Saturday, July 10, 2010

Assignment Outer Space (1960)

In the 21st century Ray Peterson, reporter for the Interplanetary News, is assigned to write a story aboard a space station. Tension mounts between Peterson and the station commander, who believes he is in the way, but has orders to leave him alone. Errant spaceship Alpha Two enters the solar system and its photon generators are radiating enough heat to destroy Earth as it approaches. It falls to Peterson to try to figure out a way to enter the spaceship, disarm the generators, and escape before suffocating.

Originally a 1960 Italian sci-fi movie called "Space Men", Assignment: Outer Space (AOS) is the title given to the english dubbed version released by Four Crowns. The film has a strong visual flavor of the late 50s. The winged rocket has a Bonstell style ala Conquest of Space and the interior sets are replete with surplus 50s electronics. The copy I watched had such washed out color that it was nearly a black and white movie. The story amounts to three loosely connected acts centered around a reporter sent on a routine space mission to get a story. The routine mission is cancelled, first for a rescue and then a mission to save the earth from destruction. This was Antonio Margheriti's first solo directing effort. He would go on to direct many more 60s Italian sci-fi space dramas.

Quick Plot Synopsis:
Ray Peterson, reporter, is assigned to the crew of rocket BZ88, which is on a fairly mundane mission. He is smug and abrasive. The crew and commander already resent having a "leech" aboard. During a refueling stop, Ray saves a crewman from death by meteorite, but causes a huge fuel leak. The tension worsens. Ray finds out that the crewman he saved was the only female: Lucy. Romance develops. The routine mission is shelved as the BZ88 is called to effect a rescue. Rocket MS13 has engine trouble is going to crash on Mars. Ray uses pull in high places force his inclusion in the rescue. Tensions get worse yet. BZ88 cannot get to MS13 in time. One crewman bails out and falls onto Phobos. The rest die when MS13 hits the Martian atmosphere. BZ88 lands on Phobos and retrieves the bailed out crewman. The BZ88 must then rush off to
 Venus to help stop a rogue spaceship, the Alpha 2. For some reason, the Alpha 2's two "Photonic units" have set up a 5000 mile diameter heat sphere around the ship. The pilot is dead and the autopilot is set to bring Alpha 2 into earth orbit. This will incinerate anyone beneath it as it orbits, eventually killing all life on earth. Missiles fired at Alpha 2 blow up when they reach the heat sphere. Al deduces that there is a gap between the two hemispheres. He tries to fly his ship in the gap, but blows up. Ray volunteers to fly the space taxi in the gap. He reaches the pilotless ship and deactivates the autopilot and the heat spheres. This also traps him aboard. The others come save him before the Alpha 2 hits earth's atmosphere. The rocket BZ88 powers up with all aboard, to safety. The End. - Classic Sci Fi Movies


81 MIN

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