Marooned

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MAROONED—after five months in space, a three-man NASA team (Richard Crenna, James Franciscus and Gene Hackman) find they are up the proverbial creek when their retro-rockets won’t function. Back on Earth, Gregory Peck and David Janssen try to handle the rescue mission and the public reaction, while the wives of the trio fret, pace and whimper as played by Lee Grant, Nancy Kovack and Mariette Hartley.

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This was much ballyhooed when released in 1969, due to the millions spent on the special effects, but after the quantum leaps made since, they now seem merely TV-adequate (old TV).  The movie also had the bad luck to come out on the heels of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it just couldn’t evoke any of the Kubrickian awe. It didn’t help to have MAD magazine do one of its more famous lampoons–“Moroned”. Marooned-Crew

Passive in the action department (even though directed by John Sturges), what we get is tension instead of movement, but most of the tension is mitigated by the excessive running time (134 minutes) and the obligatory scenes of wifely torment back on the ground. Of the three gals, only Lee Grant makes any kind of impression. Peck and Janssen are okay, no more. As to the three marooned men in the capsule, Crenna comes off best, Hackman is always worth watching, Franciscus is adequate.grant_2

The background matte-shots of the home planet are pretty, but whether you’ll stick around for the finale will depend on your patience quotient. A well-intentioned bore, it was an Oscar winner for Visual Effects, nominated for Cinematography and Sound. Reviews were mixed, and returns of $4,100,000 were little consolation for a $9,000,000 budget. With Scott Brady.

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