A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview
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The Lost Missile (1958)

Rating: * Threat: Heat from a runaway missile

United Artists. Written by John McPartland & Jerome Bixby based on a story by Lester William Berke; Photographed by Kenneth Peach; Special effects by Jack R. Glass; Edited by Everett Sutherland; Music by Gerald Fried; Produced by Lee Gordon & William Berke; Directed by William Berke & Lester William Berke. B & W, 70 minutes.


Robert Loggia (Dr. David Loring, Havenbrook scientist); Ellen Parker (Joan Woods, his assistant and fiancée); Phillip Pine (Dr. Joe Freed, Havenbrook scientist); Marilee Earle (Ella, Joe's pregnant wife); Kitty Kelly (Ella's mother); Larry Kerr (Gen. Barr, head of Havenbrook Nuclear Laboratory); Bill Bradley (Bill Bradley, television announcer); Selmer Jackson (U.S. secretary of state); Thomas E. Jackson (mayor of New York City); J. Anthony Hughes (governor of New York); Fred Engelberg (TV folk singer); Joe Hyams (Young, reporter); Peggy Stewart (mother outside schoolbus); Stanley Fafara (blond student in schoolbus); Lawrence Dobkin (narrator); Hari Rhodes, Robert Busch, Myron Cook, Mark Dunhill, Cecil Elliott, Viola Harris, Jack Holland, John McNamara, Don Pethley, Shirley Shawn, Mike Steele.


This poverty row-film had a novel viewpoint, depicting a mysterious, runaway missile from outer space that posed an unintended threat to humankind. Unfortunately, the fifty-five-year-old producer and director of the film, William Berke, had a heart attack and died during the first day of production, a tragic development from which the film never recovered. His son, Lester William Berke, upon whose idea the film was based, stepped in to complete the shooting, which only lasted a week. The end product seemed more like a minimalist sketch of a motion picture than a legitimate film, but since the underlying concept is so unique, The Lost Missile does have moments of genuine interest, even if much of its potential is unrealized.

The opening credits show a missile from deep space approaching the earth. It comes in over the Soviet Union, and an explosion from one of their defensive missiles knocks it into a perpetual orbit. At first, the Soviets plan to launch an attack on America, suspecting the missile is of American origin, but data from their computer reveals that the missile is actually of extraterrestrial origin. Since the missile projects enormous temperatures in its wake, it scorches and destroys everything below as it passes. All life will be eliminated as the missile's shifting orbit will eventually reach every part of the earth, down to the very last


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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
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