Moon Pilot


1h 38m 1962

Brief Synopsis

An astronaut dodges secret agents and a beautiful spy before his first moon trip.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Apr 1962
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Moon Pilot" by Robert Buckner in The Saturday Evening Post (19 Mar--2 Apr 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

Following a successful trajectory around the moon by Charlie the Chimp, Maj. Gen. John Vanneman decides to orbit one of his top eight astronauts. There are, however, no volunteers until Charlie jabs Rich Talbot with his fork and the young captain leaps to his feet. While on a 3-day leave to visit his mother, Rich meets a mysterious girl with an equally mysterious name, Lyrae, who seems to appear wherever he goes. Believing her to be a spy, he notifies Vanneman, who, in turn, calls McClosky, head of Federal security. Lyrae finally confesses to the astounded Rich that she is from the friendly planet of Beta Lyrae and has been sent to warn him that he will die in outer space unless his rocket has a protective anti--proton ray coating. Certain no one will believe his story, Rich disappears and refuses to return unless his rocket is equipped with Lyrae's anti--proton ray formula. Vanneman agrees, and Rich finally sets out for the moon. He is hardly spaceborne before Lyrae appears in his cabin. And back on earth Vanneman and the space team are stupefied to hear on the space radio that Rich is delaying his moon orbit to spend a honeymoon visit on Beta Lyrae.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Apr 1962
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Moon Pilot" by Robert Buckner in The Saturday Evening Post (19 Mar--2 Apr 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

Moon Pilot


Walt Disney Studios got in on the space race with its delightful science fiction comedy Moon Pilot in 1962. The story begins when hapless astronaut Richmond Talbot (Tom Tryon) is inadvertently chosen to make the first manned flight to orbit the moon following the successful space journey of Charlie the Chimp. Talbot is ordered to keep his mission top secret, but soon he meets Lyrae (Dany Saval), a beautiful but mysterious woman who seems to know everything about it. Talbot suspects she is a spy, but Lyrae is something quite different and has a very special message for him.

Moon Pilot was based on Robert Buckner's 1960 novel Starfire, which was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post. Considered by many to be one of Disney's best and most sophisticated live action films, Moon Pilot takes a satirical look at the space program during the Kennedy era, taking gentle swipes at America's government and military.

Moon Pilot was partly a vehicle for lead actor Tom Tryon, who had previously made his mark with Disney playing Texas John Slaughter on the Walt Disney Presents television show between 1958 and 1961. Although Tryon never reached stardom as an actor, he ultimately quit show business to become a successful horror and mystery novelist (The Other, Harvest Home, Night Magic).

The lovely French actress Dany Saval is also featured in Moon Pilot in one of her few American film roles. Character actors Brian Keith and Edmond O'Brien lend comic support as a blustery general and FBI agent, respectively. Disney veteran Tommy Kirk (Old Yeller [1957], The Shaggy Dog [1959]) also appears in a small role as Tryon's younger brother Walter.

Moon Pilot was a modest success upon its release in 1962 and received generally positive reviews. "Sacred cows, if skillfully milked," said Time magazine, "produce tons of fun; but Hollywood usually avoids them because they often kick back. The more reason to be pleasantly surprised that Walt Disney, not specifically known for socio-political daring, should have herded three of these pampered critters-the FBI, the Air Force and the astronaut program-into the same plot. Under the deft manipulation of Director James Neilson and Scenarist Maurice Tombragel, they produce a fairly steady stream of healthy nonsense." The New York Times said, "Of all people, Mr. Disney is making good-natured fun of the high-minded scientific project of firing a man around the moon...Mr. O'Brien rants and mugs something awful. So does Brian Keith. And Mr. Tryon does a lot of mugging too. But Charlie is natural and amusing (isn't every chimpanzee?) and the rocket stuff is fascinating. This should be a fun film for the kids." Variety said, "It's a healthy country that can take time out to laugh at its most sacred troublesome issues, and a healthy industry that supplies the tonic to ease such excess anxiety."

Moon Pilot also marked the first of several films that James Neilson (Summer Magic [1963], The Moon-Spinners [1964]) directed for Disney. Academy Award-winning songwriting team the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins [1964], Chitty Chitty Bang Bang [1968]) contributed three songs to Moon Pilot: "Seven Moons of Beta Lyrae," "True Love's an Apricot" and "The Void."

Producer: Walt Disney (uncredited)
Director: James Neilson
Screenplay: Maurice Tombragel; Robert Buckner (novel "Starfire")
Cinematography: William E. Snyder
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Marvin Aubrey Davis
Music: Paul J. Smith
Film Editing: Cotton Warburton
Cast: Tom Tryon (Capt. Richmond Talbot), Brian Keith (Maj. Gen. John M. Vanneman), Edmond O'Brien (McClosky), Dany Saval (Lyrae), Bob Sweeney (Sen. Henry McGuire), Kent Smith (Secretary of the Air Force), Tommy Kirk (Walter Talbot), Simon Scott (Medical Officer), Bert Remsen (Agent Brown), Sarah Selby (Mrs. Celia Talbot), Dick Whittinghill (Col. Briggs).
C-98m.

by Andrea Passafiume
Moon Pilot

Moon Pilot

Walt Disney Studios got in on the space race with its delightful science fiction comedy Moon Pilot in 1962. The story begins when hapless astronaut Richmond Talbot (Tom Tryon) is inadvertently chosen to make the first manned flight to orbit the moon following the successful space journey of Charlie the Chimp. Talbot is ordered to keep his mission top secret, but soon he meets Lyrae (Dany Saval), a beautiful but mysterious woman who seems to know everything about it. Talbot suspects she is a spy, but Lyrae is something quite different and has a very special message for him. Moon Pilot was based on Robert Buckner's 1960 novel Starfire, which was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post. Considered by many to be one of Disney's best and most sophisticated live action films, Moon Pilot takes a satirical look at the space program during the Kennedy era, taking gentle swipes at America's government and military. Moon Pilot was partly a vehicle for lead actor Tom Tryon, who had previously made his mark with Disney playing Texas John Slaughter on the Walt Disney Presents television show between 1958 and 1961. Although Tryon never reached stardom as an actor, he ultimately quit show business to become a successful horror and mystery novelist (The Other, Harvest Home, Night Magic). The lovely French actress Dany Saval is also featured in Moon Pilot in one of her few American film roles. Character actors Brian Keith and Edmond O'Brien lend comic support as a blustery general and FBI agent, respectively. Disney veteran Tommy Kirk (Old Yeller [1957], The Shaggy Dog [1959]) also appears in a small role as Tryon's younger brother Walter. Moon Pilot was a modest success upon its release in 1962 and received generally positive reviews. "Sacred cows, if skillfully milked," said Time magazine, "produce tons of fun; but Hollywood usually avoids them because they often kick back. The more reason to be pleasantly surprised that Walt Disney, not specifically known for socio-political daring, should have herded three of these pampered critters-the FBI, the Air Force and the astronaut program-into the same plot. Under the deft manipulation of Director James Neilson and Scenarist Maurice Tombragel, they produce a fairly steady stream of healthy nonsense." The New York Times said, "Of all people, Mr. Disney is making good-natured fun of the high-minded scientific project of firing a man around the moon...Mr. O'Brien rants and mugs something awful. So does Brian Keith. And Mr. Tryon does a lot of mugging too. But Charlie is natural and amusing (isn't every chimpanzee?) and the rocket stuff is fascinating. This should be a fun film for the kids." Variety said, "It's a healthy country that can take time out to laugh at its most sacred troublesome issues, and a healthy industry that supplies the tonic to ease such excess anxiety." Moon Pilot also marked the first of several films that James Neilson (Summer Magic [1963], The Moon-Spinners [1964]) directed for Disney. Academy Award-winning songwriting team the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins [1964], Chitty Chitty Bang Bang [1968]) contributed three songs to Moon Pilot: "Seven Moons of Beta Lyrae," "True Love's an Apricot" and "The Void." Producer: Walt Disney (uncredited) Director: James Neilson Screenplay: Maurice Tombragel; Robert Buckner (novel "Starfire") Cinematography: William E. Snyder Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Marvin Aubrey Davis Music: Paul J. Smith Film Editing: Cotton Warburton Cast: Tom Tryon (Capt. Richmond Talbot), Brian Keith (Maj. Gen. John M. Vanneman), Edmond O'Brien (McClosky), Dany Saval (Lyrae), Bob Sweeney (Sen. Henry McGuire), Kent Smith (Secretary of the Air Force), Tommy Kirk (Walter Talbot), Simon Scott (Medical Officer), Bert Remsen (Agent Brown), Sarah Selby (Mrs. Celia Talbot), Dick Whittinghill (Col. Briggs). C-98m. by Andrea Passafiume

Quotes

I don't have a real steady girlfriend, anyways.
- Captain Richmond Talbot
You don't have an unsteady one either, understand?
- Major General John M. Vanneman
You think I'd betray my country?
- Captain Richmond Talbot
Benedict Arnold did.
- McClosky
I know mothers. I had one.
- Senator Henry McGuire
If it ever got out that we shot this fine American boy around the moon without letting him say goodbye to his mom, oh.
- Senator Henry McGuire

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1962

Released in United States 1962