UK / 1961
Director: Basil Dearden
Writers: Michael Relph, Bryan Forbes
Cast: Kenneth More, Michael Hordern, John Phillips, Shirley Anne Field, John Glyn-Jones, Charles Gray, Norman Bird, Noel Purcell
“This topical skit on moon flight opens in romantic comedy vein with the hero immune even to the charms of a striptease girl feeling from worse than death,” reported CEA Film Report of this engaging and witty satire.
The hero in question, played with his usual charm and vitality by Kenneth More, earns his living as a human guinea-pig for medical research and claims his apparent immunity and tranquillity are a result of his having happily avoided matrimony.
Scientist Michael Hordern seizes on More as the perfect subject to be the first British astronaut. More, unaware of why he is being intensively trained, arouses the jealousy of Charles Gray, leader of the trainee astronauts – so the scientists simply brainwash Gray into liking More. When More eventually finds out what is happening, he refuses to go along with the scheme to send him into space until Billy Butlin offers a considerable cash prize for the first man to land on the moon. More is launched into space from Australia – but, while he believes he has landed on the moon, he is simply in the Australian Outback …
Veteran director Basil Dearden (The Blue Lamp, The Ship That Died of Shame, Who Done It?, The Smallest Show on Earth) handled the highly enjoyable mixture of satire on science, scientist and space travel and broader comedy with infectious assurance, much helped by More’s delightful central performance. “The entertainment owes much to the endearing personality of Kenneth More, an admirable choice for the role of an optimist bound for the moon.”
There was excellent backup from the first-rate supporting cast which, along with Hordern and Gray, features a prime roster of able British character stars, including John Phillips, John Glyn-Jones, Norman Bird and Danny Green, and Irishman Noel Purcell and, wrote CEA Film Report, Man in the Moon was “diverting entertainment which should please the legion of star fans.”