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.

The Dirty Dozen

  • Directors: Robert Aldrich
  • Producers: Kenneth Hyman
  • Writers: Novel, E M Nathanson, Screenplay, Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, George Kennedy, Trini Lopez, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Robert Webber

In England, in the spring of 1944, Allied forces are preparing for the D-Day invasion. Among them are Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin), an OSS officer; his commander, Regular Army Major General Worden (Ernest Borgnine), and his former commander Colonel Everett Dasher Breed (Robert Ryan). Early in the film the personalities of the three men are shown to clash and the character of the individualistic Reisman and the domineering Breed is established.

Major Reisman is assigned an unusual and top-secret pre-invasion mission: take twelve American soldiers convicted of capital offenses, either serving sentences of hard labor or awaiting execution, and whip them into a unit capable of carrying out the task. The plan, as described, is to infiltrate a château near Rennes, in Brittany, used as a retreat for senior Wehrmacht officers, on the eve of the invasion. Without having complete intelligence as to the identity of the guests, it was felt that the elimination of officers in the German high command or senior staff could cripple or confuse the German military’s ability to respond at the time of crisis. It is quickly established that both Reisman and the generals with whom he frequently clashes consider the mission to be a suicidal long shot.

The film concludes in a hospital room where Sgt Bowren on crutches is shown visiting Reisman and Wladislaw who are bedridden with broken bones and other serious wounds received in the battle. They are visited by the general officers, their former tormentors who sent them on this suicide mission who now have nothing but smiles and praise for the survivors. Wladislaw is heard to mutter “Oh boy… killing generals could get to be a habit with me”.