Menu Close

The Best SF Movie I Never Saw

Dream of the Stars Space PlatfromNothing produced the delicious frisson of excitement more than a good ‘Bug” movie of the 1950’s. “Them!” “Tarantula.” “The Deadly Mantis.” Nothing thrilled me as a kid, smell of popcorn and butter in my nostrils, sticky unnamable blob-like substance clinging to the soles of my shoes, than Bradbury’s infamous Rhedosaurus, “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” snacking on a cop in two short bites. “Reptilicus” taking down the Danish parliament. “The Giant Behemoth” battling Big Ben. Nothing frightened me to the roots more than the swelling brass crescendo and the water obscured first view of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

But nothing inspired me more than the very few “serious” space travel movies of the same era. Especially the one I never saw. First a word about the ones shown in our universe.

“Destination Moon” scripted by Robert A Heinlein and “Rip” Van Ronkel, art by Chesley Bonestell, cartoon by Walter Lantz, musical score by Leith Stevens, a George Pal full color spectacular, is considered by most to be as boring as the television coverage of the Apollo Space Program. I considered it to be one of the highlights of my early movie viewing. I, to this day, make that trip to the moon so frequently that my bright, orange spacesuit chrome neck brace is becoming pitted from space dust.

“The Conquest of Space,” although more exciting than “Destination Moon” has a complication about the first religious militant in extraterrestrial space which exhibits a lack of characterization. Seems a mere plot reason for the strife on the first Red Plant expedition.

“Rocketship XM has some laughable science. “When Worlds Collide” barely escapes the planet earth and makes me long for the sequel, “After Worlds Collide,” ripe with Nazi collision. “Riders to the Stars” with William Lundigan, at least, spawned a forgotten but quite good TV series, “Men Into Space.” There are more, “The First Man in Space”, but there is a deep decline into monster blood letting with each mention.

My father had a back office in the basement of our house. I took it over. Set quite a library on the back ledge of the steel desk. Among the volumes was a copy of a paperback digest  put out by Fawcett with the wonky title “The Complete Book of Outer Space.” It was a bible to me. Articles by Willy Ley, Wernher von Braun, Heinz Haber, Hugo Gernsback,  Donald H Menzel and others. On one of the pages, mid-book was the image that you see above. With the blurb announcing a new movie about outer space. An odyssey through the solar system. I scanned the periodicals and newspapers of the day and waited for the trailer to appear in movie houses. Zilch!

One day, some thirty years ago, I was browsing at The Tucker’s bookstore in Squirrel Hill and came across a hardback copy of “The Complete Book of Outer Space.”  I quickly purchased my find. Several pages later over a coffee and a crust, my desire to find “Dream of the Stars” was rekindled. Never to be satisfied.

Until an article I came across this early morning as I write, on the website io9 by penned by Ron Miller. (

I have long admired Ron Miller for his book “The Dream Machines” and a collection of books he assembled published by Baen Digital chronicling the idea space travel throughout science fiction history. I like him even more now I know he had the same passion for discovering the fate of the movie.

Turns out there never was a movie. There was nothing more than a dream of a movie. No script, no money, no green light, It was a series of photos of tabletop dioramas created by Morris Scott Dollens ( and

I know, in some bubble, one or two parallels over, I watched, enjoyed and was influenced by “Dream of the Stars” as much as I was “Destination Moon.” Sic Iter Ad Astra.