A perfect popcorn movie with a great cast, 1977's CAPRICORN ONE spins a fast and enjoyable tale that never stops moving.
The film opens as Capricorn One, the first manned mission to Mars sits on the launch pad. The three man crew Brubaker (James Brolin), Willis (Sam Waterston) and Walker (OJ Simpson) are surprised when five minutes before the launch, they are secreted away from the capsule via lear jet to a secret location in the desert.
NASA lead Dr. Kellaway (Hal Holbrook at his intimidating best) shares with the crew that the life support system on the flight would not have kept them alive and rather than scrap the mission and jeopardize NASA's future, they are faking the mission.
What follows is a terrifically enjoyable summer flick for anytime of the year. As the crew plays along under threats, a NASA scientist with questions (Robert Walden) and his intrepid reporter friend Robert Caulfield (Elliot Gould) begin to sniff around something that isn't quite right with the mission.
The year long ruse around the mission is further complicated when the spacecraft experiences problems upon re-entry, making our three crewmen realize that their lives are now truly expendable.
Brolin, Waterston, Holbrook and Brenda Vaccaro are all terrific. James Karen as the Vice President, David Huddleston as a NASA leader and Telly Savalas as a desert crop duster pilot bear special mention for some great humor to even out the tension.
Director Peter Hyams spent the seventies and eighties cranking out relaiable, lightweight, great nights at the movies, including "2010", "Running Scared" and "Outland".
Capricorn One is one of his best.
I don't know how The Juice kept getting movie parts, but this is one of his biggest and his acting talent is minuscule. Poor Waterston and Brolin, it's like playing off a cardboard cutout!
Jerry Goldsmith provides one of his best music scores from the opening frames to the final shot.
Like many great popcorn movies, you can't apply TOO much logic or the seams start showing, but when you are having this much fun, who cares!
Capricorn One blasts off with an A.