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Lesley Selander
Cameron Mitchell, Marguerite Chapman, Arthur Franz
Writing Credits:
Arthur Strawn

Five astronauts successfully fly to Mars where they encounter seemingly friendly and advanced inhabitants who harbor covert plans to use their ship to invade Earth.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 72 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 7/20/2021

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Justin Humphreys
• “From Bomba to Body Snatchers” Featurette
• “Interstellar Travelogues” Featurette
• Booklet


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Flight to Mars [Blu-Ray] (1951)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 3, 2021)

Recently I watched 1948’s I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes, the second movie produced by Osca winner Walter Mirisch. Another early effort from Mirisch, 1951’s Flight to Mars strays into science-fiction, a strong contrast to the film noir of Shoes.

An expedition takes a space journey from Earth to Mars. On board we find journalist Steve Abbott (Cameron Mitchell) as well as four scientists.

When they arrive on the Red Planet, they discover an advanced civilization of beings who just happen to look like humans and also speak English. The Martians feel they’ve used up the minerals required for life support, so they attempt to pilfer the Earth spacecraft and get the heck out of Dodge.

Flight came out smack-dab in an era where sci-fi movies about space trips and alien creatures frequently populated theaters. With so many genre efforts at our disposal, does Flight do anything to merit a spot in the collective memory?

Outside of Mirisch’s participation, not really. Slow, cheap and silly, Flight doesn’t hold up well after 70 years.

How can a movie that runs a mere 72 minutes and covers a pretty epic story drag so badly? Flight wastes nearly half its run time before the travelers finally arrive on Mars, and it doesn’t use that real estate well.

Sure, we get some of the usual character and story exposition, but the film could’ve wrapped up these elements in a more rapid manner. The 30 minutes or so Flight requires to get to Mars comes with maybe 10 minutes or actual content, so it dawdles and meanders on its way.

Matters don’t improve much when we do find ourselves on Mars. Oddly chatty for a sci-fi adventure, much of Flight focuses on exposition-laden conversations among characters, and these become tedious.

I get that Flight suffered from a low budget and a very brief shooting schedule, so it didn’t come with the wherewithal to give us an epic. Still, this often feels like Conference Room: The Movie, as we find ourselves stuck in endless meetings and conversations among the participants.

What kid wants to watch a flick in which we get little more than debate and discussion? I guess those behind Flight figured the notion of the Martian setting would be enough to satisfy the young audience.

And maybe it did, as the exotic concept might’ve kept the viewers occupied through all the tedium. 70 years later, though, this seems grossly insufficient, and Flight can’t compensate in other ways.

Okay, Marguerite Chapman looks pretty sexy in her ludicrously high heels and mega-miniskirt. Otherwise, I find little to entertain here.

Well, little to intentionally entertain, that is. The cheap effects became unintentionally amusing, as does the fact that of course the movie makes female scientist Carol Stafford (Virginia Huston) more interested in the Mars kitchen than anything else.

Minor camp value aside, Flight becomes a chore to watch. Too slow, too dated and too dull, it lacks much entertainment value.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Flight to Mars appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not a bad presentation, the image tended to seem inconsistent.

For the most part, sharpness seemed adequate to good. Although I never found the movie to look especially precise, it usually maintained a more than acceptable level of accuracy.

No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain varied but seemed reasonably natural, and print flaws failed to become a concern.

Colors became one of the weirder aspects of the image, as the hues sometimes varied literally from second to second. Skin tones fluctuated all over the place, and in some shots, hues would alter their intensity rapidly. I suspect this stemmed from the “Cinecolor” process used, but whatever the case, the colors became erratic.

Blacks were fairly deep and dense, while shadows seemed appropriately delineated. At times this turned into an appealing presentation, but the mix of ups and downs left it as a “C+”.

Though nothing memorable, the DTS-HD monaural soundtrack of Flight felt more than adequate given the movie’s age. Speech seemed reasonably natural, with lines that remained easily intelligible and only occasionally a little edgy.

Music and effects lacked a lot of range, but they showed decent clarity. While louder elements occasionally suffered from some distortion, these moments didn’t pop up with much frequency. Ultimately, the movie came with a perfectly adequate soundtrack.

A few extras fill out the disc, and we open with an audio commentary from film historian Justin Humphreys. He offers a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, genre reflections and production notes.

Poor Humphreys sounds like he drew the short straw, as he never musters much enthusiasm for Flight. I admit I like this from the point of view that usually discussions of this sort tend toward lots of happy talk and praise.

Humphreys occasionally tries to spin the film’s alleged positives, but he more often gets into the flick’s rampant mediocrity. Humphreys relates that he thinks Flight provides a competent production but he recognizes how inherently meh it is.

That means the track probably won’t endear Humphreys to the movie’s fans, but I do appreciate the honesty. Humphreys could spend more time on actual filmmaking info, but this still turns into a fairly useful discussion.

Two featurettes follow, and From Bomba to Body Snatchers runs 14 minutes, eight seconds. It includes notes from film historian C. Courtney Joyner.

“Bomba” examines the history of Monogram Pictures as well as the career of producer Walter Mirisch. Joyner gives us a quick and informative look at the subject matter.

Interstellar Travelogues goes for 10 minutes, 30 seconds and features remarks from science-fiction artist Vincent Di Fate as he gives us a look at this film’s genre. Expect another engaging discussion.

The set also includes a booklet. It presents art and a good essay called “Mars at the Movies” from Don Stradley.

While Flight to Mars might boast some value as a throwback to 1950s sci-fi, the film itself bores. Even at a mere 72 minutes, the movie moves slowly and becomes a chore to watch. The Blu-ray comes with mediocre picture and audio as well as a few bonus materials. Leave this snoozer for genre completists.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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