The Rocket Man


1h 19m 1954

Brief Synopsis

Wacky complications ensue when a little boy comes into possession of a ray gun that compels anyone caught in its beam to tell the truth. He uses it to prevent his orphanage from being shut down by creditors and to help a cute couple fall in love.

Film Details

Also Known As
Justice, Justice Brown, The Kid from Outer Space
Release Date
Apr 1954
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,262ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Seven-year-old Timmy is thrilled when characters from his favorite television show, Captain Talray and His Outer Spacers , make an appearance at the county orphanage in which he lives, but afterward, is disappointed to find that the bigger boys have received all of the toy ray guns. An administrator offers Timmy airplanes instead, and while the boy is refusing, a real spaceman suddenly appears and, unseen, places a ray gun in the toy box. Timmy is thrilled with his present and soon after, is playing space rangers with his two best friends. Tragedy almost strikes when a drunken driver races down the road and comes within several feet of one of the boys, but a shot from Timmy's ray gun brings the car to a halt. Motorcycle police officer Mike O'Brien, who witnesses the event, believes that the accident was averted due to a sudden locking of the car's brakes, and arrests the man. The belligerent drunk yells at Mike that he is Big Bill Watkins, an important political boss, and will get him fired, but the pragmatic Mike ignores him. Meanwhile, Timmy returns to the orphanage, where Amelia Brown, the town's justice of the peace, offers to take him home with her for a while, as she has done with several orphans. Timmy, who has never had a real home, is wary of the widowed Amelia and her grown daughter June, but Amelia's ability to join in Timmy's imaginative games persuades him to accompany her. After they arrive home, Mike brings Watkins over for sentencing, and the no-nonsense Amelia refuses to listen to Watkin's blustering and sentences him to ten days in jail. Amelia and June then dine with Ed Johnson, the town mayor and Amelia's longtime beau, and Amelia receives a telegram from Warden Marshman, who is sending an unnamed, young parolee to stay with her. Ed is worried about Amelia having a "criminal" living in her house, but the fair-minded Amelia, who has helped a number of parolees, always believes in giving second chances. After dinner, Ed visits Watkins, whose political machine helped to elect him, and states that he cannot get Amelia to change his sentence. Watkins then calls his lawyer, Oliver Peabody, and tells him that he got arrested before being able to conclude the deal that they were working on. The following day, June goes to the bus stop to greet the arriving parolee and mistakes lawyer Tom Baxter for the ex-convict. Tom, who has been sent to aid Watkins, is taken with the pretty June and does not correct her mistake. Meanwhile, at home, Timmy continues to be amazed by Amelia's gentle treatment of him. June then arrives with Tom, whom Amelia warmly welcomes. The real parolee, Bob, also arrives with his girl friend Ludine, and is surprised when Amelia immediately grants their request to be married, then shooes them off on their honeymoon. That night, after dinner, Tom and June fall in love as they sit on the porch and discuss their future. Later in the evening, however, Amelia is visited by orphanage worker Harriet Snedley, who reveals that Watkins has put in a bid to buy the orphanage, as its lease with the county has just expired. Amelia is horrified, for the orphanage's closure will mean that the boys will have to go to the capital city's overcrowded facility, and an eavesdropping Timmy prays that she will be able to raise the four thousand dollars needed to outbid Watkins. When Timmy falls asleep, the spaceman appears in his room, and in his dreams, tells him that the ray gun can change lies to the truth and must always be used for good. The following morning, Tom reveals his real identity to Ed and admits that he placed the orphanage bid for Watkins, but now feels guilty because of how much he admires Amelia and June. Ed assures Tom that Amelia will forgive him if he tells the truth, but June refuses to listen to Tom's assurances that his affection for her is real. Tom leaves, intending to drive to the state capital, while Timmy sets up a "space monster" exhibit, consisting of household pets, to help Amelia raise money. Touched, Amelia takes him with her as she visits various bankers, but she is able to raise only $2,500. At the state capital, Tom lambasts the now-freed Watkins for his actions, and Watkins laughingly replies that after the following day's election, he will control the county. Tom quits and returns to June, who happily greets him upon hearing that he has reformed. Meanwhile, Amelia talks Ed into handing over his savings of $284, but after he and Timmy collect the money, Ed plays poker with his pals. With the help of Timmy's ray gun, Ed wins big and is able to give Amelia the rest of the money she needs. Amelia calls Harriet to tell her the good news, but Harriet, who is secretly in league with Watkins, warns him, and he arranges for the deed office not to accept her bid, citing an ancient ordinance prohibiting the sale of public land the day before an election. At that night's election rally, Amelia and her friends attend, determined to speak out against Watkins, who urges the audience to vote for his candidates. Ed attempts to make a speech about Amelia's honesty, in contrast to Watkins' corruption, but is booed by Watkins' planted hecklers. As Watkins states that he is buying the orphanage as a gift to the county, Timmy shoots him with his ray gun, and Watkins is compelled to admit that he is a lying, boozing scoundrel who is buying the orphanage because the land underneath contains a huge oil deposit. Later, after Watkins has been defeated, Amelia has placed Bob and Ludine in charge of the orphanage, and a happy Tom and June go with her and Ed to collect Timmy, who is playing with his friends. The oil well in front of the building has reaped large profits for the establishment, and as the adults admire their handiwork, Timmy enjoys eating green cheese sandwiches from the moon with his extraterrestrial friend.

Film Details

Also Known As
Justice, Justice Brown, The Kid from Outer Space
Release Date
Apr 1954
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,262ft (8 reels)

Articles

TCM Remembers - John Agar


TCM REMEMBERS JOHN AGAR, 1921-2002

Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph.

Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract.

Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed.

By Lang Thompson

DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002

Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall.

Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.)

Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win.

However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made.

By Lang Thompson

Tcm Remembers - John Agar

TCM Remembers - John Agar

TCM REMEMBERS JOHN AGAR, 1921-2002 Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph. Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract. Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed. By Lang Thompson DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002 Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall. Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.) Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win. However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Justice, Justice Brown and The Kid from Outer Space. Brief snippets of the songs "Sweet Genevieve" and "Beautiful Dreamer" are heard in the film. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Thelma Ritter was originally cast as "Amelia Brown." A February 1953 Daily Variety news item reported that the film, which was to be produced by Twentieth Century-Fox, was to be the "tee off of a series" starring Ritter. The property was taken over by Leonard Goldstein's Panoramic Productions, and October 1953 Hollywood Reporter news items announced that after Ritter "bowed out" of the production, Marjorie Main was considered to replace her, and that Jeffrey Hunter and Gloria Gordon had been added to the cast.
       Due to production delays caused by the casting of the lead role, Panoramic was forced to shoot "one day of inserts" on November 14, 1953 in order to "insure [child actor George] Winslow's services" to the studio for the picture. Winslow was under contract to Fox at the time of production. According to a November 3, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, comic Lenny Bruce was specifically hired "to strengthen comic sequences" in the film's screenplay. A modern source states that the costume worn by the uncredited spaceman in the film was the same as that worn by the extraterrestrial character "Klaatu" in Fox's 1951 picture The Day the Earth Stood Still.