Film (1969). Columbia. Directed by John Sturges. Written by Mayo Simon, based on Marooned (1964) by Martin Caidin. Cast includes Richard Crenna, James Franciscus, Gene Hackman, David Janssen and Gregory Peck. 134 minutes. Colour.
John Sturges is best known for Westerns (e.g., The Magnificent Seven ), though he also directed the borderline sf film The Satan Bug (1965); outer space may be a less suitable setting for his work. The film is a quasidocumentary (see Space Documentaries) about the rescue, by a Soviet/US team, of three astronauts trapped in orbit around the Earth. Opinions are divided on whether the slowly built suspense is potent or monotonous; the dialogue is even more banal than real NASA chat. The special effects are low-key and accurate, but not visually memorable; the most impressive sequence in the film is the one containing shots of a genuine Saturn rocket-launch. The film suffered through being released at much the same time as 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, the friendly treatment given to Russian cosmonauts in Marooned played a part in bringing about the Apollo-Soyuz space rendezvous of 1975. [JB/PN]
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