Conquest of Space

5.71 h 20 min195513+
From a space wheel 500 miles above the Earth, commander Samuel Merritt (Walter Brooke) and his men (including Eric Fleming and Benson Fong) construct a sleek robot, then receive orders providing their new craft's destination: Mars!
Byron Haskin
Walter BrookeEric FlemingMickey Shaughnessy
Science Fiction
English [CC]
Audio languages
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4.2 out of 5 stars

267 global ratings

  1. 55% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 20% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 14% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 6% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Fred RingwaldReviewed in the United States on December 1, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Of definite historical interest, but it won't fly with modern audiences
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Let's give the 1955 film “The Conquest of Space” by George Pal credit for trying to be what the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Stanley Kubrick achieved (and did so well that "2001: A Space Odyssey " still looks good, even to careful viewing). "The Conquest of Space" did try to get many details right, working with the engineering plans of Wernher von Braun, the artwork of Chesley Bonestell, and the book by Willy Ley and Bonestell (with a screenplay changed a lot for the film, but that’s nothing new).

The influence of “The Conquest of Space” on later sci-fi is obvious. A rotating wheel space station in Earth orbit as a way station to deep space appears in "2001" (and in the very first book on space I ever had as a child, a little book with the word "Space" on its black cover the author of which I wish I could remember). (Can anyone help me find this book?) Bad space food found its way into "2001," funny since the Space Food Sticks and Tang of real life were never that bad. The magnetic shoes of “The Conquest of Space” became the grip shoes of “2001”: real astronauts don’t use either, although they do sometimes use foot restraints. An astronaut who decides it's "wrong" to go into space appears in a 1966 “Star Trek” episode. Scenes of astronauts being thrown around in a spacecraft in trouble are also echoed in “Star Trek,” even though at the speeds they’re going, they’d likely be squashed beyond flat.

Still, how times have changed since 1955! I wouldn't dare show “The Conquest of Space” to an audience of college students today. The film’s portrayal of hypermasculinity, so popular among the G.I. generation, would get today’s audiences howling. Look at the name of the film: the “Conquest” of space. The racism (even when probably meant to be complimentary, as in the line, "You're not a little man"), a gratuitous girlie scene (with a song by a young and very beautiful Rosemary Clooney about how she apparently enjoys being in a harem), and the depictions of smoking by many astronauts will not play in the Peoria of 2019.

And of course, at the end, the astronauts agree among themselves to lie about what happened on the mission. The G.I. generation was much more tolerant of being lied to “for official purposes" than Americans are today. In the 1954 sci-fi film “Them,” the characters also agree to lie to the public about what they saw, and the film clearly portrays this as the "right" thing to do. (The crew of “The Conquest of Space” didn’t have live TV coverage of their mission: but then, Apollo 11 didn’t have firearms.)

"The Conquest of Space" often goes too far for dramatic effect. The dialogue between Sergeant Stowaway and the young captain is so aggressive that, even in the 1960s, my Dad wouldn’t let me repeat it. Nearly as egregious are scientific implausibilities well known even in 1955, such as showing astronauts taking off their gloves on Mars, or having a stowaway on board, or expressing surprise that they were being ordered to go to Mars and not the Moon. (Come on, Mars is over 200 times farther away.)

I am willing to overlook many special effects that audiences today often find comical. I often regard that as part of the fun in old sci-fi. Sometimes, old technology is impressive, for example the stop-motion photography in the 1960 film adaptation by George Pal of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. However, there is some rather noticeably bad matte work in "The Conquest of Space," especially toward the end.

Because it tried to get things right and was an influence on other films, I won't give "The Conquest of Space" one star, since it does have historical merit. However, don’t play this film to modern audiences without a prominent trigger warning: you risk a riot if you ignore this precaution.
7 people found this helpful
Steven W. BowersReviewed in the United States on January 10, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another George Pal classic
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Okay guys, let's be honest here. Compared to other George Pal produced and directed films this one is a little hokey but considering that nothing in the film was even close to being imagined in real life I would say that the only thing that kept us from having a space station like the one depicted was pure politics.the fact that they were dealing with subject matter such as space physiology and psychology made the film that much more realistic.
One of the things that always impresses me in these movies is the ginormous size of the space that they have in these space vehicles. I'm sure the guys in the ISS would love to have that much room and their space station.
All in all though it is George Pal perhaps not at his best but still the genius shines through the film.
2 people found this helpful
JWC IIReviewed in the United States on December 17, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Visual Vision Of The Future As It Was Thought To Be...FUN :) :) :)
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George Pal does it once again !
Can't wait to pre-order the blu-ray, from Via Vision's Imprint Films (Australia) through Amazon, which will be released on March 30th, 2022. The SRP (in the AU) is $39.95, but whatever the price I will pre-order this one ASAP :) :) :) I hope that it will be much sooner, than later, so that I can get my order in fast !
Hope that the next film will be "The Seven Faces Of Dr.Lao" ? Please remain safe & well, have fun, with family & friends (even if by phone).... :) :) :)

EinsatzReviewed in the United States on March 12, 2013
3.0 out of 5 stars
"We'll have no unnecessary floating on this ship!"
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This was a sci-fi movie from the 50s that had somehow escaped my attention until now. I had no expectations when I started watching it, only the distant warnings that this was George Pal's folly and flop. To be sure, it is a little dated and not a little silly at times. But, it did manage to hold my interest throughout and I found that I liked it well enough to keep it in my collection for future viewings.
The plot is basic; a space station is orbiting the Earth, enabling a crew to construct a spaceship that will take them to the moon. These plans however, are abruptly discarded for a trip to Mars instead. The news is not taken well by several members of the space station, not surprising given their fearless leader's penchant for drafting volunteers. It also doesn't help that several members of the space station are suffering `space fatigue.' Add to the mix a disgruntled son (Eric Fleming) who wants to go home to his wife. Unfortunately, their fearless leader (Walter Brooke) is also his father. The father is followed around by a lap dog, Sgt Mahoney (Mickey Shaughnessy) who feels the General can do no wrong, even when proven that he is clearly deranged. When it comes to insanity, rank does have its privileges.
There are more than a few laughable sequences in this film, such as when Benson Fong's character takes off the gloves of his spacesuit so that he can play with the Martian soil. Also amusing is the notion that space travel always requires that at least one person brings a revolver!
I must add that I was a bit taken aback by the abrupt addition of religion by a character (the general) whose own son was confused by his sudden interest in the Bible and there being no mention in it of man going into space. Obviously, both men had been living in space for quite some time and the trip to the moon was eagerly anticipated by the general who suddenly decided, very late in the game, that it was a curse and an abomination to God! I felt the religious aspect a bit arbitrary and not a little disconcerting. Not everyone who reads the Bible turns into a homicidal maniac. To make that a form of dementia is insulting to say the least. And without a proper setup, a bit confusing that they would resort to something so cliché to explain the general's sudden trip into insanity.

Still, it had its moments.
9 people found this helpful
Max SunReviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Back To The Future
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A spectacular movie in terms of special effects and colorful sets along with an interesting trip to Mars story, including a twist involving religious fanaticism.

The space station, Mars rocket, and Mars landscape are well done. The acting is a mix of good and wooden. The mission captain endangers everyone with his religious take on man’s place in the scheme of things. Worth a watch for retro sci-fi fans.
Magnifying GlassReviewed in the United States on November 4, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars
Tangerine Sands and Black Volcanic Boulders
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Space station built! What next? Go to the Moon or to Mars? In this 1954 movie, it's Mars first!

Spaceship One has three components: a large sweptback wing, an Earth-return rocket mounted on top, and an Earth-to-Mars booster attached to its end. Crew capacity: 5.

Mission: Fire Earth-to-Mars booster to obtain a Mars intercept trajectory. Before entering atmosphere, eject booster, brake with wing rockets, glide to a landing, erect the return rocket, and begin a resource survey. On return day, launch into Earth intercept trajectory. Upon nearing Earth, brake into the station's orbit.

General Merritt: command pilot. Responsible for the construction of the space station and the spaceship.

Captain Merritt: copilot. The general's son wanted to go back to Earth, but the Mars mission changed his mind.

Sergeants Imoto (geologist), Siegle (electronics specialist), and Fodor (medical specialist) complete the crew.

Sergeant Major Mahoney: responsible for crew selectees. Devoted to General Merritt. Concerned about dental hygiene.

Warning! Do not float from the shuttle to the station; you will probably miss. Do not remove gloves on Mars; you will lose consciousness. Do not fill a water tank with Martian snow; it may be carbon dioxide. And, most importantly, do not board a Mars bound spaceship if anyone shows signs of space fatigue. Such a person could be a grave risk to ship and crew.

In summary, Conquest of Space is an excellent movie. It is pure science fiction with reasonable extrapolations of science and technology into the future of 1954. The sets, special effects, and acting are excellent.

Picture: excellent. No cropping. Sound: excellent. Volume: typical.

If you prefer to go to the Moon first, check out: Project Moonbase [[ASIN:6305869359 Project Moonbase]] .
3 people found this helpful
Stan the ManReviewed in the United States on June 9, 2012
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great retro space flic
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As a long-time George Pal fan, I have enjoyed "(The) Conquest of Space" ever since I saw it as a kid in an actual theater; and have seen this movie many, many times since.
This particular version (in widescreen and with the "blue background / yellow title" original theatrical poster artwork on the DVD cover) is fabulous but I do have one overwhelming critique concerning this particular version which is that THIS version comes with sub-titles that can NOT be turned off. Yipes!! Otherwise, this version is pretty decent.
Fortunately, I only bought this version to simply get the cover art. I then bought the official Paramount video version (different DVD cover and NO undeleteable sub-titles!); then switched disks so that I wound up with the Paramount disk along with the original poster art cover). Am I a "Conquest of Space" addict or what? So beware ... if you don't like sub-titles, then do NOT buy >THIS< DVD; buy the official Paramount disk instead.
HISTORICAL NOTES : In the film, Mars is depicted as having craters & volcanoes. The Martian surface shots are equally eye-popping as the ground is reddish with dark rocks everywhere. Why is this amazing? Well, this was filmed in 1955, 10 long years or so BEFORE anyone really knew what Mars actually looked like. Are some of the other Martian planetary approach shots perfect? No! Because we now know there are actually no surface lakes or green areas on the planet. Nevertheless, most of the Martian landscape shots were fairly accurate and far ahead of their time. In 1955 no one knew about the craters & volcanoes which exist on Mars.
Otherwise, the spaceship and the Space Station (AKA "The Wheel") were fairly well depicted. The religious motif is a bit heavy handed yet tolerable within the framework of the story. And last, but not least, one wishes that the International Space Station was actually more "wheel-like" as in COS & 2001:ASO. Anyway: a well made, fun film.
4 people found this helpful
Daniel J. FiliceReviewed in the United States on June 27, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic Sci-Fi Space Travel
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I received three classic Sci-Fi space travel movies from Amazon for my birthday: Conquest of Space, Rocketship X-M and Destination Moon. All three movies have a few similar traits that reflect the time-frame when they were made: 1) All astronauts wore WWII military type clothes in space and only needed a space helmet with oxygen, 2) Interiors of the rocket ships all reflect WWII military technology, 3) All crews seem to have one wise-cracking smart guy who played the harmonica, and 4) When a rocket ship needed to land, they all spun around backwards and landed on their fins. Now that's technological nostalgia! I loved all three of these movies. I think Destination Moon had the best FX and showed what weightlessness in space was like much better. But for those Sci-Fans like me who love the old classic (but sometimes silly) space movies, you need to have Conquest of Space, Rocketship X-M and Destination Moon!
5 people found this helpful
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