THE LOST MISSILE

THE LOST MISSILE (1958)

Running Time: 70 mins.                      Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: William Berke

Genre: Sci-Fi

Country: USA

Language: English

Distributor: United Artists

Cast: Robert Loggia, Ellen Parker, Phillip Pine, Larry Kerr, Marilee Earle, Fred Engelberg

Its like the newspaper the gift came wrapped in was more valuable than the gift.

Really it’s a dreadful cheat of a film. Its 70-minute running time is very well padded with stock footage. The rest are non descript exteriors and drab interiors scenes. The plot exposition is very poorly rendered. They are all just perfunctory scenes sort of strung together. There is no attempt at drama in scene selection but rather drama is communicated by the intensity of the actors. Please don’t ask.

The plot concerns a rocket radiating a million degree heat orbiting earth five miles up threatening to destroy the Earth. It’s a real time menace that must be diverted if a custom built H-bomb can be fashioned and placed in an experimental rocket within an hour. Nothing very much here to report except for a mad speech by a scientist against the project because there might be some sort of life aboard and think of the scientific possibilities but this speech made by the obligatory idiot liberal was pretty much passé by then.

What saves this film, somewhat uniquely, IS the stock footage. I’ve never seen a larger selection of Fifties jet fighter aircraft in any other film. This is by no means a complete list but just some of the aircraft I managed to see. There’s a brief interception by a pilot flying, in alternate shots, an F-89 Scorpion and an F-86. First to scramble interceptors is the Royal Canadian Air Force in Hawker Hunters and F-86 Sabre Jets (or Canadian built CF-13s) and even a pair of CF-100 Clunks.

Then for some reason there are B-52s, B-47s and even B36s are seen taking off. More padding.

“These Canadian jets are moving at 1,200 miles an hour”. I don’t think so since one of them appears to be a WW2 era Gloster Meteor, the rest F-80s. The Meteors press the attack and one turns into a late F-84F with a flight of early straight wing F-84s attacking in formation.

There’s a strange tandem cockpit version of the F-80 that doesn’t seem to be the T-33 training type but some sort of interim all-weather interceptor variant with radar in the nose. These are scrambled in a snowstorm.

An angled deck aircraft carrier is seen from about 500 meters. It launches F-8U Crusaders, F-11F Tigers, A-5 Vigilantes and A-3 Skywarriors. The Air Force scrambles F-86s and F-84s and more F-89s then you’ve ever seen in your life as well as F-100 Super Sabres and F-102 Delta Daggers.

The F-100s press their attack with sooooo much padding. The F-89’s unload their rockets in their wingtip pods in slo mo. The F-86s fire, an F-102 lets loose a Falcon, even some F-80s (F-94s?) with mid-wing rocket pods let loose. There is a very strange shot of a late model F-84 (prototype?) with a straight wing early model F-85 above it in a turn, obviously a manufacturer’s (Republic Aviation) advertising film showing the differences between the old and the new improved models of the F-84 ThunderJet. How it strayed into here is anybody’s guess.

There is other great stock footage of Ottawa in the old days when the capital of Canada was a wide spot in the road and especially wonderful footage of New York City’s Times Square during one of the Civil Defense Drills in the early ‘50s.

I think we also have to deal with the notion that this was filmed in Canada with the possible exception of the auto chase seen late in the picture as the Pacific seems to be in the background. The use of a Jowett Jupiter is somewhat mind-boggling and there is a nice TR 3 to be seen also. Canada must have been cheap and it is rather gratuitously used a lot in the background.

As far as the actual narrative of the film there is little to recommend it other than the mystery of just who Ellen Parker is giving the finger to at the end of the picture. And she most definitely is flipping someone off. Could it be, R as in Robert Loggia? The director who dies before this film was released? Her career as this was her last credit?

Its like the newspaper the gift came wrapped in was more valuable than the gift.

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