Capricorn One

  • Directors: Peter Hyams
  • Producers: Paul N Lazarus III
  • Writers: Peter Hyams
  • Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterston, O J Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, David Huddleston, David Doyle, James Karen

The setting is the late 1970s, and the first manned mission to Mars is on the launch pad. NASA authorities including Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) realize that a faulty life support system has doomed any chance of a successful flight, so for political and financial purposes they decide to fake the landing rather than cancel the mission.

Minutes before launch, the bewildered crew of Col. Brubaker (James Brolin), Lt. Col. Willis (Sam Waterston), and Cmdr. Walker (O. J. Simpson) are removed from the capsule and flown to an old abandoned United States Army Air Corps base deep within the desert. The televised launch proceeds on schedule, but the public is unaware that the spacecraft (Capricorn One) does not have a crew.

At the remote base, the astronauts are informed they will fake the television footage from Mars and it is their patriotic duty to participate. Initially they refuse, but authorities imply their careers and the lives of their families are at stake if they do not cooperate.

The astronauts remain in captivity for a period of several months and are filmed landing on Mars within a studio located at the base. The conspiracy is known to only a select few NASA officials, until alert technician Elliot Whittier (Robert Walden) stumbles across a bizarre technical anomaly i.e. television transmissions from Mars made by the crew are being received by ground control before the spacecraft telemetry arrives. He is confused by the anomaly and wishes to investigate further, but is told not to worry about it by his employer. Even so, Whittier feels sufficiently uneasy to share his concerns with journalist friend Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) at a local bar, but before Whittier can fully set out his concerns, he mysteriously disappears.

The film ends with Caulfield bringing Brubaker to the astronauts’ memorial service, exposing the conspiracy in dramatic fashion in front of dozens of witnesses and live national television.

Last Chance Harvey

  • Directors: Joel Hopkins
  • Producers: Tim Perell, Nicola Usborne
  • Writers: Joel Hopkins
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker, James Brolin

The film follows in parallel two lonely people: Harvey (Dustin Hoffman) is an American commercial jingle writer, whose dream – long ago given up – was to be a jazz pianist, and whose unpalatable job is in jeopardy. Kate (Emma Thompson) is a single Londoner, cautious about romance after past disappointments, who works at a boring job collecting statistics at Heathrow Airport, and gets frequent calls from her neurotic mother and none from anybody else.

Harvey travels from New York to London for his daughter’s wedding, briefly encountering Kate and rather rudely refusing to fill her questionnaire. His daughter Susan (Liane Balaban) has a strained relationship with him, and when Harvey tells her that he will not be staying for the wedding reception because of work, she informs him that she has chosen to have her stepfather (James Brolin) walk her down the aisle. He attends the ceremony, then attempts to return to New York but misses his plane, then learns at Heathrow that he is being fired from his job. Drowning his sorrows at an airport bar, he meets Kate, initiating a conversation, which leads to lunch and then they stroll alongside the River Thames. They grow close and she convinces him to attend the wedding reception. He agrees, but only if she’ll come with him.

At the reception, Harvey redeems himself with his daughter and Kate begins to fall for him. They walk and talk until sunrise and then make a date to meet again at noon. Harvey is unable to make the meeting, however, and must track Kate down later to try to make amends.