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12 to the Moon

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12 to the Moon (1959) starring Clark, Michi Kobi, Tom Conway, John Wengraf, Robert Montgomery Jr.
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12 to the Moon (1959) starring Ken Clark, Michi Kobi, Tom Conway, John Wengraf, Robert Montgomery Jr.

12 to the Moon – a 1959 science fiction film about an international crew attempting the first voyage to the moon. But the moon people may have something to say about that!

Things they got right

  • The bickering, and nationalism, among the 12 astronauts, from various countries. It’s frankly human nature, and reflected realistically.
  • The ground crew (of one person!) is comically wrong. But, having him be an African American, with nothing extraordinary about it.
  • The German scientist, filled with guilt over his father’s war crimes.
  • We never actually see the moon men. Which is a good thing. The imagination is far more powerful than anything they could have made.

Things they got wrong

  • International crew of 12. With a United Nations-like organization behind the expedition. In the real world, the U.N. can’t decide on what to order for lunch.
  • Transparent face masks. Which is frankly totally understandable. After all, the filmmakers want the audience to see the faces of the actors. It’s the same reason that (for example) Iron Man removes his mask at dangerous points in the MCU.
  • 27 hours to the moon!
  • They talk about the moon’s low gravity, but never show it.
  • It’s amazing how many meteor showers there are between the Earth and the Moon.
  • Those moon people sure are cold. Pun intended.
  • Amazing how the moon ship has atomic bombs on board!

Things they got comically wrong

  • Just how large the ship is. Spacious is a better word. 12 people live comfortably there. With room for atomic bombs, and a second ship inside!
  • Breathable air on the moon. Which immediately leads to kissing!
  • Moon quicksand.
  • The moon people, emotionless, are studying the young couple in love. Depending on their conclusions, they’ll destroy all humanity.
  • I don’t care how brilliant a scientist is, a man with a bad heart wouldn’t be sent along.
  • The flames keep shooting out of the rocket, instead of coasting, while it’s flying in space.


  • Ken Clark (Attack of the Giant Leeches) … Captain John Anderson. Commander of the expedition. He tries to save the crewman who dies in the lunar quicksand.
  • Michi KobiDr. Hideko Murata. For unknown reason, she can read the moon people’s hieroglyphics.
  • Tom Conway (The Seventh Victim, Bride of the Gorilla) … Dr. Feodor Orloff. Designer of the ship. He also oversaw its’ construction. A Russian, who claims credit for all inventions as belonging to Russia. Shades of Star Trek‘s Lt. Chekov!
  • Anthony Dexter (The Story of Mankind) … Dr. Luis Vargas
  • John Wengraf (5 Fingers) … Dr. Erich Heinrich. The man, filled with guilt for his Nazi father’s crimes. He suffers a heart attack on the moon.
  • Robert Montgomery Jr.Roddy Murdock
  • Phillip BairdDr. William Rochester
  • Richard Weber (Phantom Planet) … Dr. David Ruskin. An Israeli of Polish descent. He’s hostile to Orloff. His family were murdered by the Nazis. He admires Dr. Heinrich. Unaware that Heinrich’s father was a Nazi, responsible for the murder of Ruskin’s family.
  • Muzaffer TemaDr. Selim Hamid. He and Dr. Bomark fall in love & disappear.
  • Roger Til (Stargate) … Dr. Etienne Martel. A frenchman, who’s secretly a communist.
  • Cory DevlinDr. Asmara Markonen
  • Anna-Lisa (Have Rocket Will Travel) … Dr. Sigrid Bomark. Shortly after landing on the moon, she and Dr. Hamid go exploring, find a cave filled with breathable air, fall madly in love, and presumably make their way to the city of the moon people. They’re not seen again.
  • Francis X. Bushman (Sabrina) … Secretary General of the International Space Order

Editorial review of 12 to the Moon courtesy of Amazon

A group of twelve international scientists are the first to land on the moon. In their exploration of the surface, they run into all kinds of trouble, including threatening messages from alien life forms residing on the moon. Just a short nine years before the historic moon landing, this film’s understanding of the science of space exploration is fantastically simplistic, but this well-made science fiction film holds interest with a strong cast and intriguingly strange events, photographed with great style by John Alton. Ken Clark, Michi Kobi, Tom Conway, John Wengraf, and Robert Montgomery Jr. portray the intrepid scientists. Newly remastered.

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