Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Overlooked Movies: Capricorn One

Here's a timely little conspiracy film. Well, sort of timely.  It was made in an era when we thought that a manned mission from Mars might very well happen during our lifetimes.  I doubt that many people think that now, but as I write this on Sunday evening, the rover Curiosity is headed for  Mars.  I hope it's more successful than the mission in this movie.  (Update: It was.)

You see, the problem is that the Mars mission is going to fail, so the head of NASA sets up a fake landing that'll be filmed in the desert.  The astronauts don't want to go along, but finally they agree.  When the Mars rocket burns up on reentry, they realize they can't be allowed to live.  Their lives depend on Elliot Gould, an intrepid investigative reporter.  

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit when I saw it in the theater years ago.  How long?  Well, O. J. Simpson plays one of the astronauts, which should give you a clue.  He's not bad in the part, either, though not up to Hal Holbrook, Gould, and Sam Waterston.  One of the other astronauts is James Brolin.  I don't know if Gould was still married to Barbra Streisand at the time this movie was made, but I do know that Brolin is married to her now.  Not that it has anything to do with this movie, which is worth your time if it shows up on your cable channel.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:12 AM

    Nope. Gould and Streisand were married from 1963-1971 and the movie came out in 1978, 20 years before she married Brolin.

    I always wondered if this one fueled all the conspiracy theorists who believed (and still believe, I'd bet) that the Moon landing was faked.

    Jeff

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  2. No, that nonsense was very much in the thinner air when CAP 1 came along to exploit it.

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  3. Mike Doran9:47 AM

    The writer-director of this picture was Peter Hyams, who just a few years before was the second-string news anchorman (mainly weekends), at WBBM-Channel 2, the CBS station in Chicago.

    What I mainly recall about him as an anchor was that he had the largest eyes of anyone I'd ever seen on TV - kind of like those little-girl paintings you find at swap meets. Not the ideal look for a newsman, exactly, and it probably explains why he sought out another line of work.

    That said, I did like this picture a lot, especially David Doyle as Elliott Gould's boss at the newspaper, a real '40s throwback.
    Also Telly Savalas as the desert pilot ("Keep your Goddamn head down!")
    And Sam Waterston's nonstop gags as the third guy in the capsule (back then he was the least-known of the leads).
    And David Huddleston and James Karen as smarmy politicos with their own agendas.
    And on and on and on ...

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  4. Thanks for the reminder, Bill. I hadn't thought about this movie in ages. I too saw it in the theater.

    LOVED the ending!

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