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PCR #392 (Vol. 8, No. 39) This edition is for the week of September 24--30, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"In The Shadow of the Moon"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"In The Shadow of the Moon"  by Mike Smith
Book Review: Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow  by Lisa Ciurro
DVD Review: "Underdog: The Ultimate Collection Volume 1"  by ED Tucker
Goals, Part 2  by Corey Castellano
Renaissance Night and The Demzarah Gypsy Show  by Andy Lalino
Happy Birthday .... Can't Wait .... Barry Bonds .... If A Mime Dies Does He Make A Sound? .... Look Out Ronnie .... Extra, Extra .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 29: Next Week  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan and Michael Collins
Directed by: David Sington
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 40 mins

If I mention the date July 20, 1969, what is the first thing you think of? Music fans may remember the date as the day R & B vocalist Roy Hamilton passed away. If you’re Jimmy Buffet, you remember the date well because you went and got married that day. Me? I remember spending the day at my Aunt Barbara’s house with the rest of the family watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. In the almost 40 years since then, a total of twelve men have walked on the lunar surface. Two of them, Pete Conrad and Alan Shepard, are dead. Filmmaker David Sington, with the help of Ron Howard, managed to gather eight of the remaining astronauts to give an inside look at the missions they undertook and the sacrifices they made to achieve their goals.

It all started with Sputnik. With the launch of the Russian sattelite, the Soviet Union fired the first shot in the battle for space travel with the United States. In early1961, Yuri Gregarian became the first man in space. A few months later, Alan Shepard became number two. As the two countries worked towards the exploration of space, the stakes became higher and higher. In 1967, Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee and Ed White perished in a fire while preparing for the flight of Apollo 1. Now, two years and nine missions later, Astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were about to become the only people in the world to see an “Earth Rise” from the depths of space.

It’s amazing to find out all of the little things it took to make our space program a success. While still in its infancy, President Kennedy laid down the gauntlet that this country would put men on the moon before 1970. A true rivalry between our country and Russia grew stronger with each setback and success. Thankfully, the men who agreed to be interviewed for this film recall every minute leading up to and following their adventures, and they gladly share them here.

As the race grew close, I was stunned to learn that Gus Grissom had commented to fellow astronauts about the faulty wiring used in the first lunar module. When asked why he wouldn’t say anything to NASA, Grissom told fellow astronauts that NASAS would “fire him” if he spoke up. During the last days of 1969, this country was firmly embroiled in the war in Vietnam. Several of the astronauts felt that they were letting their fellow pilots down by not flying missions in South East Asia. These stories and more make for an entertaining and informative film that reveals so much about an event you think you already know about. The archival footage and interviews help explain the pressure everyone involved was felt, where failure was not an option lest we fall behind the dreaded Russians. Among the more incredible discoveries here was a taped “speech” to the nation from Richard Nixon that was to be aired if the Apollo 11 crew was not able to lift off from the moon. Talk about covering your butts.

The only piece missing here is Armstrong, who is notoriously reclusive and declined to participate in this project. However, there is a great clip from the game show “I’ve Got a Secret” which features Armstrong’s parents on the day he was named an astronaut. The host asks Mrs. Armstrong what she would say should her boy become the first man to walk on the moon. Her answer, and the response from the audience, is worth the price of a ticket alone! On a scale of zero to four stars, I give “In The Shadow of the Moon”

This week's movie review of "In The Shadow of the Moon" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.