Director – Lesley Selander (Left Handed Law, The Tall Man)
Starring – Marguerite Chapman (Coroner Creek, Frontier Circus), Cameron Mitchell (Crossing the Line, Easy Kill), and Arthur Franz (Monster on the Campus, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man)
Release Date – 1951
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3/5
The sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s are legendary. A lot of them get mocked and made fun of but, honestly, so many modern day sci-fi and horror titles owe these films a lot. Without these films a lot of the movies and television shows wouldn’t exist. Getting old sucks but I would have loved to live through the drive-in era when all these classic sci-fi and atom age titles were hitting the big screen.
When I saw that Film Detective was releasing the 1951 sci-fi classic Flight to Mars I had to see it. This is one I had never seen before but I was very familiar with the title after watching the trailer some years back. I want to thank MVD and Film Detective for sending a review copy of the film on blu my way. I really appreciate it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the first manned flight to Mars. When the ship crash lands they find themselves created by what appears to be humans that live under the surface of Mars. The astronauts and the Martians work together to repair the ship but the Martians have other plans. Their planet is dying but they are unable to create a ship capable of space travel. They want to steal the ship from the astronauts once it’s completed but the astronauts are soon able to realize what is happening and trick the Martians before leaving the planet to return to Earth. **Spoiler Alert**
Flight to Mars is a fantastic mid-century sci-fi story that doesn’t really feel like a movie. I enjoyed it so don’t take that the wrong way. It’s a lot of fun with some beautiful sets but it felt more like an hour long television episode rather than a movie. Regardless, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to any sci-fi fan.
The acting in this one is enjoyable. The characters are very stiff and cliched but they fit the film nicely. With that being said, there was a few occasions where the flat characters with similar wardrobe would blend together creating some confusion. The film would have benefited from different wardrobes and characters with defining features or personality traits. The story is barely an hourly long but we get a great science fiction based drama that works. I really enjoyed the dramatic twist we get from the Martians and the entire plot of the film works but it feels like an episode of a much bigger project.
Finally, no blood and gore here. Instead we get gorgeous painted backdrops and scale models. It’s a lot of old movie magic showcased and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Overall, Flight to Mars is a great release from Film Detective. Fans of classic sci-fi will not want to sleep on this one. It was a great time.
Audio Commentary by author/film historian Justin Humphreys
Walter Mirisch: From Bomba to Body Snatchers – A new documentary short from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures
Interstellar Travelogues: Cinema’s First Space Race – A new documentary short with celebrated science fiction artist/historian Vincent Di Fate from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures
Full color insert booklet with an essay by Don Stradley