Rocket to the Moon (1967) starring Burl Ives, Troy Donahue, Gert Frbe, Lionel Jeffries, Dennis Price, Daliah Lavi, Graham Stark, Terry-Thomas, Judy Cornwell directed by Don Sharp Movie Review

Rocket to the Moon (1967)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Daliah Lavi, Edward de Souza and Troy Donahue in Rocket to the Moon (1967) (aka: Those Fantastic Flying Fools)

It's a Rocky Rocket

Watching "Rocket to the Moon" or "Those Fantastic Flying Fools" a few things came to mind but the main one was that it just doesn't work. You see "Rocket to the Moon" aimed to be one of those comedies such as "Monte Carlo or Bust" with lots of amusing characters, even more amusing contraptions and some skulduggery. Yet despite having an impressive cast which included Lionel Jeffries, Gert Fröbe, Terry-Thomas and Graham Stark it never comes together and ends up feeling incredibly bitty. In truth there are a lot of amusing ideas and characters but it lacks energy and flow to make it the riot of laughs it is so desperately trying to be.

After bankrupted by a fire the great showman Phineas T. Barnum (Burl Ives) is invited to Queen Victoria's Britain where he is to head up a committee of inventors planning to send a rocket to the moon. Amongst those inventors are explosives expert Professor Siegfried von Bulow (Gert Fröbe) and engineer Sir Charles Dillworthy (Lionel Jeffries). But also involved is the unscrupulous Captain Sir Harry Washington-Smythe (Terry-Thomas) who with the help of Dillworthy plans to sabotage the mission to the moon and steal all the money which has been raised.

Judy Cornwell and Graham Stark in Rocket to the Moon (1967) (aka: Those Fantastic Flying Fools)

On paper "Rocket to the Moon" should work, it has a cast that features many that had already appeared in this sort of farcical comedy and with it being derived from Jules Verne's writings should have a wonderful creativity. But it just doesn't work, not that it is terrible but it constantly fails to spark into life. The trouble is that it is too over the place, going from one character to another to deliver a joke then meandering on to the next. And that is the other thing it is missing, energy, it just meanders along lacking the zip which this sort of farce desperately needs to succeed.

It is a shame because visually "Rocket to the Moon" has the look and there are some grand recreations of Queen Victoria's Britain which are quite humorous such as the collapsing bridge. There are some amusing ideas such as Harry's car which runs on gas which he steals from street lamps when ever he runs out. But in between these genuinely amusing scenes there are a lot of scenes which never deliver anything more than just a smile due to some tame whimsy.

One thing you can't blame is the cast or at least the majority of them because the likes of Lionel Jeffries, Gert Fröbe, Terry-Thomas and Graham Stark were all perfectly adept at this sort of comedy and deliver their parts well. And the various attractive women such as Daliah Lavi and Judy Cornwell all play their parts exactly as intended, attractive, in Lavi's case sexy and amusing especially when it comes to Judy Cornwell. The only real misfire is Troy Donahue as Gaylord Sullivan who really looks like he doesn't know how to deal with this sort of whimsical comedy.

What this all boils down to is that "Rocket to the Moon" is a movie with some good ideas, some fun scenes and a good cast but unfortunately it never comes together to make a constantly amusing movie.


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