Riders to the Stars (1954)

Pretty decent, low-budget sci-fi film about a group of men first being selected for a dangerous space mission to lasso a meteor in space and return it to Earth so its outer hull can be analyzed. The men are taken through various tests such as patience, constitution, and the ability to not pass out under 12 g’s of gravity. Finally, four men are selected and then we have out “Riders to the Stars.” This film, directed by one of its stars Richard Carlson (of The Creature from the Black Lagoon fame), is rather well-done despite some obvious budgetary problems such as the rockets that move and go in space look more shaky and technologically inept than most clunkers on the road. There is in some instances a heavy use of stock footage – fortunately not over-played in true developmental scenes. I loved the opening credits with its operatic song “Riders to the Stars” and the beautifully painted backdrops, but I do wonder what they really have to do with THIS film. There are no aliens here. The actual time in space in the film is minimal. All that being said, this film has a nice, taut, tense pace and is filled with actors and actresses that know a bit about acting. The head scientist of the whole operation is played by smooth and urbane Herbert Marshall with his voice of command. Marshall looks relaxed in the role but is good nevertheless. The two primary male leads are the aforementioned Carlson and beefcake William Lundigan(as a physicist no less). Both actors are good as is the rest of the cast. The female love interest for Lundigan, a scientist in her own right, is the ever vivacious Martha Hyer. Riders to the Stars isn’t a great sci-fi film in the tradition of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invaders from Mars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing from Another World,This Island Earth, or The War of the Worlds. Again, it is more science than fiction in terms of what its story is about. I think it is more in line with something like the very excellent Destination Moon – a discovery picture as to the human effort to travel to far horizons. It is more interested in the how of space travel, the getting there thinking, and character development than it is in gruesome or bizarre life forms. I tend to like both kinds of sci-fi films from that era, but the viewer that is looking for alien encounters may need to pass. A good, quality effort from the Golden Age of Science Fiction.