Here this month is one
of my favorite movies for some odd reason. I'm talking about Capricorn
One, the 1978 movie that some people
say looks like a TV movie (maybe because two of the stars are billed with
that "special guest star" bit). Many people say this is a sucky film
but when you get past the seventies clothes and dialogue, it is quite timeless
in its possibilities. The Corel All Movie Guide gives it 3 ½
even though there are a lot of hack actors in it, and I agree with that
was directed by Peter Hyams, the dude who directed Running
Scared, the cool flick with Charles
and of course Outland and
both starring the man, Sean Connery. The two top billed characters
are immensely sucky actors. First you got Elliott Gould, whose only
good performance was in M*A*S*H
and considering that the film was good because it was an ensemble cast,
his performance isn't that great. The other no talent hack is James
Brolin, the dude who is dating the most overrated singer in the world,
Barbara Streisand. Did you know he does commercials for AAMCO.
Pretty sad huh. But wait, it gets better (or worse).
Juice! O.J. Simpson is in this film. Now I don't give a crap about
the bloody glove and all that junk. He was in this film, and if you
weren't aware of it he was also in the Towering
Inferno. In addition to that
bonus, you got Hal Holbrook, who played the crooked Lt. Briggs in Magnum
Forge and gave an outstanding performance
as Father Malone in John Carpenters The
Fog. Also you can't forget Telly
Savalas, whose role in Kelly's
Heroes is the only thing that keeps
me from wanting to have him killed.
the chick category, there are two. One is Karen Black, the chick
who is tight with Elliot Gould's character and I mention her only because
she was in the remake of Invaders
From Mars as well as Airport
75. The other chick is Brenda
Vacarro, you know the chick who does those tampon commercials. Oh
and she was in Airport 77.
So lets get down to it.
start at Cape Canaveral where they are preparing to launch the first manned
mission to mars. We get the gratuitous scene where the launch pad
guy gives the three astronauts a bible and they trade a few
remarks. Then we cut to a scene in the viewing stands where there
is some political sniping between the Vice President and some Congressman
who is with a woman other than his wife. But with a little over 5
minutes left before launch, some suit hustles them out of the capsule and
into a helicopter, mission control unaware. But the countdown continues.
What the hell is up?
they are whisked away in a Lear jet and the rocket launches . . .
and here's the sinker. There are voices responding from the capsule
as if people were inside. A hoax! Why would NASA do this?
The launch went smoothly, no Challenger action. And what the hell
is the guy who played Rossi on Lou Grant doing at a console?
One of the things I like about this movie is
the mission status chatter that takes place while other actions are going
on. Nice touch to add to the feel that the whole thing is a sham.
Any way, our three astronauts land at an abandoned airfield, but on the
inside it's shiny and modern. In walks Hal Holbrook, the NASA chairman.
He gives them the speech about the good times and the glory days, and that
how now people bitch about missing reruns because of launches. Ironically
the only reason so many people saw the Challenger explosion while it happened
was because they had a civilian teach there to jack up the ratings.
Anything to sell more Pepsi. Then he goes on about the cost, etcetera,
etcetera. And that another screw-up in the program, would mean the end
of it all. This flick is obviously loosely based on the urban legend
that the original moon landing was a hoax. The methods of faking the landing
are similar: a sound stage in the middle of a desert with a realistic dust-and-rock
landscape, a mock landing module, and filming the astronauts in slow motion
to simulate lesser gravity
what, they had a screw-up
and the life support system on the capsule wouldn't have kept the astronauts
alive. So they cooked up a plan to fake it all, including a fake
Martian landscape and capsule. The gimmick is to pretend they did
it so the program doesn't get canceled, if they cooperate. Some more
morality yapping ensues, but this is integral to developing the motivations
of the characters. Brolin immediately is against it because of his
higher moral standards. They are going to bail until Hal threatens
their families. That has to be the way because no American would
sell out his moral values to keep his job . . . nah.
Cut to a couple days later where Elliot Gould,
the reporter who is trying to pick up on this chick (Karen Black).
Then we meet Brenda Vacarro, Brubaker's wife. You know, the more
I look at her, the more she reminds me of a California Pitted Prune®.
Oh and did I mention that the dude who played Rossi has found some discrepancies
in the telemetry and shows it to his supervisor. Then they reach
the point where they fake the landing on audio, and Rossi is still sniffing
the telemetry problem. This time he reports it to Hal Holbrook, I'm
telling you, this dude is a dead puppy. Then we see the fake EVA
scene including this long winded speech from the "president", and did
ever call it right.
strange coincidence that Elliot Gould happens to know the telemetry dude
and while they are playing pool, he spills that he suspects something is
wrong. At the warehouse, the astronauts debate weather they can live
with their acts. Hey idiots, they threatened your families, I think
you can live with it. Looks like they are wanting to bolt.
Then they throw them a bone/threat by staging this long distance space
call. To be blunt, this is the directors attempt to add some content
to the characters. Brubaker plays secret word games with his wife
and things get fishier. Oh
and it is obvious that the government has put the zap on the telemetry
dude, and Elliot Gould is on the trail. He nearly dies in one of
those "they tampered with the brakes and he can't stop" scenes. Sad
part is that it is so blatant that they simply sped up the camera.
Man, pissed off scientists can play hardball when their funding is threatened.
The reporter survives but his polyester suit is ruined.
we come to the part of the movie that is not clear in its intention.
The astronauts are being flown to the recovery site, as planned, but the
heat shield on the re-entry vehicle breaks and the end result is if the
astronauts were in the capsule, they would be dead on splash down.
Now they do not say weather it is planned or not. I tend to go with
the theory that it wasn't planned because Hal Holbrook looks sincerely
surprised by this and really distraught over his next course of action.
you guessed it, the astronauts must die. The same ending I was hoping
for in that flick Apollo
its back to the desert warehouse. The astronauts suspect something
went wrong and assume that they are dead and that their lives aren't worth
a shit. Now
granted James Brolin's life was never worth a shit anyway, but this is
in the time before the Juice became a murderer beyond murdering lines.
So they escape and steal the Lear jet. This should be the end of
the movie but the tape says 123 minutes so relax, and so comes plot convenience
theater in the form of the plane being out of fuel. We're in for
some dead men on the run in the desert footage because they decided to
split up. Within 20 minutes of escaping, Brubaker is already tearing
his clothes up and disguising himself as a Japanese Kamikaze pilot.
the reporter is still sleuthing and sees something odd from the "talk to
the wives" footage. He goes to Brenda Vacarro who spends her time
trying to teach her seven or eight year old child how to read stories that
a Kindergartner could read. Then he goes to the place Brubaker vacationed
and someone shoots at him, unfortunately they miss. The astronauts
are being chased by two Bell Jet Rangers with rocket pods strapped to them,
you know, the kind of helicopter that was Airwolf fodder. Brubaker
eludes them by hiding under the dirt but the dumb ass loses his gun.
OJ is the first to get killed, and they don't
even try for the "Jim Brown running for his life" bit like in the Dirty
Dozen. Kind of a let down
if you ask me. The reporter is back asking questions and now suspects
that the whole deal is a hoax. Then Willis (Sam Waterston) gets smoked.
This couldn't have come soon enough because he was always telling stupid
jokes. I wanted to see him shot before the even escaped. Brubaker
kills a snake with a rock and has to eat it. Mmmm. The reporter
gets arrested on a trumped up charge, then fired so he takes the chicks
car and heads for an abandoned Air Force base on a hunch. He finds
the warehouse and a necklace once worn by Brubaker. He's not such
an idiot after all. So he charters a plane from a crop duster owned
by Telly Savalas, so maybe he is an idiot. We have to sit
through an annoying bartering session. Soon, they are off, the reporter
assuming that Brubaker is on the run in the desert.
Brubaker finds a closed gas station and tries
to make a call home, but his wife and family are on their way to the state
funeral. The plane spots the helicopters who are heading for the
gas station, and they follow as well. In the only action scene in
the entire film, one pilot gets his ass whooped by Brubaker with a tire
iron and then makes a mad dash for the crop dusting plane. Stand
by for an aerial chase sequence. A poorly shot aerial sequence with
some of the oldest "they have guns and we don't" gimmicks ever thought
of being used. The chase culminates in the old "empty the crop dusting
tanks so the pilots slam into the mountain" gag. Ironic that when
the helicopters impact the mountain, the molecular structure of the material used to build
them changes from steel and fiberglass to wood . . . even the rotors.
It was a really long chase for little gain.
And then the movie is
Well almost. It
ends 2 minutes and 53 seconds after the helicopters are destroyed with
Brubaker interrupting his own funeral held by the President . . . and like
30 seconds of that time is shot in slow motion. There is absolutely
no attempt to address the fall-out of this whole affair. I felt more
ripped off than I did at the end of Clear
and Present Danger. In the end however, it is not
a bad film to check out, if not to see OJ in one of his better roles.
I mean its better than anything starring Julia Roberts of Leonardo DiCaprio.
To The GDI Video Vault