U.S. astronauts reach the moon, in the 1950 Destination Moon, only because they choose to defy the government, which has ordered them to stay on the earth.  The public fears radioactivity after liftoff, but the determined astronauts slip away and take their historic flight regardless.  After they land on the moon, they are distressed to discover that getting home just might be a nonstarter.

Adapting one of his novels, Robert Heinlein co-wrote the movie’s script, so the frequently spot-on technical information is no surprise.  And for 1950 the sets are admirable, even though the outside rescue of an astronaut adrift is hopelessly stagy (and with plenty of silliness).  To be honest, DM is marred by much, but it is Hollywood earnestness at its most entertaining.  Too, I found it nigh spellbinding, and not only in the outer space scenes.  Watching it, I got a hankering to read Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, which will at least spare me, as this movie does not, the presence of Woody Woodpecker.

Directed by Irving Pichel.