The Lost Missile (1958)


(director: Lester William Berke; screenwriter: Jerome Bixby/John McPartland/from a story by Lester Wm. Berke; cinematographer: Kenneth Peach; editor: Everett Sutherland; music: Gerald Fried; cast: Robert Loggia (Dr. David Loring), Ellen Parker (Joan Woods), Phillip Pine (Dr. Joe Freed), Larry Kerr (General Barr), Marilee Earle (Ella Freed), Fred Engelberg (TV singer), Kitty Kelly (Mother Freed), Selmer Jackson (Secretary of State); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lee Gordon; United Artists; 1958)

“A downbeat end of the world sci-fi movie that fizzles more than it dazzles.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lester William Berke (“Mac and Me”) wrote the thematic Cold War is insane story and when his director father, William, died of a heart attack, he took over the directing chores.WritersJerome Bixby and John McPartland wrote the screenplay for this cheapie black-and-white production, a downbeat end of the world sci-fi movie that fizzles more than it dazzles. The film is well-intentioned and finely acted, but because of its budget limitations it looks cheesy and relies too much on stock footage. It comes out very average, even if well-intentioned. It could have used someone like Ray Harryhausen creating the special effects and giving the pic some needed bang.

Havenbrook Atomic Laboratory, just outside of New York City, is the site of the top secret “Job” military project that has workaholic, humorless, dedicated genius scientist David Loring (Robert Loggia)nearly finished building a fuel rocket to carry a hydrogen warhead. David’s loyal assistant is his attractive fiancee Joan Woods (Ellen Parker), whom he is marrying at City Hall today. His harried colleague is Dr. Joe Freed (Phillip Pine), whose wife Ella (Marilee Earle) is expecting to give birth today. But the personal plans of the scientists give way to a call to emergency duty, as a mysterious alien missile is spotted by radar in outer space, which no country claims is theirs and is rapidly (travels at over 4,000 miles an hour) approaching New York City from over Ottawa. The UFO is so overheated at one million degrees that it’s destroying everything in its path and can’t be shot down by regular weapons. The lab goes on Red Alert, the valued scientists are evacuated, the city population is under martial law and ordered into bomb shelters (where Mrs. Freed gives birth), and school children are bussed out of NYC. It’s up to the self-sacrificing David, who refused evacuation and contacted radiation poison in his effort to launch his weapon against the missile. Don’t ask how he contacted radiation poison from an easily opened box of plutonium by juvenile delinquents, who probably escaped from Rebel Without A Cause! You might not believe it!


REVIEWED ON 12/26/2012 GRADE: C+