Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967)


Starring: Burl Ives, Terry-Thomas, Troy Donahue, Gert Fröbe, Hermione Gingold, Lionel Jeffries and Dennis Price
Distributor: StudioCanal
Certificate: U
Release Date: 12 April 2021

StudioCanal release a brand-new restoration of the classic adventure comedy Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon. Based on an original work by the great pre-science-fiction author Jules Verne, the film is directed by Don Sharp (The Thirty Nine Steps, (1978)). In Victorian England, the race to build, invent and discover is at its peak but results in many embarrassing and dangerous failures. Professor Von Bulow plans to send a projectile to the Moon using a powerful new explosive he has invented. Meanwhile, Sir Charles Dillworth and his shady brother-in-law, Harry Washington-Smythe (Terry Thomas), plot to sabotage the moonship expedition...

Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon is in a similar vein to movies like Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965). In fact, in the US it was released as Those Fantastic Flying Fools in a bid to capitalise on the success of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.

The plot is very loosely based on Jules Verne's 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon with the movie being more focused on the race to build and launch the rocket than it is to actually land on the moon. There's a Who's Who of famous international actors of the time, including Burl Ives, Troy Donahue, Graham Stark, Gert Fröbe, Hermione Gingold, Lionel Jeffries, Dennis Price and the inimitable Terry Thomas. But this large ensemble also means that the plot suffers a little as each actor has to have their time on screen.

It was interesting listening to the extras on the disc as it's revealed that in order to get financing for the film, producer Harry Alan Towers, secured funding from various foreign backers - all of whom wanted actors that were famous in their country to take centre stage.

This unfortunately means that the story is drawn out a little, but not so much that it's too much of a problem. But then again, the plot needs to be dragged out because the story really is paper thin. Some may feel cheated by the rather flat ending to the race to the moon, but it feels rather fitting, especially considering the recurring theme that the race to make scientific leaps has constantly been out of the reach of all of the scientists involved.

Extras include a new interview with journalist and film historian Matthew Sweet (23 min, 29 sec); a new interview with journalist and film critic Kim Newman (20 min, 42 sec); and On the Set of Rocket to the Moon - Silent footage from British Pathé (1 min, 06 sec).

It's an impressive looking production and is certainly entertaining enough. It's not quite up there with the movies it tries to emulate, but it comes very close.


Darren Rea

Buy this item online