Assignment: Outer Space (1960) Starring Gabriella Farinon, Rik Van Nutter, Alain Dijon, Archie Savage, Joe Pollini, Frank Fantasia, David Maran, Jose Nestor, Anita Todesco.
Directed by Anthony M.Dawson.
Runtime: 79 minutes.
Smarmy journalist Ray Petersen (Van Nutter) accompanies astronauts (in silvery Michelin Man-type outfits) on a preposterous outer space mission. After they emerge from suspended animation they do their utmost to make the unwanted intruder tagging along with them feel unwelcome and he does his utmost to annoy them.
The drama is supposed to heat up when a radiation disaster threatens the human race but the ponderous pacing makes it even less interesting than the contrived personality conflicts between the cardboard cutout characters.
You get the typical depiction of computerized instrumentation that the screen gave audiences of the time. Metallic boxes with lots of flashing lights and phoney levers and gauges and instruments that look like they are doing something but are in fact just flashing on and off. It was all probably very impressive back when the milieu of science fiction for the screen was beginning to take off.
The slipshod costuming looks like the kind you might buy at discount stores for kids to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. The astronaut’s uniforms have numbers sloppily painted on the backs of them and the props mostly look like stuff you would find in a toy store. These kinds of things are to be expected from a low budget film like this.
What I did not expect was the complete lack of personality this movie has. The low-production value is an almost welcome distraction from the lifelessness onscreen. The colour is as awful as the lighting and gives each frame an almost sickening look. This is one of the ugliest productions I have ever seen.
I can even say this movie is overly long because all bad movies seem like they are. Seventy-nine minutes may not seem like a lot (most low budget productions are of even shorter length for the simple reason that they run out of money before they are able to finish as much as they intended) but the period of time sure can stand still when you are watching drek.
Given how appalling all the other elements are the dialogue and acting actually are not that bad comparatively speaking though the soundwork is uneven and detracts from each.
As with most low budget science fiction similar material to this was handled better, and in less screen time by episodes of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. This happens to be one of the few with lower production value than The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.
Rik Van Nutter who plays Petersen here would go on to play Felix Leiter in the James Bond movie Thunderball (1965).
Anthony M.Dawson was the screen alias of Italian film director Antonio Margheriti.