H.G. Wells story. This movie was very enjoyable mostly because of Lionel Jeffries. I also learned that H.G. Wells is a hack but more about that later.
Edward Judd was the star of the movie playing Arnold Bedford but Jeffries stole all of the scenes he was in. Judd is an English actor that started stage work when he was a teenager. By 16 he made his film debut in The Hideout (1948). He made numerous movies through the 1960s that include: Sink the Bismark (1960), The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), The Long Ships (1964), and Invasion (1966). Following the 60s he mostly worked in television through the 1990s.
Martha Hyer played Kate Callender an American from Boston who was the love interest of Bedford. Hyer was born in Texas. By 1946 she was getting small parts in movies. She had a good run of movies 1950s with such films as Down Three Dark Streets (1954), Showdown at Abilene (1956), Battle Hymn (1957), 1958’s Some Came Running (1958) with Frank Sinatra. After this, her career trailed off with her doing television and an occasional movie.
The movie begins in 1964 with a space ship “United Nations 1” landing on the moon with an international crew. The people that fear a one world government must be wetting themselves at the thought. As the whole world watches a Russian, an Englishman, and an American leave the ship. I assume that the Englishman and the American are astronauts which mean star voyager while the Russian would be a cosmonaut which means universe voyager.
Anyway, they are poking around and looking at rocks when the Russian cosmonaut, finds a Union Jack flag and a piece of paper claiming the moon in the name of Queen Victoria the 1st who lived from 1837-1901. The paper is dated 1899.
It is very fortunate that the Russian found the paper given the Cold War tension. If the English astronaut found it the other two would have cried foul. They get the paper back to the ship and send it by space fax back to UN HQ. The note is written on a summons for Kate Callender (Martha Hyer) so a multi-national delegation heads to the records office in a quiet English town.
After a little bit of doing the clerk remembers Kate Callender and that although she has passed her husband Arnold Bedford (Edward Judd) is still alive and is in the local nursing home. The delegation goes to the home and finds out that Arnold is unaware of the space mission. When they talk to him he thinks they are there because of the warning letters he has been sending out for decades. When he learns that men are on the moon he warns the delegation to get them home.
Arnold begins to tell his tale. He has moved into a country cottage where he intends to write a play. He is deeply in debt and is renting the cottage. His American girlfriend Kate shows up in a motor car. He lies to her and says he owns the cottage. Nice boyfriend. He claims that a lot of his money is tied up in boots from the Boer War. This war took place from 1899-1902 and saw the British Empire fighting Dutch settlers in South Africa.
Arnold takes Kate’s car into town and the next door neighbor Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries) drops by and wants to buy the cottage. He is concerned that his experiments are dangerous. Cavor remembers his experiment and runs off leaving his bicycle behind. When Arnold returns he puts the bike into the car and heads to Cavor’s house. Arnold knows he can’t sell the cottage because he doesn’t own it.
Cavor is cooking up his anti-gravity paint that he has named Cavorite. Arnold sees the paint working when he is lifted to the ceiling in a chair. After that, Arnold is all in. He will do anything to get a share of the money that is going to be made from Cavorite. He talks about its war applications if it was painted on the bottom of boots. Cavor shows Arnold his moon ship which looks vaguely like a World War II sea mine. He is ready to go on a two person round trip to the moon.
Arnold agrees to sell the cottage he doesn’t own to Cavor. Arnold has Kate sign the papers selling the cottage with a cock and bull story about hiding it from his debtors. Nice boyfriend.
Sometime later Kate is given a summons for fraudulently selling the cottage. She is mad as a hen. Cavor blows the roof off of his house and Kate goes to find Arnold and they make up. She brings them an elephant gun, chickens, and feed.
This ship takes off with Cavor, Arnold, and by accident Kate. Cavor pilots the ship to a moon landing by controlling the Cavorite.
Bagging an elephant quote
When the two men are ready to explore they put Kate in an airtight cabinet and they get into deep sea diving suits complete with brass helmets. In the Well’s book, he did not have suits because he wrote that the moon had an atmosphere. This could have been disproven at the time because the moon disk would have a haze around the edge when viewed by a telescope. Their space suits didn’t have gloves and there is much debate about what would happen. Most sites seem to indicate it would cause swelling, pain, and bruising but no long term damage.
The two moonwalkers leave the flag and the note and then discover an insect colony that lives underground on the moon. Hence the time first men in not on the moon. Cavor names them Selenites after the Greek moon goddess Selene. The two men escape back to the ship and find that it has been drug underground with Kate still inside. This seems to have been used in The Time Machine (1960) when the Morlocks drug the time machine underground. Hack.
Also, I want to take a minute to warn you never to watch The Time Machine (2002). If you do you will try to build a time machine to get those two hours back. Just saying.
The two men find the drag trail for the ship and head into the underground bug city to find Kate. The are attacked by a giant caterpillar. The Selenites eventually kill the moon bull with their stun rays. The two earthlings realize that the Selenite city is powered by sunlight that focuses through a large glass panel.
The Selenites begin communicating but they have to power down regularly. Arnold slips away and finds the ship being disassembled by the Selenites. Once the Selenites have learned English they begin having a conversation with Cavor. Cavor thinks its is about the scientific exchange but Arnold thinks they are putting the Earth man on trial. Finally, Cavor is admitted to see the big guy, the Grand Lunar. Arnold tries to get Cavor to escape and in the struggle, the elephant gun is fired at the Grand Lunar. Cavor decides to stay behind in the name of science. Arnold and Kate escape and fly the ship through the glass panels and back to earth.
As Arnold finishes his story he says the ship splashed down near Zanzibar and sank. They never hear from Cavor again.
Back in the present Arnold and the delegation watch the television as the astro/cosmonauts are breaking into the Selenite city. It is decayed and there is no life there. They barely escape as the city falls down around them.
Arnold looks out the window and comments on how bad Cavor’s cold was and how the Selenites had not immunity. He smiles. Of course, Well’s used this bit in The War of the Worlds (1953). What a hack.
The effects for this film were done by the master Ray Harryhausen. Because of the film ratio many of the models had to be sculpted in “squeezed” dimensions so they would appear normal in the film.
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