I don’t know if the 1953 film Spaceways was Hammer Film Productions first tip toe into the science fiction genre, although it did come a few years earlier than the start of the awesome Quatermass films. Yet the BBC TV series did come out in the same year, I don’t know if Hammer had the rights then?
Spaceways is about a top secret British space project which intends to launch a satellite into orbit with a three phase rocket system. Two fuel parts to reach space and the third, the satellite section with enough space for two humans, to travel the final part into permanent orbit. With the intention of building a space station with a future construction plan to build a platform to launch rockets to the Moon and beyond.
The mission at the secret Deanfield laboratory is run by project manager Professor Koepler (Philip Leaver) who is joined by General Hayes (Anthony Ireland) from the defence council. The Professor introduces us to our four scientists, lead by chief structural designer and head of engineering Dr. Stephen Mitchell (Howard Duff). Dr. Lisa Frank (Eva Bartok) is head mathematician in the main control room, Dr. Philip Crenshaw (Andrew Osborn) head biologist overseeing the possibility of living conditions in space and finally Dr. Toby Andrews (Michael Medwin) rocket fuel specialist.
General Hayes – “So you’re the chap whos burning up all those gallons and gallons of hydrogen hyper peroxide?”
Dr. Toby Andrews – “And I’ll have to burn a lot more sir! because of me there might even be a shortage of blonds in the world!”
With the rocket tests not going as perfectly to plan as they hoped and the possibility of murder at the compound, we get introduced to a new scientist, (by far the best character in the film) the inquisitive snuff snorting and sneezing Dr. Smith (Alan Wheatley). Asking questions and making an annoyance of himself right off the bat as he tries to decipher what could of caused the project test to fail.
Let’s be honest this is more Cold War spy drama with added murder mystery with the background of space research and on paper it sounds a hell of a lot more exciting than it really is. There’s a few cool visuals and I liked the characters, especially Dr Smith but even with a short runtime of 74 minutes the film still felt long enough, what with all the standing around talking. However, I have a big soft spot for science fiction so I can be quite forgiving, though don’t rush out to see it, if it pops up on telly then maybe give it a whirl. Thanks for popping in on the wolf den.