Monthly Movie Spotlight: Destination Moon
Made nearly two decades before the title destination was reached in real life, Destination Moon (1950) is a landmark in sci-fi cinema, a fairly serious-minded attempt, co-scripted by Robert A. Heinlein, to depict a scientifically plausible lunar expedition.
It’s a little too serious-minded, really. The director was the memorable character actor Irving Pichel, and his presence could have been used onscreen; the astronauts, led by John Archer (Anne’s Dad) are painfully one-dimensional. Woody Woodpecker turns up near the beginning to explain the problems of space travel, and he’s probably the richest and most complex character in the movie.
Having said that, Destination Moon ought to be seen, not only as a highly influential piece of pop culture but also for its visual beauty. The lunar surface, cracked like a dry river bed, the craggy mountains in the background, and the star-scapes, designed by the great astronomical painter Chesley Bonestall, still have the power to stir the imagination even now, decades after we decided the Moon wasn’t all that worthwhile of a destination.