["Conqueror of the Moon"] Mexican film (1960; vt The Astronauts). Producciones Sotomayor. Directed by Rogelio A González. Written by José Maria Fernández Unsáin and Francisco Verala. Starring Antonio "Clavillazo" Espino, Ana Luisa Peluffo, Andrés Soler, Óscar Ortiz de Pinedo, Ramiro Gamboa, Alberto Pedret, Alicia Moreno, Alejandro Reyna. 80 minutes. Black and white.
As a Scientist (Soler) prepares to launch his Spaceship to the Moon, his daughter (Peluffo) calls an eccentric inventor and electrician named Bartolo (Espino) to repair her iron. Wanting to rush the repaired iron to this beautiful woman, Bartolo boards the professor's spaceship, where his daughter is doing some last-minute checking, and when he tries to plug in the iron, he moves a lever and accidentally launches the spaceship. After the ship automatically makes a safe landing on the Moon, Bartolo and the woman explore the lunar surface and discover a strange chamber that functions as an elevator; this takes them to an underground chamber where they discover lunar inhabitants who resemble humanoid fish, ruled by an enormous brain with an eye on a tentacle. These Aliens demonstrate powers of teleportation (> Matter Transmission) and offer the imprisoned humans Food Pills. The brain then interrogates the woman and Bartolo, revealing to the man its sinister plans to attack Earth with a flying saucer (> UFOs) that will cause sea levels to disastrously rise, animals to die, and the entire planet to explode; the brain has also fallen in love with the woman and seeks to forcibly marry her. But Bartolo (who has also been fending off the amorous advances of a female alien) rescues his companion, and they return to their spaceship to lift off for Earth. They are pursued by the brain and the aliens in their flying saucer, and when the eye materializes on board their spaceship, Bartolo resolves to take a spacewalk to somehow attack the flying saucer; when the eye dislodges him from the spaceship to drift away into space, the woman dons a spacesuit to retrieve him. They then use the ship's exhaust to destroy the flying saucer, kill the brain, and eliminate the threat to Earth. Contacting Earth with the happy news, Bartolo and the woman also announce that they have fallen in love.
Fueled by a richly conflicted attitude toward their neighbours to the north, Mexican films of the 1950s and 1960s, to viewers in a certain mood, invite consideration as fascinating efforts to emulate American models in hopes of attracting American viewers while simultaneously offering subtle criticisms of the arrogant, arbitrary nation that inescapably dominates their lives. Thus, one might say of this film that it simply represents the decision of the Mexican actor best known as "Clavillazo" to emulate cinematic comedians in America (Abbott and Costello Go to Mars [1953; vt On to Mars], Have Rocket, Will Travel ), Italy (Totò nella Luna [1959; vt Toto in the Moon]), and Egypt (Rehla ilal Kamar [1959; vt Journey to the Moon]) by taking his comic persona into outer space, employing the familiar device of a spaceship accidentally launched with unqualified personnel on board who then interact with implausible, hostile aliens. Yet it is hard to escape noticing that, in contrast to the Egyptian in Rehla ilal Kamar who flew to the Moon in a German spaceship, the Mexicans in this movie almost defiantly have their very own space programme, which bests other countries by first reaching the Moon, and that the aliens the Mexicans must deal with are both determined to slaughter humans and strangely friendly toward them, even desiring them as mates. While it does rely heavily on footage from Destination Moon (1950) and the Russian Space Documentary Doroga k Zvezdam (1958; vt Road to the Stars), the film is reasonably realistic in depicting weightlessness in the spaceship and the Moon's lower Gravity before the appearance of the aliens steers the film into scientific nonsense. Among other striking features, the film's lunar inhabitants (also described as lizard-like) are not identical to human beings, the usual pattern in such films; there are amusing scenes of panic on Earth when the aliens' plans are announced; and the journey back to Earth features sf film's first woman to walk in space. [GW]
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