MAROONED

maroonedposter.jpgI hadn’t seen MAROONED since I was a youngster, but I caught it the other evening thanks to the wonder that is TiVo. It was directed by John Sturges and stars Gregory Peck as the Flight Director trying to get three stranded astronauts down after their Apollo spacecraft malfunctions, leaving the crew (played by Richard Crenna, James Franciscus, and Gene Hackman) stranded in orbit. David Janssen plays the astronaut who will pilot an experimental winged spacecraft up in a daring rescue attempt.

To be honest, it’s a pretty good film. Although a lot of the same ground is covered in APOLLO 13, I was surprised at how good the film was and how solid the grounding on real engineering was. Plus, the archival footage of various space launches was a treat. Some of the popular clips are recognizable from within longer sequences.

The Apollo hardware was fairly good, and the special effects were more than acceptable. It would have been nice if they had used the X-20 DynaSoar or the X-24 as the rescue vehicle. I would have liked to see the Air Force boys dusting off the cancelled X-20 in order to save the day. As far as I know, the ‘XR-V’ vehicle used in the film wasn’t a real program, though it seemed to be pretty close to the X-24. And it was launched atop a Titan IIIC, which was to be the X-20’s launch vehicle. It’s the attention to that sort of detail that really stood out to me.

With those sorts of things in the news all the time when the movie came out (1969) I guess they were sort of obligated to stick closer to reality, because the audience back then would catch obvious crocks much more easily than today’s audiences. Today, in fact, I don’t think many people would care even if they could tell the difference.

MAROONED is available on DVD, and a review is available at DVDFile. All in all, a good flick.

Comments

  1. It was also the only Academy Award winner ever shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (episode 401, under the title ‘Space Travelers’). Its award was for Achievement in Special Effects. And yeah, ’twas a hell of a lot more accurate than anything getting released today.

  2. Sheesh… I haven’t seen that movie in a long time. I never caught the MST3k presentation – although I must say I’m surprised they picked it as it wasn’t a movie like Teenagers from Outer Space or, say, Attack of the Killer Shrews. Kind of sad that two of the most ‘accurate’ science fiction movies ever came out in ’68 and ’69. Aside from this one and 2001, the only movies that paid any kind of attention to the actual mechanics space travel were 2010 and Outland. You can give movies like Star Wars a flier, as they’re really space opera; but movies like Armageddon were painful for me (and for anyone near me) to watch. Just think, the Air Force in the sixties had a prototype spaceplane more capable than the planned CEV NASA hopes to have flying in 2018.

  3. Buckethead : it’s the same problem the military has I think. Our culture is simply too risk-averse and pork-laden. All that progress from the early-to-mid 20th century was because people were prepared to task risks in order to do wonderful things. Think anybody would be allowed to test the Wright Flyer in this day and age? It would require FAA approval, waiver statements, liability insurance, government oversight, blah blah blah… The other problem is that modern projects don’t have the right incentives any more. It used to be that you had to complete the contract properly in order to get paid. These days it seems like everything is paid up front and with limitless budgets. *big sigh* I say, if people want to strap a rocket on their back and see what happens – as long as they aren’t totally insane – let ’em do it. And to hell with ‘cost plus’ projects.