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

H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 26, 2002
Sony Pictures Entertainment


as Arnold Bedford

as Prof. Joseph Cavor

as Kate Callender

as Maggie Hay

as Registrar

as Matron

as Dr. Tok

as Richard Challis

as Col. Rice

as Workman

as Commentator

as Announcer

as Announcer
Show More Cast

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

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | June 9, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

The incessant comic relief, clumsy and cumbersome, too often gets in the way of a cracking good tale.

Full Review… | April 4, 2015
Creative Loafing

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

Full Review… | July 26, 2014

A heavy slog.

Full Review… | May 6, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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


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.

Phil Hubbs

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

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

A whole lotta fun. The gigantic sets and special effects courtesy of Dynamation are (save for, like, two shots where the perspective is off and the First Men appear to be walking on the walls of a vertical chamber leading to the center of the Moon) nothing less than spectacular.

H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon Quotes

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