Film (1958). William Berke Productions, Inc/United Artists. Produced by William A Berke and Leo Gordon. Directed by Lester William Berke. Written by Jerome Bixby, and John McPartland from an original story by Lester William Berke. Special effects by Jack Glass. Cast includes Robert Loggia, Ellen Parker and Phillip Pine. Narrator: Lawrence Dobkin. 70 minutes. Black and white.
An unidentified missile or missile-like object is detected in near-Earth orbit, with strongly implications of Extraterrestrial origin. An unnamed foreign nation, clearly intended to be some part of the Soviet Union, tries to shoot down this unknown missile. Instead it falls into a path only a few miles above Earth's surface, incinerating everything it passes over with the million-degree heat of its exhaust. Unsuccessful attempts are made by both American and Royal Canadian Air Force jets to bring the object down, but the aircraft are destroyed in the attempt. US Scientist Dr David Loring (Loggia) and his assistant Joan Woods (Parker), to whom he is to be married, are working on a new hydrogen bomb to be carried by the US Jove rocket. Loring is so engrossed with this project that he neglects their engagement to the point where Joan breaks it off. The unknown vehicle is quickly approaching on a path which will take it over both Ottawa, Canada, and New York City unless it can be stopped. Realizing the plutonium core for the new hydrogen bomb can destroy the intruder, Loring and Joan set out for the Jove rocket launch site after a brief confrontation with Dr Freed (Pine). Freed believes the vehicle may carry Alien occupants, and that every effort should be made to land it intact. Meanwhile Ottawa is destroyed as Loring and Joan race for the launch site. They are attacked by a group of teenage thugs who steal the container with the plutonium core inside; the thieves are soon found dead, killed by radiation after opening the special container. Realizing he now has no choice, Loring takes the core to the Jove rocket and rigs it before dying himself. The rocket is fired, and the alien missile is destroyed over Lake Champlain.
The Lost Missile has strong Cold War propaganda overtones, promoting as it does the need for scientists' involvement in national defence and the importance of a strong nuclear missile programme. The possibility that the unknown missile may be a Starship lends an unusual slant to the film; this question remains unanswered at the end. Presumably if there were a crew aboard they had either died in transit or were in some form of Suspended Animation from which they failed to awaken. [GSt]
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