Capricorn One begins with a workable, if cynical cinematic premise: the first manned space flight to Mars was a hoax and the American public was fooled through Hollywood gimmickry into believing that the phony landing happened. But after establishing the concept, Peter Hyams' script asks another audience - the one in the theatre - to accept something far more illogical, the uncovering of the hoax by reporter Elliott Gould.

Capricorn One begins with a workable, if cynical cinematic premise: the first manned space flight to Mars was a hoax and the American public was fooled through Hollywood gimmickry into believing that the phony landing happened. But after establishing the concept, Peter Hyams’ script asks another audience – the one in the theatre – to accept something far more illogical, the uncovering of the hoax by reporter Elliott Gould.

The astronaut trio of James Brolin, Sam Waterston and O.J. Simpson together add up to nothing; there’s no group chemistry. Still, scattershot casting means once in a while you hit and in the final scene Gould and Telly Savalas are teamed. The duo is a bullseye. Savalas, in a delightful cameo as a crop duster hired to help rescue Brolin in the desert and uncover the plot, is a marvelous complement to Gould.

Hal Holbrook plays the mission commander who calls off the Mars shot and engineers the dupe. His character must change from sincere – he believes he’s doing the right thing by fooling the public – to menacing. In general, it is a script of conveniences.

Capricorn One

Production

Lazarus/Associated General. Director Peter Hyams; Producer Paul N. Lazarus III; Screenplay Peter Hyams; Camera Bill Butler; Editor James Mitchell; Music Jerry Goldsmith;; Art Director Albert Brenner

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1978. Running time: 124 MIN.

With

Elliott Gould James Brolin Brenda Vaccaro Sam Waterston O.J. Simpson Hal Holbrook
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