Space-Men (a.k.a. Assignment: Outer Space in the United States) is a 1960 Italian science fiction film directed by Antonio Margheriti. The film stars Rik Van Nutter and co-stars Gabriella Farinon, David Montresor, Archie Savage, and Alain Dijon. The film was released in the United States in 1961 by American International Pictures.
Italian Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antonio Margheriti|
|Music by||Lelio Luttazzi|
Space-Men's storyline recounts a mission in the 22nd century aboard an orbiting space station. The mission involves a risky effort by its crew to redirect a malfunctioning spaceship that threatens to destroy the Earth.
In 2116, Interplanetary Chronicle of New York reporter Ray Peterson (Rik Van Nutter), launches aboard spaceship Bravo Zulu 88, joining the crew of an orbiting space station. Peterson is assigned to write a story about the "infra-radiation flux in Galaxy M12", but soon tension develops between Peterson and the station commander (David Montresor). He believes the reporter is in the way, calling him a "leech", but he has orders to not interfere with Peterson. A complication arises when Lucy (Gabriella Farinon), the station botanist and navigator, becomes attracted to both the commander and Peterson.
When the errant Spaceship Alpha Two enters the inner solar system, its photon generators are radiating enough heat to destroy the Earth. In efforts to intercept Alpha Two, crew members Sullivan (Franco Fantasia) and space station pilot Al (Archie Savage) sacrifice themselves in separate but futile attempts to destroy the dangerous spaceship with missiles.
With both crew members now dying from their attempts, Peterson uses Space Taxi B91 to get aboard the errant spaceship. His goal: to disarm Alpha Two's photon generators. Once inside, he is directed to disable the spaceship's computers and shut down all power sources. He soon finds himself trapped inside when the emergency hatch is also disabled by the power loss.
Despite orders from the high command not to intervene, the commander and his assistant disobey and attempt to intercept the out-of-control Alpha Two and rescue Peterson. They are finally able to reach the reporter as he is collapsing and bring him back safely. With Alpha Two now safely redirected away from the Earth, Peterson wins Lucy's affection and the commander's respect for his heroic actions.
- Rik Van Nutter as Ray Peterson (IZ41)
- Gabriella Farinon as Lucy (Y13) (credited as Gaby Farinon in Assignment: Outer Space)
- David Montresor as George the Commander
- Archie Savage as Al (X15)
- Alain Dijon as Archie (Y16)
- Franco Fantasia as Sullivan
- Joe Pollini as King 116
- David Maran as Davis
- José Néstor as Venus Commander
- Anita Todesco as Venus Control
- Aldo Pini as Jacson
Antonio Margheriti had read science fiction comic books since a young age, and when offered the chance to direct a science fiction film, he immediately seized the opportunity. Space-Men was Margheriti's first full directoral effort. He went on to direct 55 films.
Space-Men's script was written by Margheriti and Ennio De Concini.. The film was shot at the same time director Mario Bava was filming Black Sunday on a sound stage next door. Margheriti also took over the studio with the miniatures work featured in the film's outer space segments.
Space-Men was distributed by Titanus and opened in Rome in August 1960. The film was re-titled Assignment: Outer Space for its release and opened in San Diego on December 13, 1961.
In Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction: Complete Film Source Book (1984), Space-Men was described as "... not one of Margheriti's best, the narrative line is unclear and jerky" while also noting that "its visual splendours are ample compensation".
- The film describes automatic functions on the spaceships being controlled by an "electric brain" or "electronic brain", using both terms interchangeably.
- "Space Men" (Italian). Archivio del cinema Italiano. Retrieved: 4 August 2015.
- ""Assignment: Outer Space."". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
- Hardy 1984, p. 203.
- Fischer 2011, p. 423.
- Paul 2004, p. 159.
- Lucas, Tim. "Commentary by Tim Lucas (time: 4:38)". Blu-ray: 'Black Sunday' FCD756, Arrow Films, 2013.
- Fischer, Dennis. Science Fiction Film Directors, 1895-1998. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2011. ISBN 0786485051.
- Hardy, Phil (ed.). Science Fiction: The Complete Film Sourcebook. New York: Morrow, 1984. ISBN 0-688-00842-9.
- Paul, Louis. Italian Horror Film Directors. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7864-8749-3.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties (covers films released through 1962), 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.