Satellite in the Sky

Satellite in the Sky is a 1956 British CinemaScope science fiction film in Warner Color, produced by Edward J. Danziger and Harry Lee Danziger, directed by Paul Dickson, and starring Kieron Moore, Lois Maxwell, Donald Wolfit, and Bryan Forbes. The film was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Special effects were by Wally Veevers, who would later work on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).[Note 1][2] [Note 2]

Satellite in the Sky
Directed byPaul Dickson
Produced byEdward J. Danziger
Harry Lee Danziger
Written byJohn Mather
J.T. McIntosh
Edith Dell
StarringKieron Moore
Lois Maxwell
Donald Wolfit
Bryan Forbes
Music byAlbert Elms
CinematographyGeorges Périnal
James Wilson
Edited bySidney Stone
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
21 July 1956
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


After initial experiments using high-speed aircraft, scientists in Great Britain create the "Stardust", the first manned spaceship to orbit the Earth. Some of the crew members have concerned loved ones. Barbara (Thea Gregory), the wife of Larry Noble (Jimmy Hanley), and Ellen (Shirley Lawrence), the girlfriend of radio operator Jimmy Wheeler (Bryan Forbes), are afraid that the space flight will be dangerous.

Although the crew, headed by Commander Michael Haydon (Kieron Moore), initially believe they are on a scientific mission, the scientist on board, Professor Merrity (Donald Wolfit), is really working for the United States to test an experimental nuclear "Tritonium Bomb". The object is to use the explosion to persuade nations to abandon nuclear weapons.

Complications arise when Haydon discovers a stowaway. Troublesome reporter Kim Hamilton (Lois Maxwell) also opposes the mission as a reckless and unnecessary use of space flight, and has hidden aboard to disrupt the mission.

The Tritonium Bomb is to be released into space, but when its propulsion unit fails and the bomb has attached itself to the hull of the spaceship, everyone's life is threatened. The crew and their unwanted guest race against time to defuse or destroy the bomb.



Satellite in the Sky was the first British science fiction film to be shot in Cinemascope and WarnerColor. Footage of the Avro Vulcan[Note 3] and the Folland Midge, the prototype for the later Folland Gnat aircraft series, was featured in the beginning of the film, as scientists push the envelope of high-speed flight and test exotic rocket fuels. The Midge portrays a fictional jet fighter used to test an experimental fuel. Wally Veevers' extensive model work with miniatures and matte paintings is notable. The model rocket looks futuristic, though a familiar period design, using a long, angled ramp (à la When Worlds Collide) to launch the rocket into space.[2]


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times described the weakness in the plot: "the trouble with this film is that it makes space travel so simple that it is without surprise or kick."[3]

Film critic Leonard Maltin called Satellite in the Sky "elaborate but unexciting."[4] The review in Video Movie Guide 2002 called it a "Tedious sci-fi adventure memorable for a fun performance by Donald Wolfit as the bomb's eccentric inventor."[5]

See also



  1. Walter Joseph "Wally" Veevers had a long career in special effects that began with Things to Come (1936) and ended with The Keep (1983).[1]
  2. Lois Maxwell would later gain fame playing Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond series of films.[2]
  3. The second Avro Vulcan B.1, XA890 appeared in the film.


  1. "Wally Veevers." British FIlm Institute (BFI). Retrieved: 17 May 2015.
  2. Miler, Frank. "Articles: 'Satellite in the Sky'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 16 May 2015.
  3. Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review: 'Satellite in the Sky' (1956); The Screen; 'Satellite in the Sky' lands at the Globe." The New York Times, 4 September 1956.
  4. Maltin, Leonard. "Leonard Maltin movie Review: 'Satellite in the Sky'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 16 May 2015.
  5. Martin and Porter 2002, p. 462.


  • Martin, Mick and Marsha Porter. Video Movie Guide 2002. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002. ISBN 0-345-42100-0.
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