Project Moon Base (1953)

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Released 12-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer-Project Moonbase
Trailer-Coming Attractions
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 62:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Richard Talmadge
Studio
Distributor
Galaxy Pictures
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Hayden Rorke
Ross Ford
Donna Martell
Larry Johns
Herb Jacob
Barbara Morrison
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music William Randall
Joel Moss


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, the era required it in order to be cool.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    When I first heard the news that a group of old classics were being put together as The Retro Sci-Fi Collection, I was ecstatic. I was starting to think that we would never see these gems on our favourite shiny platform, and that I might actually have to dust off the old VCR to play them.

    Project Moon Base is the first from the collection that I have had the pleasure to review, with Flight To Mars soon to follow. In fact, the hardest decision was - which one should I review first? In the end, I opted for the one in black and white.

    The movie was filmed in 1953 and the storyline is based in the then-future of the 70s. Some background to the plot is that in 1948, the Secretary of Defence proposed that a Space Station be built by the USA. By 1954, the advent of atomic bombs and intercontinental rockets made this a necessity.

    In 1970, Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell) and her co-pilot Major Moore (Ross Ford) were sent by rocket ship to orbit the moon. Their mission was to find a proposed landing area for the future moon base. On board the rocket is a Russian spy, and the agent's sole purpose is to destroy the rocket ship. Unfortunately, things don't go according to plan and a fight on board with the spy sends the rocket off course on a heading that will have them crashing on the moon. Will Briteis and Moore work out a solution in time and advert disaster? Best you watch the movie to find out.

    For its day, the story had some projections that are even far-fetched in today's society, and yet others are eerily a part of our everyday lives. For example, telephones all had a loop antenna, and we now use wireless phones in our own homes today. Also, not only was the pilot of the spaceship Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell) a female but so too was the President of the United States. I can only imagine how such a scene was perceived by the public in its day.

    There were a lot of unknowns about space travel back then. Frequently, the rocket and crew are subjected to G forces in excess of 15Gs, which would be fatal, especially since their only form of protection was a cloth cap that they wore whilst in space. To overcome these G forces, the rocket was fitted with special beds with springs attached to counteract the force and protect the crew.

    But seriously, you don't watch these movies to pick them to bits. They are there for our enjoyment and to get a taste of what space travel was perceived to be like back in the 50s. Serious fans like me will just love the fact that they have been transferred to DVD and will be thankful for it.

    Note that the the packaging lists this transfer as being in colour, but it is not.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie was handled well and there were no major problems caused by the transfer process.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is, of course, not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is surprisingly clear and sharp considering the age of the original film stock. Shadow detail is acceptable, and there were no specific areas that were too dreary or dark. There is little low level noise.

    The grey shades are what you would expect from any film of this era. While not rich or bold in intensity, there were still strong contrasts between the different shades.

    There were a lot of MPEG artefacts to be seen. Examples can be seen in most areas where there is motion. Aliasing is also quite common throughout. Naturally there are film artefacts throughout the entire movie, which is due to the age of the original film stock. The local distributors advised that the costs to remove these artefacts were prohibitive. At first they were distracting, but after a few minutes I just got right into the story and they seemed to fade away and not really distract. The transfer contains reel change markings which started at 18:04 and reappeared roughly every 20 minutes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is nominally in English Dolby Digital 2.0, but it sounded strictly mono, with no directional sound support.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. There was some very mild hiss apparent during some of the dialogue.

    Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The musical score by Herschel Burke Gilbert was eerie and a fitting choice for this style of movie and typical of the film's era. The volume mix did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie.

    The surround channels were not used by this film.

    Likewise, the subwoofer was inactive for the duration of this film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras consist of trailers from more classics of this genre and era

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie, presenting a picture of a drive-in theatre with the trailers and menu choices shown as projections on the drive-in's screen. It was quite neat and worked well

Theatrical Trailer (1:22)

    The Project Moon Base trailer is shown with the same aspect ratio and sound as the main feature. The video quality is comparable to that of the main presentation.

Theatrical Trailers (8:58)

    A wide selection of trailers are present. They are all shown without any gaps or location markers so you need to watch them all or not at all. There is no way to pick an individual trailer. The trailers appear in the following order;

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Details of the Region 1 version of this DVD are scant, but it would appear to be on a par with the Region 4 release. All things being equal, the PAL formatted version of this disc would presumably be a better choice than the NTSC formatted one.

Summary

    Project Moon Base will appeal to lovers of the old sci-fi classics.

    The video contains a lot of film artefacts, but this adds to the charm of the experience. The quality of this transfer caused no problems per se, and was obviously handled with care.

    The audio quality is what you would expect from a movie of this age.

    The extras provide a teaser for other movies that I hope will someday be transferred to DVD as well.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Friday, November 23, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer XV-DV55, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer XV-DV55
SpeakersPioneer S-DV55ST-K Satellite wall mouted 5-Speaker System; Pioneer S-DV55SW-K Powered Subwoofer

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