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

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Critic Reviews for Countdown

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

The film seems oddly unfocused, and the first hour is given over to barren stretches of flat, everyday dialog.

Jul 6, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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

Sep 13, 2012 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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

Nov 17, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Countdown


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

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