Flight To Mars

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Flight To Mars


English   Country: USA   Year: 1951

Flight To Mars


Lesley Selander


Marguerite Chapman; Cameron Mitchell


Sci Fi & Fantasy


A newspaper man and a group of scientist head-off to meet the Martians.


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User Reviews


(Average=3.12 out of 5; Total Number=8)

Bad Original Print (rating=1)

I collect 1950s era Sci-Fi and I have been replacing my VHS versions with DVDs. Unfortunately, I need to keep my VHS version for this movie because the print that Image Entertainment made this from was in such poor shape. The VHS version by UAV Entertainment (The Wade Williams Collection) is MUCH better. Hopefully, UAV will come out with a DVD version soon.

Great Movie -- Bad Transfer. (rating=3)

This is yet another great SciFi classic that I first saw as a kid way back in the mid 20th century. I've seen it since on TV and VHS and I was very excited when I heard it was to be realeased on DVD. That excitement was soon dampened when I viewed this DVD. The original image used for transfer is absolutely horrible. There is fading, graining, and many splices that make the film jump and in some spots causes choppy dialog - and those are the minor faults. Almost immediatly after the film begins there appears a very distracting brown smuge directly in the middle of the screen. A very anoying blemish that changes shape and contorts for nearly a third of the movie.
Unfortunately, this is the only DVD copy of this film available so I whole-heartedly recommend it as a buy for collectors. Most of the movie looks pretty good, but the defaults really make it a dissapointment. Too bad they couldn't find a better print to copy from. Guess I'll have to keep my VHS edition as a back-up.

Not A Bad Fifties Science Fiction Film, But Rather Boring (rating=4)

"Flight to Mars" is not really a bad 1950s science fiction film, it just happens to be a rather boring film with what is probably the most abrupt ending in the genre's history. It is not that the script is so awful (there are philosophical discussions on whether each corpuscle is an entire universe) or that the acting is bad (it is actual decent for this sort of movie). But the film just does not seem to click. Maybe it is because a half-century later we have seen every bit of this plot in a dozen other films. "Flight to Mars" clearly divides into two parts. The first focuses on the flight to Mars and is fairly scientific in its approach to the proceedings (somewhat reminiscent of Herge's classic two-part comic book of Tintin going to the Moon, but not even half as god).. The second, once the crew arrives on Mars, turns into a sort of Flash Gordon-type space opera (with specific effects on about the same level).

The first rocket of exploration launched by the United States decides to bypass the moon and head straight for Mars (the reasoning for this curious choice is clearly cinematic; we know there is nothing on the moon in 1951 but who knows what we might find on Mars). The crew for this monumental expedition consists of Dr. Jim Barker (Arthur Franz), who created the rocket, his assistant Carol Stafford (Virginia Huston), a pair of older scientists, Dr. Lane (John Litel) and Professor Jackson (Richard Gaines), and a war reporter, Steve Abbott (Cameron Mitchell). At first I was wondering why these were letting too older guys go on this dangerous mission and I thought it might be because they were old and wise, but it turns out to be because this way only Jim and Steve join Carol in the film's love triangle.

Once they arrive on Mars they discover a complex underground civilization. There are delights to be seen and offers of help from the ruling council, but it turns out to be a sham. The Martians want to use the rocket to get off their dying planet and colonize earth. But that is okay. The Martians might want to take over the earth but Jim gets them back: he teaches the natives how to play bridge ("They will never forgive you," warns one of the professors). Meanwhile, Steve is interested in Carol, but Carol has been pining for Jim for three years. Jim has been too busy being a scientist to notice Carol, but he falls for local gal Alita once they get on Mars. When Carol finally adds up the score she dissolves into tears while Steve spends an hour playing solitaire waiting for her to wise up. Amazingly enough when the rocket was sabotaged and they were all going to die in space or on Mars Carol never shed a tear.

"Flight to Mars" is directed by Lesley Selander, who primarily made Westerns and directed eight other films in 1951. The film is made in color, which matters little except for the red costumes of the Martian's ruling council, which are kind of neat looking. Made during the Cold War there is an inclination to see an appropriate sub-text to "Flight to Mars," especially with those red outfits, but that seems to be a bit of a reach in this case. Again, this film ultimately reminds me more of a Flash Gordon serial than anything else. Besides, it proves once again that not even an advanced civilization on a distant planet can stand up to a small group of Americans with a plan and a strong right hook.


In the far-off year 2000, newspaperman Cameron Mitchell packs up with a group of scientists and heads to Mars in a rocket that resembles a hood ornament from a '56 Oldsmobile. After the rather wobbly miniature takes off, our heroes (clad in khaki uniforms and WWII leather bomber jackets) encounter a storm of asteroids, but soon enough land on Mars. No one seems too surprised to encounter a race of humans on the planet, so the astronauts make themselves at home. The Martians are technically far more advanced than puny Earthlings (you can tell by the abundance of Herman Miller furniture and sexy Mars-girl outfits), but their hospitality masks a hidden agenda: conquest of Earth in order to establish additional lebensraum for their own dying race. Interestingly, this was director Lesley Selander's sole foray into sci-fi, having spent most of his career working on low-budget Westerns. Though the plot is thin, the bankroll skimpy, and the characterizations narrow,Flight to Mars prefigures the '50s sci-fi boom and is interesting for its set design, costumes, and rather washed-out Technicolor. Its 71-minute running time keeps things rolling quickly enough to stave off boredom. For '50s space-opera aficionados, this is better than an hour and 11 minutes spent mowing the lawn.--Jerry Renshaw