Sunday, August 4, 2013

Marooned (1969)

In Marooned, filmed and released at the height of the U.S.-Soviet space race, three astronauts who have spent months in space in an orbital lab (this was before Skylab and was one of the inspirations for it) are about to return home to earth when they discover that their space capsule's rockets won't fire. Richard Crenna plays Jim Pruett, the ship's commander; Gene Hackman plays Buzz Lloyd, the pilot; and James Franciscus is Clayton Stone, the ship's science officer. Back on Earth, the ground commander, Charles Keith (played by Gregory Peck), must try to save the men, and Ted Dougherty (David Janssen) is sent to attempt a daring rescue. An impending hurricane threatening to doom the rescue attempt launch and the deteriorating oxygen supply inside the capsule make Marooned a riveting, if occasionally slow-paced (at least for audiences raised on Michael Bay movies) drama.

The movie won an Oscar for special effects and even today seems extremely well done in that department. As it was contemporaneous with the space program it depicts, it stands today as an even more realistic portrayal of the technology and culture of the times than Apollo 13 or The Right Stuff.

Wikipedia has a very thorough and well-written article on Marooned for those interested in reading more about it.