Countdown (1968)





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Improvisational director Robert Altman hadn't yet found his cinematic "voice" when he helmed the conformist, stick-to-the-script Countdown. James Caan is top-billed as a scientist who is chosen over astronaut Robert Duvall for the upcoming NASA moon shot. In their haste to beat the Russians to the moon, the NASA folks have tried to sidestep several safety measures, but doctor Charles Aidman sees to it that every possible precaution is taken. When Caan makes it to the lunar surface, he stumbles upon gruesome evidence that the Russians had sent up a secret expedition themselves--and had fatally ignored all those extra security precautions which he's been subject to. Ted Knight, who received some of his best pre-Mary Tyler Moore roles in Altman's TV work, co-stars in Countdown. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Documentary , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
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James Caan
as Lee Stegler
Joanna Cook Moore
as Mickey Stegler
Steve Ihnat
as Ross Duellan
Ted Knight
as Larson
Stephen Colt
as Ehrman
Steve Coit
as Ehrman
Bobby Riha
as Stevie
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Critic Reviews for Countdown

All Critics (4)

An involving sci-fi thriller concerned with the space race to the moon by rival superpowers, Russia and USA.

Full Review… | September 12, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Blocky men test themselves in perilous missions, but modernist tension cracks the mold of classicism

Full Review… | November 17, 2009

Quote not available.

July 4, 2005

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April 16, 2004
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Audience Reviews for Countdown


this doesn't hold up well today it seems dated.but it is robert altman's directorial debut hints at good things to come.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

it may seem kinda silly now but the space race was a huge deal in the '60's when it seemed imperative that the u.s. reach the moon before the russians. this is a good tense character-driven drama of two buddies competing to be the single astronaut who will make the trip. james caan and robert duvall were both near the beginning of their long careers; this was the first of many onscreen pairings and they remain good friends. the film is also notable as being robert altman's first feature as a director-for-hire after much work in tv and documentary films. the producers weren't exactly pleased with his more radical ideas and he either quit or was fired before the final cut. it's a bit corny at times, special effects are weak and the ending is predictable but this was a solid debut. and two years later he made MASH and received his first oscar nomination so it's all good

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


A fun early film from Altman. It's cool to see all the space stuff in retrospect, and there are great performances from Caan and Duvall to boot.

Matt Kendrick
Matt Kendrick

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