Robert A Heinlein
Everyone has an off
day. One or two of Shakespeare's plays were clunkers, a couple
of Mozart's tunes fell flat, Escoffier had some of his dishes
returned, and Byron had a rhymes he was ashamed of. So it was
with science fiction grandmaster Robert A Heinlein. The man who
defined science fiction for a generation, set the standard with his
juvenile novels, overturned that standard with his adult novels, and
helped spark the 1950s sci fi film craze with his screenplay for
Destination Moon also had a stinker or two that refused to stay
buried in obscurity. The most notorious of these was Heinlein's
early '50s attempt to break into television with his series Ring
Around the Moon. The series never sold, which was bad
enough, but the producers decided to salvage what they could, so
without Heinlein's permission they padded out the low-budget pilot
pilot that had been shot in ten days to 63 minutes and released it in
the cinemas as
Project Moonbase. Then they turned around and used the sets to
Cat-Women of the Moon, which was released within days of
Of course, Heinlein disowned it.
The advertising copy read, "Up, up, up! To a new
world of Adventure". Up is also what happened to your lunch.
No, that's a cheap shot. Project Moonbase wasn't a great
film. It wasn't even a good one. By cinematic standards,
it was the last turkey in the shop, but for all it's faults it is
watchable, if you keep in mind that it was aimed at a very young
audience and if you consume a hell of a lot of alcohol before you hit
the play button. The year is 1970 and the Cold War is apparently
still running hot. Or cold. Or lukewarm. It was a
rotten name for a war anyway, so let's just forget about it, okay?
Where was I? Right. The United States put the first manned
rocket into orbit four years previous and now has a fully operational
space station complete with an arsenal of H-bombs to help keep the
peace. Unfortunately, whoever gets to the Moon first will have a
far greater strategic advantage, so the race is on.
Or would be if the plot didn't
bog down ten minutes into the story.
Let's meet our suspects... I mean, cast.
Colonel Briteis (AKA "Bright Eyes") is the other
idea. Because she only weighed 90 lbs to Major Moore's 160, then
Captain Briteis bumped Moore to pilot the first manned rocket.
The result was a heroine's welcome for Breiteis, a promotion to
colonel, and a swelled head while Moore got a double helping of
humiliation. Now the President wants to rub salt in the wound by
giving her command of the Moon mission at literally the last minute.
This does not make someone happy.
General 'Pappy' Greene
is the someone.
Dear God, it's a Heinlein "Old Man"
complete with cracker barrel philosophy. Like all the Old Men,
he is utterly convinced of the rightness of his thinking because he
thought it and has a self-consciously breezy, folksy way of talking
that he believes makes him sound tough, sagacious, and worldly, but no
one has the heart to tell him that it just makes him come across as a
boring old windbag.
He owns five cats and they all hate him.