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H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon

H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon (1964)

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Release Date: Nov 20, 1964 Wide

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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 1,744

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Movie Info

First Men in the Moon is an H.G. Welles cinemadaptation from director Nathan Juran. When scientists in the year 1964 are confused by evidence of a long-ago space flight, nonagenarian Arnold Bedford (Edward Judd) explains all. Back in 1899, Bedford, eccentric scientist Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries) and heroine Kate Callender (Martha Hyer) took a trip to the moon in a home-made space vehicle. Once on the lunar surface, they encountered an alien civilization resembling an ant colony, complete with

Mar 26, 2002

Sony Pictures Entertainment

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All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (2) | DVD (9)

Despite its flaws, FIRST MEN IN THE MOON remains a charming entertainment that stirs our Sense of Wonder with its fantastic imagery...

July 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinefantastique
Cinefantastique

A heavy slog.

May 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Never mind how Cavorite works or whether jumping about on the moon (with wires visible) wearing only a diving suit and no gloves is really a good idea.... [It] remains a delightful B-movie charmer ... that's still endearing and entertaining.

April 5, 2006 Full Review Source: DVDJournal.com
DVDJournal.com

One of the most completely satisfying of all sci-fi films.

August 11, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon

Nathan Juran's 1964 First Men in the Moon is a glorious film from yesteryear that I love for so many different reasons. I love Sci-fi and Space movies, I've been an avid reader of H.G. Welles since I was a young boy and throw in what I believe are arguably some of Ray Harryhausen's greatest special effects and everybody's favorite Grandpa Lionel Jeffries, and I'm not sure anyone could resist. The science is nonsense but the idea is sound. The beginning sequence was so brilliantly handled and so professionally done, the 'Floating paint' soon becomes something quite unimportant. Not only is this a rather brilliant foresight into Space travel, it is also a very wise cautionary tale for society in general. No First Men in the Moon, no Star Trek nor Wars. Nor would there have been the John Carter books that also inspired almost everything that has come since. It's a great family adventure film which is pretty much ageless, it's funny, intelligent and thoroughly British. Who else could make something so brilliant, silly and fun?

http://cinephilecrocodile.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/first-men-in-moon-dir-nathan-juran-1964.html
July 25, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

The second H.G. Wells story to feature encounters with alien lifeforms after his most famous sci-fi story 'The War of the Worlds'. Obviously a more fantastical story from Wells and this British made film certainly has that outlandish angle that's for sure. Although it seems this film isn't as surreal or fantastical as the original story surprisingly.

The whole story is narrated by the main character as an old man. It tells the story of how his eccentric inventor neighbour creates a substance that defies or eliminates gravity thus allowing them to fly to the moon in a homemade space sphere. There on the moon they encounter insect-like aliens hungry for knowledge.

Interesting to note that this film was of course made before man actually reached the lunar surface (1969). This of course doesn't mean people in 64 thought there were aliens running around up there but back when the original story was published in 1901 I'm guessing people could of thought it possible. The whole idea that the two main characters in this film use deep sea diving gear on the lunar surface is cute.
Whether or not this was an actual belief of the era or just Well's fantasy I don't know (I'm not even sure if this is accurate with the original source material). I think its fair to say back in the early 1900's the knowledge on resources/materials required for space travel/space crafts in general was probably very limited and underestimated, so what we see in this adaptation could well have been real concepts of the time (maybe not the moon bugs though).

Putting aside the real science plot holes (of which there are tonnes), the film itself is highly enjoyable. This is my first ever viewing of the film and straight away you can see many little sequences which have been homaged by other sci-fi films, mainly 'Mars Attacks'. It seems Mr Burton liked this particular sci-fi film. The big bug idea could also have spawned the likes of 'Starship Troopers', mainly the huge centipede-like insects that roam the lunar surface.

The alien creatures known as 'Selenites' are bug-like in appearance, bipedal and live underground like ants. These guys are mainly men in rather cheap basic looking rubber suits but some of the main aliens are animated by Harryhausen including the wonderful lunar centipedes.

Visually the whole film is very striking offering some lovely matte paintings, sets, models and that typically smart dapper 50/60's sci-fi attire. Even the inside of the space sphere is lined with that diamond shaped leather upholstery effect, I think that concept was started by the 1960 film 'The Time Machine'. The small space flight sequences at the start of the film are a joy to behold, so dated but so good (not too far from reality either), surely everyone can appreciate them.

The only downside to the film for me was the bland characters. 'Bedford' (Edward Judd) has that stereotypical male chauvinism about him but comes across as rather unfriendly and rude in this film. He's always shouting at his fiance 'Kate' who does pretty much nothing accept look pretty and shout back. Then you have the main character of 'Cavor' played quite oddly by Lionel Jeffries. His performance was a strange one as it comes across as though he's improvising, it doesn't feel like he's in character or simply he can't act too well.

At the time this film was made space travel and reaching the moon was not far away, so to go backwards and make a film so 'medieval' must have been hard to sell, despite being an adaptation. This film is pure and utter silly fantasy (no further explanations required for that), its not a film for actors and its not really about the characters either. Its a visual spectacle, an effects film, an early 60's blockbuster if you will. Take all the gigantic scientific plot holes and complete lack of realism as part of the fun (as was intended) and you can't fail not to enjoy.
June 4, 2013
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

a promising start with an eccentric british inventor creating an anti-gravity paste that allows him to travel to the moon in 1899. once there it gets pretty silly. i was disappointed with harryhausen's effects in this one
July 20, 2009
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

    1. Prof. Joseph Cavor: It's absolutely imperial!
    – Submitted by Robert R (15 months ago)
    1. Prof. Joseph Cavor: Geese, I adore. Chickens, I detest! I've a good mind to make you fly home! All of you! AAHHH! I HATE CHICKENS!
    – Submitted by Francis L (22 months ago)
    1. Prof. Joseph Cavor: [Kate thinks a gun is a good thing to have along] Madam, the chances of bagging an elephant on the Moon are remote.
    – Submitted by Francis L (22 months ago)
    1. Prof. Joseph Cavor: Please, shut those blasted doors!
    – Submitted by Alan Torres Dwyer B (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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