Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Mouse on the Moon (1963)

The Mouse on the Moon is the 1963 British film adaptation of the novel by Leonard Wibberley and the sequel to The Mouse that Roared. In this one, the people of Grand Fenwick, an independent micro state within England, take themselves off to the moon in a rocket propelled by exploding wine.
Rather than being a farce, though, the film is actually a sly satire on the space race and the cold war.
Following the discovery that it’s only export has a tendency to combust, the Prime Minister of Grand Fenwick asks the American Government for financial support but rather than telling them the truth he says it is to fund Grand Fenrick’s space program.
Little believing that the duchy’s attempts will amount to very much, they give them the money and more, for the positive publicity of the act.  Not to be outdone in the propaganda stakes, the Russians respond by gifting them an old rocket.
The PM’s plan is to explode the rocket on launch, thus hiding the fact that most of the funds have been spent on updating the plumbing of Grand Fenwick.  It's to this end that Professor Kokintz, the local scientist, is charged with setting up the pyrotechnic display.  However once Kokintz hooks up with Vincent Mountjoy, the Prime Minister’s son, and discovers that he has aspirations of becoming an astronaut, the two of them plan to make the rocket space worthy and genuinely set their sights on getting to the moon.
Which is why, on the launch day, before delegates from America, Russia and Britain, the rocket unexpectedly ascends into the heavens to begin its three week trip to the moon.
Potentially humiliated, the Super Powers are then forced to rush their own space programs forward, intending to still win this very literal space race with their faster ships.
Unfortunately for them, Kokintz and Vincent arrive much quicker than anticipated and are on hand to greet both the superpowers upon their arrival, even inviting them back to their ship for tea to discuss who gets to claim ownership of the moon
Realising that the real victory will actually be in whoever returns home first, the Americans and Soviets both race back to their ships only to end up burying themselves into the deep lunar dust in their haste.  And so when Kokintz and Vincent return to Grand Fenwick during their own memorial service, it's with the hitch-hiking astronauts from  the other two countries.
I remember watching this one years ago and being entertained by the silliness without actually being old enough to understand what it was saying.  I would love to see it again now but it seems to have become somewhat of a forgotten classic.


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