Next Stop, Rocket Science


It seems the biopic of Werner Von Braun, famed for his role in the US space program, but rather less popular for his rocketry for the Nazis in WWII was originally called WERNER VON BRAUN, and then somebody got cold feet and thought, Maybe we aren’t quite ready to forgive him yet? and so the title was changed to the more poetic I AIM AT THE STARS, but this mealy-mouthed approach was too tempting for someone or other, who suggested appending the subtitle …BUT SOMETIMES I HIT LONDON.

Nobody seems to know who thought of this wizard wheeze, but I suspect that further research would show that it was either Noel Coward or an anonymous wag. Previous research has shown that this kind of thing* is almost always the work of Noel Coward or an anonymous wag.


The film itself is typical of director J. Lee Thompson’s energetic approach at this time, with a swinging camera and dynamic blocking. Laurie Johnson’s percussive score adds to the general sense of being yelled at, and in case that gets old, Curt Jurgens is on hand to do actual yelling. I don’t quite understand the Curt Jurgens phenomenon. Calling him “Curd” doesn’t help either. I guess we can blame …AND GOD CREATED WOMAN for turning him from a perfectly respectable German character actor into somebody regarded as an international movie star. With sex appeal. And yet I can’t convince myself that history would be any different if Gert Frobe had played all Curt or Curd Jurgens’ roles and vice versa.

*A further example of This Kind of Thing. Noel Coward remarked, upon seeing a poster for THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM with Dirk Bogarde and Michael Redgrave, “I don’t see why not, everyone else has.”

9 Responses to “Next Stop, Rocket Science”

  1. To be fair, Gert couldn’t possibly have shinned up that rope in THE VAULT OF HORROR. Though I must admit it would’ve been nice to have Goldfinger back in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

  2. Gert would just deploy his naturally buoyant personality. The man was a bubble of glee.

    Tom Lehrer is miraculous. It’s still hard to believe such a person could walk amongst us.

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    Curt in the opening credits of Nick Ray’s BITTER VICTORY (57)., Curd in the closing credits. Tomato, tomah-to–let’s call the whole thing off.

    Dour, jowly, balding Germans float some people’s boats (imdb tell us a BILD magazine poll ranks him as #2 among male screen sex symbols).

  4. David Boxwell Says:

    I have in mind a composite male/female German actor who specializes in repellent characters: Valeska Gert Frobe.

  5. The Germaphrodite!

    The Germans HAVE given us many attractive screen stars, so I don’t see how Curd can rank at all. I mean he has a sexuality about him, one senses he’s interested, but… one generally doesn’t want to get too close to the screen.

  6. jwarthen Says:

    Reading the disdain above persuades me you have not screened THE DEVIL’S GENERAL lately. Have a look– Occupation film-script guidelines and all, it (Jurgens too) is still damned impressive.

  7. I was reading about him yesterday! Spooky

  8. Thanks, Jwarthen, sounds worth a look.

    This is the home of the spooky coincidence.

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