After producing several successful sci-fi movies in the early 1950s George Pal made his most ambitious and biggest movie to date, 1955’s Conquest of Space.
While effects were impressive for the time the story is a bit strange and flat. The movie bombed when it was released and it set Pal back a few years and he didn’t venture into outer space again.
In the near future Earth has built an international space station that orbits the planet. Beside the station a new rocket ship has been built. New orders arrive that inform current commander Samuel T. Merritt (Walter Brooke) that he has been promoted to general and is charge of a new space mission to Mars. Merriett picks his son Capt. Barney Merritt (Eric Fleming) to be second in command and the small crew leave for Mars.
A small problem arises because the good General has been in space too long. He’s starting to unravel and he’s turned to reading his bible more and more. When one of the crew is killed making repairs before an asteroid collusion the General takes it as a sign from God that they are doing blasphemous work. He tries to sabotage the mission and when they finally arrive on Mars he tries to crash the ship.
Shortly after arriving the General sabotages the men’s water supply. The General’s son Captain Merrit tries to disarm his father but ends in a fight to survive.
The effects aren’t the greatest but they’re not too bad. Some of the designs were taken from the work of Wernher von Braun. The movie’s failure lead to Pal cancelling work on a When Worlds Collide sequel. George Pal would bounce back in 1958 with Tom Thumb but he never went into space again.