Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Countdown (1967)

Starring James Caan, Joanna Moore, Robert Duvall, Barbara Baxley, Charles Aidman
Directed by Robert Altman
(actor & director credits courtesy

As NASA ramps up efforts to land a man on the moon before the Russians can, they change their choice for the astronaut, giving him only three weeks to train for the mission.

A realistic imagining of the behind-the-scenes preparations for the first lunar mission, this film has a timely resonance, released only a year before Neil Armstrong actually set foot on the moon.  Drama is mined from the original astronaut being passed over, the impact of the new astronaut's mission on his wife, and a concerned doctor trying to talk him out of the mission, well-conveyed by a fine cast including Caan, Moore, Duvall, and Aidman.  However, the film doesn't really become exciting until the rocket takes off, culminating in a climactic sequence on the moon highlighted by a fantastic lunar set.

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