The Lost Missile (1958)

The world is one minute away from the start of a hydrogen war.

I had never heard of this film. One day it popped up on a list of DVDs I might like on I read the review in Bill Warren’s “Keep Watching the Skies” (which I like), and ordered a DVD of The Lost Missile. The print is crappy and appears to have been copied from a videotape copy potentially derived from a 16mm print. However, I like the film a lot and recommend it to 50’s sci-fi completists and fans of cold war drama. It’s different —it’s a Canadian-U.S. production, there’s no monsters, no aliens or creatures; the lone threat is a runaway missile of unknown origin. The film is narrated Dragnet style and gives it a Noir feel.  I’d say 25 to 30% of the movie is comprised of stock military footage, but it doesn’t seem to detract from the film and the editing is competent if not inspired. The pacing is taught and the film moves along with an effective and deliberate score.

The film opens with a shot of a missile heading to Earth.  It passes over an eastern block country.  They fire a “hunter-type” interceptor missile at the lost missile, and effectively divert the rogue missile into an orbiting trajectory.  The lost missile spews across the arctic and northern Canada and burns up everything in its path. Ottawa is destroyed for probably the first and last time ever in a sci-fi or catastrophe film.

I like the design of the lost missile.  It was probably rendered by Jack R. Glass (listed in credits for special photographic effects). The stylized missile reminds me of a Flash Gordon spaceship. Glass worked on the original Adventures of Superman TV Series from the early 50’s and The Man from Planet X (1951).

The cast is good too, particularly Robert Loggia as Dr. David Loring and Philip Pine as Dr. Joe Freed. You’ve seen these guys in a ton of films. There’s a dumb romance between scientists and lot’s of mumbo jumbo military-scientific talk.  There’s a ton of repetition, but the film works for me.

Bill Warren speaks highly of this film, calling it’s idea of an alien artifact as a weapon “unique in films” and “unusual and interesting”. He notes the film is cheap (and it certainly is), but also “novel, tense and well-made”.  I like it a lot. Check out The Lost Missile. About $12 from Amazon and other DVD sources.

5 Responses to “The Lost Missile (1958)”

  1. Great film, very “Cold War” atmosphere. The film was narrated by actor Lawrence Dobkin, who also narrated the “Naked City” TV series, and appeared in Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”(1959). The use of stock military footage gives the film a more expensive appearance than it otherwise might have had.
    Look forward to checking out the Amazon copy of this DVD, in the meantime “The Lost Missile” can be watched here:

  2. Great review! Thanks! I’d heard of this film from a great sci-fi encyclopedia (in chronological order) of films — however, I hadn’t seen it yet — now I will! yay!

    I do like early Cold War sci-fi films…

  3. The beginning of this film is set in the “Havenbrook” atomic lab in New York and there really is a Brookhaven atomic lab in New York.

  4. Yeah that’s correct Stan! Good to have ya on board Joachim.

  5. […] […]

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