Man In The Moon DVD

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 05:03

William Blood (Kenneth More) is known as ‘Mr Normal’, although in reality he is a rather strange man. He has an inability to worry, and an inability to become ill, enabling him to make his living as a human guinea pig. “Man in the Moon” begins with him on one unusual assignment, working for the Common Cold Research Centre – part of the Ministry of Health. We find him sleeping in a field, on an ornate bed with side table, as if transported directly from his home. On waking, he sees a beautiful woman in a fine evening dress running across the field in the direction of the railway station. Despite catching his eye, William is also immune to women… or so he believes.

When William reports his results from his time ‘in the field’, he is ‘let go’ for failing to contract a cold – an act of subversion if ever there was one. He sets off to take up a job with the Seasick College for the summer, a post where he will be appreciated like he had been at “Tropical Diseases” and “Frostbite and Exposure”.

Man In The Moon DVDHis journey is complicated when he bumps into the young woman, Polly (Shirley Anne Field), once again. However, a team of NARSTI (National Atomic Research Studies and Technological Institute) scientists have an extraordinary mission planned for William: rather than risk the lives of highly trained astronauts who have cost millions to prepare, they want to send him to the moon as their ‘Pathfinder’. Indeed, they can’t have any more public outcries caused by sending Dogs or Monkeys into space! But has William finally succumbed to the disease that is incurable – love?

From 1960, this movie is something of a surprise – it’s a madcap science fiction comedy directed by Basil Dearden, who cut his teeth on “The Blue Lamp”, before going on to direct such classics as “The Assassination Bureau”, “The Man Who Haunted Himself” and several episodes of The Persuaders!

Charles Gray as Leo warms up his ‘bad guy’ image as the most jealous of the three highly-trained astronauts – something that will reach fruition as Blofeld in “Diamonds are Forever” a decade later. Leo’s resentment sees him trying to kill William a couple of times during his training, before the boffins decide the only way to handle Leo is to brainwash him.  So, it’s over to the ‘isolation tank’ for Leo, in scenes that could well have inspired JJ Abrams’ Fringe.

Leo is now convinced that he is William’s best friend, but for the first few hours is highly open to suggestion – a hilarious session in front of the TV sees Leo convinced to buy anything and everything that the adverts tell him to – these ‘mini films’ even encourage him to want to go and buy ‘Waggo’ pet food when he doesn’t have a dog!

This is at times a very surreal movie, and key to this is the fact that William is not phased by anything going on around him.  He treats everything with a breezy acceptance, no matter how outlandish.  The only exception to this is when the time comes, down in Australia, to actually be launched into space, and it is at this point that the full enormity of the task at hand finally hits home.

The script is courtesy of the multi-award winning Bryan Forbes (“Whistle Down the Wind”) and Oscar-nominee Michael Relph (“An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”). The message seems to be that whilst scientists can deal with the nuts and bolts of projects, the human angle to things gives them a real problem.  Just because we can does not necessarily mean that we should.  Early in the film, William makes the observation that he doesn’t get ill because he doesn’t want to be ill – the essence of mind over matter. It’s an attitude that the establishment is shown to hate with gusto.

All in all, this is a film well worth checking out, and has delightful performances running right through it.  It’s just so ‘British’!

Special Features on this DVD release include three image galleries, including behind the scenes and publicity shots, and a PDF of the original press book.

The running time is 95 mins approx for this single DVD release, with a RRP of £9.99 (or less from www.cultvstore.com ).

 

 

Cast list

Kenneth More as William Blood

Shirley Anne Field as Polly

Norman Bird as Herbert

Michael Hordern as Dr Davidson

Charles Gray as Leo

Bernard Horsfall as Rex

Bruce Boa as Roy

John Glyn-Jones as Dr Wilmot

John Phillips as Prof Stephens

Ed Devereaux as The Storekeeper

Noel Purcell as The Prospector

Newton Blick as Dr Hollis

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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