Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Cover Story - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

“Count­down” (1967) The space race was in full swing when Robert Alt­man helmed this un­der­rated drama about an Amer­i­can as­tro­naut hastily launched to­ward the moon so he – and his coun­try – can get there be­fore the Rus­sians. James Caan plays the as­tro­naut in ques­tion, who must ren­dezvous with a space shel­ter if he is to sur­vive. The sur­pris­ingly im­pres­sive cast in­cludes Robert Du­vall, Ted Knight, Joanna Moore and an un­cred­ited Mike Far­rell.

“The Right Stuff” (1983) The U.S. space pro­gram, from Chuck Yea­ger’s break­ing of the sound bar­rier in 1947 to the Mer­cury 7 project and Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s procla­ma­tion to send as­tro­nauts to the moon by the end of the 1960s, is at the cen­ter of Philip Kauf­man’s su­perb his­tor­i­cal drama. There’s lots of space minu­tiea to ab­sorb here, from the lives of the as­tro­nauts in the early days to his­tory-mak­ing mis­sions such as John Glenn’s (Ed Har­ris) or­bit of Earth in the un­pre­dictable Mer­cury-At­las 6 space­craft in 1962. All in all a rous­ing trib­ute to space ex­plo­ration.

“Apollo 13” (1995) While no one ac­tu­ally lands on the moon, it fig­ures heav­ily in the sto­ry­line of Ron Howard’s 1995 clas­sic. Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert (Tom Hanks, Bill Pax­ton, Kevin Ba­con) are headed there on Apollo 13 when an ex­plo­sion of an on­board oxy­gen tank crip­ples the ship and se­verely com­pro­mises their air sup­ply. Much prob­lem solv­ing en­sues as NASA works around the clock to bring the as­tro­nauts back alive while their friends, col­leagues and fam­ily sweat it out on the ground. vAnd look care­fully at the end of the film. That’s the real Lovell as an air­craft car­rier com­man­der, shak­ing hands with Hanks’ Lovell fol­low­ing splash­down.

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