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ROCKETSHIP X-M (1950)

Tonight you are invited here to witness an important event. You are all familiar with our previous work in sending robot missiles into space. That phase is at an end. Tonight we will launch the first manned spaceship, the RXM: Rocketship Expedition Moon.




  Director:
 
Kurt Neumann

  Starring: 
Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery Jr, Hugh O’Brian, Morris Ankrum

  Screenplay: 
Kurt Neumann, Orville H. Hampton (uncredited) and Dalton Trumbo (uncredited)

Synopsis:  An audience consisting of representatives of all American news services listens in amazement as Dr Ralph Fleming (Morris Ankrum) announces that within mere minutes, a manned rocket, the RXM, will be launched into space, its object the moon. Dr Fleming introduces the rocket’s crew: expedition leader, ship designer and physicist Dr Karl Eckstrom (John Emery); Eckstrom’s assistant, chemist Dr Lisa Van Horn (Osa Massen); Colonel Floyd Graham (Lloyd Bridges), the pilot; astronomer and navigator Harry Chamberlain (Hugh O’Brian); and engineer Major William Corrigan (Noah Beery Jr). Dr Eckstrom addresses the audience, explaining details of the rocket’s design and its flight plan. The reporters are then permitted to interview the crew. When one of them questions the inclusion of a woman, Dr Eckstrom quickly interjects that it is Dr Van Horn’s pioneering research that has led to the development of the ship’s experimental fuel, without which the mission could not be undertaken. The time for the ship’s launch is reached. Dr Fleming and Dr Eckstrom share a reflective moment, marvelling that after so many years of planning and work, their dream is about to be realised. The crew boards and prepares for the lift-off. From the observation bunker, Dr Fleming, his team and the reporters look on in awe as mankind’s first manned rocket hurtles into space.... The flight proceeds as planned until the ship reaches escape velocity, and its tail section is jettisoned: a collision between the ship and the tail is narrowly avoided. Eckstrom makes the final possible radio report to Earth; Fleming listens in mingled excitement and apprehension as his colleague’s voice fades into nothingness.... As the ship travels into the unrelieved darkness of outer space, the crew members find themselves dealing with the effects of reduced gravity. Floyd Graham tries to flirt with Lisa, but she is unresponsive. Frustrated, Floyd questions why a woman would want to involve herself in space travel in the first place. Before Lisa can answer him, a strange grinding noise echoes through the ship. The next moment, all power has been lost. Bill Corrigan pressurises the motor-room so that he and Floyd can inspect the engines, but they find nothing wrong. Eckstrom concludes that the problem must be the fuel mixture. He and Lisa sit down to re-check their calculations, a process that ends with the two of them in disagreement. Eckstrom insists upon using his own figures, dismissing Lisa’s urgent plea that they try both sets of calculations on the grounds of a lack of time, and ignoring her warning that the experimental fuel can behave unpredictably. Floyd and Bill reconfigure the fuel tanks. The crew-members brace for the re-start, but are unprepared for the ship’s reaction to the new fuel mix. Uncontrolled acceleration throws them violently across the cabin, leaving them unconscious, and the RXM travelling through space at unchecked velocity....

Comments:  After the false start of The Flying Saucer, fifties science fiction proper got underway with the June 1950 release of Rocketship X-M – although that’s not how things were intended to be. By rights, by justice, the most significant era in the history of cinematic science fiction should have kicked off with the purest of all the films of that great decade, Destination Moon. George Pal’s seminal space flight film was, however, no ordinary production: “Two Years In The Making!”, as its own advertising art put it; costing over half a million dollars, then a remarkable sum for a comparatively small production company like Eagle-Lion; hiring scientific advisors in order to ensure its authenticity; and the subject of a LIFE Magazine cover story in April of 1950, the making of Destination Moon was An Event – and one that ultimately became the victim of its own artistic commitment.

As the creators of Destination Moon moved slowly, painstakingly, towards the completion of their uniquely serious-minded film, a B-movie producer named Robert L. Lippert heard opportunity knocking. Rushed into production and costing less than a fifth of its inspiration, Rocketship X-M made it into cinemas twenty-five days before Destination Moon, shamelessly taking a free ride on the ballyhoo surrounding its infinitely more prestigious competitor. (As star Lloyd Bridges has admitted in interview, a large part of the paying public was confused as to which of the two “space films” was which, and Robert Lippert made no effort to enlighten it.) Destination Moon had all the success that its makers could have hoped for: it was profitable, it won the Academy Award for its special effects and, most importantly of all, it opened the public’s mind to the real possibility of space travel. What’s more, the film found itself supported and defended by a small army of critics, who took the makers of Rocketship X-M to task for so blatantly riding upon their inspiration’s coattails. However, for Robert Lippert, tallying up the profits from his exercise in exploitation – and in basic monetary terms, Rocketship X-M was more successful than Destination Moon – these head-shakings and finger-wavings must have been so much water off the back of a very contented duck.

Philosophically, Destination Moon and Rocketship X-M could hardly be further apart. The former is a solemn and measured work, offering up a meticulous examination of each step in the process by which mankind might – and in due course, would – walk upon the moon. Each of its story aspects is there as the result of full and careful consideration on the part of the film-makers of the perils that might really confront the first space explorers. Plenty of perils confront the characters of Rocketship X-M, too, but for the most part they are used as nothing more than cheap shocks. While Destination Moon spends nearly a third of its running-time examining how and by whom a rocket might be built – and paid for – Rocketship X-M skips blithely past the realities of its situation, opening with its crew being interviewed by the press just prior to boarding the RXM – and I do mean just prior: they are still chatting with the gathered reporters eleven minutes before take-off!

(While this abbreviated way of dealing with momentous events is fairly silly, this section of the film does contain one of my favourite scenes, a touch of genuine emotion, when Ralph Fleming and Karl Eckstrom contemplate the culmination of all their dreams and so many years of work. “You remember, when we started, what they called us?” says Eckstrom, and Fleming responds promptly, “Young crackpots!” “Yes, and what are we now?” muses Eckstrom. “Maybe just....crackpots.”)

Part of the press interview sees Karl Eckstrom demonstrating the design of the RXM and its proposed trajectory – and here we have one of the rare moments where this film manages to outdo its model. One of Destination Moon’s few real errors lies in the design of its ship, the Luna, which is a sleek, finned, single-stage rocket bearing little resemblance to the multi-stage vessels that would finally take man to the moon. (Copycat spaceships would, nevertheless, appear with monotonous regularity throughout the fifties, and no wonder: incorrect though its design may be, the Luna is gorgeous.) Rocketship X-M gives us a craft that is in essence a giant fuel-tank, and which comes with a tail section intended for jettisoning once its fuel is exhausted and escape velocity has been reached. In the overall context of the film, the design of the RXM is startling in its practicality. No credit for this goes to the film-makers, however: the design was cribbed wholesale from a LIFE Magazine article published the year before.

The rocketship marks the beginning and the end of Rocketship X-M’s scientific accuracy. Given that it was their own insistence on taking their time and getting everything as correct as possible that allowed Rocketship X-M to make it into cinemas first, what must the makers of Destination Moon have felt when confronted by the tosh served up by their upstart rivals?

Our problems start the moment the RXM’s tail-section is jettisoned: having been forcibly propelled in one direction, the tail somehow manages to turn back upon itself, and almost wipes out its parent ship. Having survived this mysterious close encounter, the crew-members report in to mission control for the very last time, radio contact with Earth proving impossible once the RXM has left the atmosphere. Our intrepid explorers then tuck into the very first meal ever consumed in outer space – sandwiches – before learning that the RXM is destined to be acted upon by some very selective gravitational forces: jackets, seatbelts and harmonicas – yes, harmonicas – tend to go drifting off around the cabin; other loose items are mysteriously unaffected, as indeed is the crew. A little later, the RXM experiences a truly historical event, the very first meteoroid shower in fifties science fiction. These heavenly bodies – which look suspiciously like lumps of candy-coated popcorn – go hurtling past the RXM with a roar so loud, it wakes up the sleeping crew-members and drowns their exclamations of alarm. (Well – all except for Floyd’s cry of, “Meteorites!”) And then there’s the little matter of the RXM’s engines cutting out for no reason – at which point, despite having reached a reported velocity of more than 21,000 miles per hour, the ship – just – stops.

And so, for that matter, does the film.

The Right Stuff, circa 1950.

Whether or not the scientific content of Rocketship X-M would have been less dubious had the film been longer in production is debatable: plenty of “serious” works get just as much wrong, after all. In any case, it is less the prevalence of sloppy science than the lack of any real story structure that betrays the hurried way in which this project was thrown together. Clearly, the film-makers knew that they wanted to launch their characters into space, which they do very briskly. They also knew what events would comprise their film’s climax – or as it turns out, climaxes. Between these two extremes, however, lies an extended period during which Rocketship X-M simply sits there twiddling its thumbs. It is here, in the absence of any particular story to tell, that the film tries to build suspense with its homicidal tail section and its “meteorite” shower, and amuses its characters, if not the audience, with some whacky gravitational high jinks. For the rest, Rocketship X-M chooses to fill the remaining dead air with character scenes – and what character scenes!

It’s a toss-up as to which of our competing space films a modern audience will find harder to take in the character department. It is fair to say, I think, that Destination Moon has barely any characters at all, at least in the usual sense of that word: it is peopled by individuals so determinedly realistic, they end up being not just unmemorable, but occasionally downright dull. The one exception, a textbook case of going from one extreme to the other, is Dick Wesson who, as the film’s Odious Comic Relief©, is nothing short of excruciating.

Rocketship X-M, whether by design or coincidence, features an OCR© as well, with Noah Beery Jr’s Bill Corrigan putting in a concerted effort to make Texas the second-most hated place in the science fiction universe, right after Brooklyn. Hugh O’Brian’s Harry Chamberlain is, only too obviously, the team’s weak link. Sure enough, when trouble strikes it is Harry who frets out loud about the strain upon the oxygen and fuel supplies; Harry who ponders, after the meteoroid shower, whether sudden death might not have been preferable to their threatened slow extinction, lost in space (so to speak). Not that any of this was necessary: from the moment that Harry’s lower lip quivers as he waits for the RXM to take off, the experienced space film watcher just knows he won’t be making it home. Karl Eckstrom, scientist and expedition leader, is not without his points of interest, as we shall see; but it is with respect to the remaining two characters and their interaction that Rocketship X-M bestowed, for better or for worse, a permanent legacy upon the science fiction films to follow.

"How long do you think you can keep up this pretence of being smart, brave, qualified and competent?"

(Oh, who am I kidding? It was for worse. Worse, worse, WORSE!)

There are no significant female characters in Destination Moon. Set in “the present”, that is, in 1950, and striving for realism, such a notion was simply out of the question. Less concerned with realism – and with an eye, perhaps, on a broader box office – Rocketship X-M gives us Dr Lisa Van Horn, the fifties’ first female scientist, as well as its first female space traveller. Unfortunately, these days Lisa is remembered less as a cinematic pioneer than she is as the party on the receiving end of some perfectly skin-crawling sexism, a fitting to way to open a decade that raised such things to an art form.

The most famous, not to say infamous, exchange of dialogue in Rocketship X-M is provoked by Lisa’s refusal to giggle childishly over the effects of weightlessness, as her male companions do. Floyd Graham’s reaction to this is, in effect, to take offence at her very professionalism. “Don’t you ever think about anything but work?” he demands, before adding the inevitable rider: “How does a girl like you get mixed up in a thing like this?”

Justly nettled, Lisa retorts, “I suppose you think women should only cook, and sew, and bear children? At which, Floyd leans in and, with a smirk that must have registered at least a 10.5 on the Smug-O-Meter, inquires, “Isn’t that enough?”

Isn’t that enough? Curious words, I would have thought, to address to a woman with whom you are travelling through outer space in a rocketship. Evidently in Floyd Graham’s world, completing a doctorate in advanced organic chemistry, inventing a synthetic fuel that makes interplanetary travel possible and qualifying for the space program are just things that a woman does to fill in the time before she catches a husband.

"I need a 5-letter word for 'chauvinistic jackass'."

Horrifyingly, Floyd’s Neanderthal courtship displays (which, as perhaps in this day and age I need to clarify – I’d love to think I do, anyway – are supposed to make him attractive) are not all, nor indeed the worst, of what Lisa has to suffer through, the creators of this film having seen fit to send this unfortunate woman into the depths of space with not one, but two – count ’em, two – male chauvinists, the second being Lisa’s boss, colleague and supposed supporter, Dr Karl Eckstrom. Disgusting as Floyd Graham and his chest-beating is, at least he’s honestly porcine. Eckstrom, on the other hand, is a closet chauvinist, the kind who, preening himself mentally all the while about his progressive attitudes, no doubt, makes bold public speeches about Lisa’s contributions to and qualifications for the mission, but who, the moment she expresses an opinion of her own or even, God forbid, contradicts him, instantly shows the cloven foot. And the little curly tail. Crisis point is reached when the two scientists begin to re-calculate the proportions of Lisa’s experimental fuel, in order to re-start the rocketship. Comparing figures, the two find themselves in disagreement – which of course, at least in Eckstrom’s opinion, means that Lisa made a mistake. Knowing full well that she did nothing of the kind, Lisa is compelled to protest, pointing out the potentially fatal consequences of a miscalculation, and trying to convince Eckstrom that they should try both sets of figures.

“You can’t be arbitrary about imposing your will when these people’s lives are at stake!” she insists.

Now, consider that speech. In the mouth of any of the film’s male characters, it would be brave, candid – and right. In Lisa’s, however, it’s merely a sign that she’s letting emotion enter into it.

Oh, yes. Eckstrom’s already played that card, one of the aces in the male deck. Before long, he’ll play the other one. Here, oddly, Lisa feels obliged to offer an apology for expressing her concern over the fate of her colleagues, one which Eckstrom, in full-on gloat mode, assures her is unnecessary: Lisa was just momentarily being a woman. But to Eckstrom’s annoyance, Lisa cannot quell her doubts and continues to argue with him, forcing him to play his trump card. When she cites the sometimes unpredictable behaviour of the fuel and the fact that they have never tested experimentally the use it will now be put to, Eckstrom stops her dead in her tracks with a snide, “Woman’s intuition?”

"Now, granted, you have a PhD in Advanced Mathematical Theory; but I have a Y-chromosome!"

And so Lisa shuts up. And Eckstrom gets his own way. And the RXM, fuelled according to Eckstrom’s calculations, goes careening forward in a state of uncontrolled acceleration, knocking its crew into an extended period of unconsciousness, and heading straight towards disaster....

And it is here, I think, that we recognise one of the most interesting things about Rocketship X-M: its ambivalence about its female lead. At our first glimpse of Lisa, she is proving to be the only member of the rocket crew whose blood pressure is normal pre-take-off; later on, she will be the first to recover when the crew-members are knocked unconscious. “The weaker sex,” comments Floyd admiringly; he will also refer to her, not quite so admiringly, perhaps, as “the brains department”. It is Lisa’s research, we learn, that has made the space flight possible in the first place. And importantly, she understands not just the benefits, but the limitations of her work. There is never a moment when the film comments on the outcome of Lisa’s clash with her boss – we never get the satisfaction of a squirming Eckstrom saying something like, “Gee, Lisa, hope I wasn’t out of line with that crack about ‘woman’s intuition’....” – but the fact remains that Lisa is right and Eckstrom is wrong, and his bull-headed dismissal of her work and opinions does exactly what she most fears: it propels the crew of the RXM into direst danger. Bowing to the cinematic conventions of the time (and not just of that time), Rocketship X-M foregrounds the Lisa-Floyd interaction, so it is not surprising that this is what viewers tend to remember. (And yes, much as it pains me to say so, the two do end up in a clinch before the film is over.) Look beyond the conventionalities, however, and you will find some surprising attitudes on display here. In an era when far too many female characters in science fiction films were there just to scream, faint and be rescued, Rocketship X-M does things a little bit better.

It is not only in the handling of its female lead that Rocketship X-M goes in some unexpected directions. Our first hint of this comes after the meteoroid shower, which Bill Corrigan describes laughingly as “heavenly flak” – only to stop laughing and reflect that perhaps he has spoken truly in jest. “Say....maybe someone doesn’t want us to get where we’re going?” What is implied here is made explicit after the crew reconfigures the fuel proportions and consequently loses control of the RXM. As the rocketship accelerates uncontrollably, the five are thrown across the cabin and collectively knocked out cold. They recover an indeterminate period of time later to find that not only are no longer in the vicinity of the moon, but that they are approaching Mars!!

"Gentlemen...I'm afraid that not even six men in suits can help them now!"

Some cynical commentators have suggested that the RXM’s sudden journey from the moon to Mars has less to do with the unexplored properties of Lisa’s fuel than it does with a series of legally threatening letters sent to the producers of Rocketship X-M by the producers of Destination Moon. (And in truth, there are so many points of similarity between the two films in their early sections – right down to the OCR© with the harmonica and, heaven help us, the sandwiches – that you don’t have to be particularly cynical to suspect that somehow, someone connected with Rocketship X-M got a peek at the script of Destination Moon.) To do the writers of Rocketship X-M as much justice as we can, it is clear that they well aware of just how ludicrous this plot twist was, and that they did everything they could to cover it. They stress the experimental nature of Lisa’s fuel and its “unpredictability”; they never reveal just how long everyone has been unconscious (“It must have been....days,” breathes Eckstrom); and they include many solemn pronouncements about “unchecked velocity” and “infinite motion”. But it is Karl Eckstrom who has the final word upon the subject: “There are times when a mere scientist has gone as far as he can; when he must pause and observe respectfully while something....infinitely greater....assumes control.”

Yes, indeed: the RXM has made it all the way to Mars as the result of divine intervention....

Quite a number of science fiction films of the fifties have a religious aspect to their stories. Sometimes these are quite subtle; sometimes, a film will do everything short of having God stand up on a soapbox and shout at humanity through a megaphone – and in the case of films like Red Planet Mars, that remark is scarcely even an exaggeration. But regardless of attitude, it all started here, with Rocketship X-M.

(Actually, there’s a peculiar aspect to the instances of divine intervention in this film, namely that they tend to strike whenever Floyd is trying to make romantic headway with Lisa. Thus the ship’s engines cut out inexplicably during the “how did a girl like you - ?” sequence, while the meteoroid shower strikes in the middle of Floyd waxing lyrical on the effects of moonlight. In both cases it’s as if God was listening in on those conversations, and decided that She didn’t like the way they were going.)

"I knew we should have taken that left turn at Albuqueque...."

In the belief that they have been led to Mars for a reason, the crew lands on the planet and sets out to explore. This is the most fondly remembered aspect of Rocketship X-M, in which a touch of the mysterious is given to the overly familiar locations of Death Valley and Red Rock Canyon through the simple – and inexpensive – expedient of shooting everything through a red filter. And this is also where this low-budget, essentially commercial production wins itself a slice of immortality: for our space travellers make a discovery on Mars, that of a ruined civilisation, its crumbled remains covered in a pall of radioactivity.... We’re so used now to thinking of the fifties as the decade of the atomic scare film that it is easy to undervalue what Rocketship X-M does here, but make no mistake about it: in 1950, this was daring stuff. And the film takes it one step further: Mars is still populated. Its men are hairless, radiation-scarred primitives; its women are blind (a shock revelation which is rather spoiled by the neatly arranged hair, plucked eyebrows and lipstick of our “atomic mutant”).

Well, the inhabitants of Mars may have devolved, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous; and it is a depleted crew that staggers back to the RXM. The survivors do manage to take off again – and it is then that all that unanticipated fuel consumption finally catches up with them....

While the screen credits of Rocketship X-M list only producer-director Kurt Neumann as its screenwriter, with additional dialogue by Orville Hampton, it is now known that the screenplay was also worked upon by Dalton Trumbo, in the period of time between his conviction for contempt of Congress, and the failure of his appeal against that conviction the following year. This fact, in conjunction with the short pre-production period of Rocketship X-M, which perhaps allowed insufficient time for a smooth fusion of the conflicting ideas emanating from the various writers, may go some way towards explaining the strange mixture of philosophies to be found within this film, which serves to keep it interesting even when it isn’t particularly good: the inconsistencies in the characterisation of Lisa, for instance; or why, having gone to so much trouble to warn the people of Earth of the dangers of nuclear war, God seems determined to make the delivery of that warning as difficult as possible; or how what started out simply as a low-budget exploitationer meant to cash in on its more prestigious rival ended up being one of the grimmest of all the fifties science fiction “message” films.

And then there’s that ending. Oh – that ending....

Symptoms of radiation poisoning include blindness and wearing far too much make-up.

It may be hard to believe in this era of cable TV, internet downloads and collector’s edition DVD releases for everything, but there was a time, not so long ago (well – I like to think it wasn’t all that long ago) when many films, most films, were difficult to see. In those days, not just before the DVD, but prior to the advent of the VCR and inexpensive sell-through videos, if you missed a film upon its first release, there was a chance that you’d never see it at all. Oh, you might have been lucky. Maybe the film you were dying to see would show up on TV on a Saturday night, or a Sunday afternoon – or, more likely, at three o’clock in the morning, at which point it became a matter of willpower and endurance. Nor was there really such a thing as “film studies”. Books on movies, particularly B-movies, were rare indeed. There were no TV shows devoted to new movie releases, no saturation advertising, no product placement ties-in, no internet sites intent upon revealing every single detail about a film months before it got anywhere near a cinema. All of which meant, among other things, that you could go to see a film without knowing very much about it, and actually get a surprise.

But of course, you try and tell the young people of today that, and they won’t believe you.

Way back when, there used to be a little revival cinema in my home town, now sadly defunct, that ran science fiction and horror double- and triple-bills at least twice a week – and where, consequently, I spent a disproportionate amount of my free time. Many of the films I now love best, I saw there for the first time. Granted, the quality of the material available was often less than optimal. Many a time I ended up sitting through a faded Eastmancolor print where everything was as pink as the Mars sequence in Rocketship X-M; or where, obviously, mismatched footage from different copies of a film had been hastily spliced together, possibly with sticky tape; or where a familiar production became a whole new viewing experience, courtesy of having its reels projected in the wrong order. (They did that with Attack Of The Crab Monsters, as I recall.) It was at that cinema, perhaps twenty years ago, perhaps even more, that I first saw Rocketship X-M, on a double-bill with – I thinkConquest Of Space. I knew very little about either film, going in, except that they were fifties science fiction – which was enough. And so I sat there in the dark, wincing at Bill Corrigan’s Texas “humour”; wondering idly whether even a sharp knee to the groin would be enough to wipe the smug expression from Floyd Graham’s face; indulging feelings of gratified sisterhood when Lisa Van Horn turned out to be right, and Karl Eckstrom wrong; and totally unprepared for what this film would serve up in its final act. At this distance, I can barely remember anything of Conquest Of Space – if it was in fact Conquest Of Space – but I have never forgotten Rocketship X-M...

Only one thing in the universe could have made Lisa do this....

Rocketship X-M is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a great film. Destination Moon is, I think – but it is also an artistic cul-de-sac. In achieving exactly what it set out to achieve, that film left nowhere for its followers to go. Rocketship X-M, in contrast, precisely by virtue being such a heterogeneous hodge-podge of underdeveloped ideas and conflicting attitudes, would end up influencing a whole decade’s worth of science fiction.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider the achievements of this low-budget little film, shall we? It was the first serious science fiction film of the fifties; the first to put mankind into space; the first to land him on another planet; and the first to show us aliens. It was the first to give us a relatively accurate vision of planet Earth from outer space – that is, if you can overlook the seam! – and possibly not just the first, but the only film ever to do this without automatically giving us a fixed view of the Americas! It was the first film to include a woman amongst its space pioneers, and to suggest that she might be entirely qualified to be there – even if it does finally beat a nervous retreat into a more conventionally romantic standpoint. (At least, unlike two later films that come immediately to mind, Rocketship X-M never suggests that Lisa’s main qualification is her weight differential.) And significantly, it was the first, not just to use “the bomb” as a plot point, but to have the nerve to be negative about it. Perhaps less importantly, yet no less notably, as things turned out, Rocketship X-M was the first science fiction film of the fifties to use a Theremin on its soundtrack. And last but not least (anyway, I don’t think so) – it was the first to feature Morris Ankrum in a supporting role – and he gets some very fine and touching moments, by the way, particularly with his silent acting during the film’s concluding scenes.

It’s easy enough to see the faults in Rocketship X-M – they are many, and they are manifest – but to my mind, no film that, however unknowingly, can boast such a remarkable collection of seminal touches can simply be dismissed. It may not be a patch upon many of the productions it would eventually inspire, but neither is it an entirely negligible work.

Want a second opinion of Rocketship X-M? Visit 1000 Misspent Hours – And Counting.

Click here for some Immortal Dialogue from this film.

    

Personally, I like the subtle sexual symbolism of the Spanish poster best.

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----posted 28/05/2007; re-formatted 15/02/2010