SATURDAY AFTERNOON B-MOVIE CRAPFEST: “Rocketship X-M” (1950)

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Once upon a time I was a groomsman in a wedding party I didn’t want to be involved with in the first place, because I really didn’t like the bossy woman my friend was marrying. The bride then talked the groom into talking me into going on a date with one of the bridesmaids, whom I’d never met, and wasn’t terribly interested in by reputation (“Oh, you‘ll love her! She‘s so smart and funny, just like you! And she likes weird music, like you do and she‘s short, just like you like ‘em.” “When have you *Ever* known me to go out with a short chick?” “Oh, yeah, well...and…uhm…she‘s funny!”) I met her and found her to be almost-passably attractive, but with a big ass and she insisted on wearing sweatpants out to dinner, and there was something weird going on with her hair, and she was just kind of bitchy all night long because she didn’t want to be there, either. It goes without saying that she was not funny at all. Not even remotely. In fact, it was almost as if she was a visitor from a strange planet where humor wasn’t even a *concept.* Then, at the end of the night, I lied about having a nice time and tried to give her the old handshake because I *Really* didn’t like her by this point, and I certainly didn’t want my lips anywhere near her. She just sneered at me and walked off, without even so much as a nice, snarky “Well at least the food was good,” she went grunting off into the night.

This movie is a whole lot like that.

There’s a sense of the tedium that comes only from social obligation. There’s a kind of eye-rolling ennui at work here that can only properly be expressed in terms of interminable bad dates, endless discussions of art history spewing from the mouths of pretentious-yet-cute undergraduate girls who don’t actually know anything about it, or equally endless discussions of music theory from people who *do.* This is the Dennys-at-3AM of movies, more stupendously boring than a Jim Jarmusch flick, as unblinkingly dead-eyed as “Rumblefish” and “Paris, Texas” combined.

This is not a date movie, rather this is a bad date movie, a bad date that just won’t freakin’ end! You didn’t want to be there in the first place, you know where it’s going - nowhere - you know how it’ll end - badly - and you’ve got that paperwork due on Monday, and you just can’t get this thing to go any faster, and it just keeps dragging on and dragging on and - Oh, good grief, is she calling the desert cart over? - and you’re hoping those raccoons you saw in the parking lot could somehow get in here and attack her. Then it dawns on you: This isn’t just boring, it’s *advanced* boring!

So of course I’ve seen this movie at least eight times.

Premise: First Rocket To The Moon, carrying a crew of five, including one surprisingly attractive woman for a film of this sort. En rout to the moon, they have some technical problems, and black out, only to wake up “Days” later (But completely free of any stubble) in orbit around Mars instead. (Because evidently the Moon and Mars are closer than Lincoln and Omaha) They land, find the remains of a once-advanced civilization which blew itself up in atomic wars (Oooh! Social commentary!), then get attacked by cavemen. (“Foolish humans! Your superior weapons and intellects are no match for my hairy back and my ability to hurl rocks in random directions!”*). The survivors attempt to fly back to earth, but screw up, and the Lloyd Bridges and the surprisingly-attractive chic profess their love to each other and die in a fiery crash.

That’s pretty much it, but goes on for 77 minutes. Now, I know I’ve poked wise at these inexplicably-short movies in the past - the last two have clocked in at around 63 minutes - but I think I repent and recant my earlier comments: I much prefer a movie that bores us in one big horse-pill, than one that ladles out boredom over a much longer period of time. Yeah, I realize an hour and seventeen minutes isn’t really all that much longer than sixty three, but subjectively, man, it’s just way too much. And bear in mind: I’m the guy who *likes* Russian cinema!

I don’t get the need for it, really. I mean. I can’t think of anything they do in this movie that they couldn’t do just as badly in far less time. Oh, and it’s got the guy who played James Garner’s dad from “The Rockford Files” in it.

All this is made vastly more tedious by the nonexistent and ludicrous science in the film, and their laborious need to *explain* everything before they actually did it. Remember: this is 1950, before most audiences even knew what a rocket was. ("Is it some kind of string? I heard it's string. Is that it?") These explanations are grueling and long, and yet they still manage to get darn near everything wrong in them.

Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!

If, however, you’re a glutton for punishment, Neorandomizer found me this link, so you can watch it here http://www.archive.org/details/RocketshipXM The entire thing is also on Youtube in the MST3K form here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKf_rp0aBN4 but even that is darn-near unwatchable, even though it’s the first appearance of TV’s Frank.

 

 

*-That’s not actually a quote from the movie. I made it up. I had plenty of time to make stuff up during the movie, because NOTHING HAPPENS!

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