Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Sam Waterston, O. J. Simpson, James Brolin
CAPRICORN ONE (1978). Director: Peter Hyams.

Astronauts Brubaker (James Brolin), Willis (Sam Waterston) and Walker (O. J. Simpson) are about to go off on a flight to Mars when they are told by Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) that the mission is scrubbed because of a faulty life support system. Kelloway is afraid the space program will lose its funding. so he and his associates decide to film the astronauts on a sound stage and make the world believe they have actually landed on Mars. Brubaker and the others are appalled by what they've participated in, but they really get worried when it is announced that the three "died" during re-entry. Then the chase is on ... Capricorn One has an utterly absurd premise (inspired by the notion that the Moon landing was staged), but it holds the attention and has a terrific, suspenseful climax where a suspicious reporter (Elliot Gould) tries to save Brubaker, and an old-fashioned bi-plane is engaged in a dogfight with two sinister helicopters. As for the acting, Holbrook walks off with the movie, particularly in a long monologue when he tells the three men what's happened and the reason for the hoax they're about to perpetrate. The three lead actors are okay but give perfunctory performances (considering what has happened to them), even Waterston, although he has some good moments out in the desert. Brenda Vaccaro as Brubaker's wife plays the role of "widow" a little too jovially. The script lacks depth but that may be because no one had any real faith in the premise.

Verdict: If you ignore the sheer preposterousness of the premise, the movie is fun. ***.


angelman66 said...

Have been looking for this one for years...I remember liking it a lot as a kid. Where is it available to view? It's never on television...

William said...

I borrowed the DVD from the New York public library, as I'm too cheap to spend money on something that might be a stinker. You can watch it on Amazon Instant Video for $2.99. Even used DVDs for the flick are much more expensive than that. $2.99 sounds about right to me, ha.