Saturday 1 May 2010

Capricorn One

Really good conspiracy thrillers are not common. One of my favourites is The Parallax View, but I also like Capricorn One, which I’ve just watched again, after such a long gap that I’d forgotten most of the detail of the story.

The idea is very appealing. NASA is about to send a rocket to Mars for a manned landing. But just before take-off, the astronauts are taken away to a secret hideaway, although the rocket goes off into space and the watching world is led to believe that the astronauts are on board. The explanation is that, due to an equipment malfunction, the trip became unsafe, but the authorities (led by the apparently pleasant but in truth fanatical Hal Holbrook) are determined to fake a landing on the Red Planet.

Elliot Gould plays a reporter who gets wind that something is amiss with Capricorn One, and although there are various (rather sporadic, I have to say) attempts to silence him, he pursues the truth against the odds. Meanwhile, the hoax goes wrong when the rocket crashes on its return to Earth – so the astronauts (with James Brolin to the fore) have to be dispensed with. They escape, but only into the unforgiving desert.

The action sequences in the film are terrific, and Peter Hyams, the director, ensures the story moves along with gusto, so that one is inclined to forgive most if not all of the implausibilities in the plot – after all, how many thrillers are totally plausible in every respect?

One bit of trivia that intrigued me – the two stars, Gould and Brolin, have both been married to Barbra Streisand.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Oh, how funny you would mention that movie! I first saw Capricorn One on a date years ago when it first came out, and hadn't thought of it for a long time. I agree that's an enjoyable conspiracy theory movie, if implausible.

Minnie said...

Interesting review, Martin. I'd forgotten that film - lovely performance by Elliott Gould (& Hal Holbrook an excellent, unusually subtle American film actor). Peter Hyams a Brit?
'The Parallax View' was frightening - real sense of claustrophobia, with the bad 'uns closing in! Contained a rare good perf from Warren Beatty, also (mostly a plank, IMHO ... ;-)!).

mybillcrider said...

I seem to remember that the critics weren't kind to this movie, but I thought it was a lot of fun.

Deb said...

Don't forget this was one of the movies that O.J. Simpson was in when he was trying for an acting career. If I recall, the old movie adage "the brother always gets it first" was in play here and O.J. got bumped off relatively early in the proceedings.

"The Parallax View" seemed utterly believable to me at the time (it was in the mid-1970s and I was in my teens). I saw it a few months back on TCM and it seemed a little too paranoid--and I was surprised at how dark, almost grungy, the lighting was.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, I hope mentioning the film brought back happy memories!
Minnie - I'm not really a Beatty fan either, but I agree,he was great in that film.
Bill, I agree, it's worn well, like quite a number of films the critics didn't care for.
Deb - yes, good points!