For The Day the Sky Exploded (1961; La Morte Vienne Dallo Spazio, 1958) I greatly liked the gloomy dark sharp focus b/w cinematography & the elegantly designed, surprisingly convincing atomic moon rocket.
As actually happened in 1969 when the whole world watched a moon-landing on television, so too in this film the world watches as events unfold in space. That element was a little surprising, because after the first moon landing editorialists were saying the one thing science fiction writers didn't predict was that everyone could watch it on tv.
Mary (Fiorella Mari), the wife of American pilot John MacLaren (Paul Hubschmid), waits in terror upon the earth with their son Dennis (Massimo Zeppieri). I assume (or wonder if) in other dubs for distribution in other countries, the nationality of the pilot changes.
It was intended as a six-day voyage to space, in the first rocket ever to circle the moon. The attractive model animation for the ship is lovely for take-off & flight, & the nostalgia level is off the scale on what amounts to yesteryears' vision of tomorrow.
Katy Dandridge (Madeleine Fischer) is a studious mathematician & science-babe who works constantly, does not socialize, & overhears a gamblers' bet that she can be seduced within the same six days of the space mission. Her tale provides a moderate soap opera interest between declarations of worldwide doom.
Alas the mission goes awry on the first day & John releases his cabin from the ship to descend to earth. MacLaren returns safely, but the main part of the atomic ship shot off toward the asteroid belt causing a domino effect of danger.
Worldwide, animals migrate away from coastal regions en masse. Even domestic stock & pets are agitated. Rocket RX exploded against an asteroid triggering unknown weird phenomena to which animals are sensitive, & inducing news caster soon warn, "The mysterious peril would appear to be very near."
A huge asteroid is hurtling toward Earth & will strike in five days. All coastal regions are evacuated in all nations, with the expectation of tsunamis of unimaginable destructive power. Some interesting stock footage shows the march of refugees, probably from WWII newsreels, so rather harrowing.
A gobbledegook plan to save the earth is pulled out of the ether, involving the use of magnetic attraction to disintegrate the asteroid. But the math doesn't promise success, as some degree of coastal catastrope seems inevitable due to gravitational forces followed by asteroid particles that'll rain down sufficient to destroy the world.
Russia with 2,000 atom bombs & America with only 1,000 atom bombs plan to launch their superbombs simultaneously to vaporate some of those thousands of asteroids before they strike the earth.
Although death & destruction occurs everywhere, the damage is not absolute, for the same atomic power that nearly destroyed the world by mutual assured destruction has happily saved it, or a big enough section to rebuild.
The Day the Sky Exploded is plodding but drums up a bit of suspense & believability, just so long as you don't ask how 3,000 a-bombs happened to be on warhead rockets capable of reaching outer space on a moment's notice. It's fun to imagine reviving films like this at drive-in movies with only the vintage auto clubs invited.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl