The three man crew of Capricorn One are readying for takeoff to Mars. On board are Colonel Charles Brubaker (James Brolin), Peter Willis (Sam Waterston) and John Walker (O.J. Simpson). During their preflight checklist they are abruptly taken off the spacecraft and flown to an abandoned WWII military base in the desert. The spaceship is launched on schedule without them. Everyone believes the men are still aboard the craft.
At the base, the men meet with NASA ‘s Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook). He informs them that a problem with the life support system would have resulted in the death of all three men had they stayed aboard. There is great concern by certain individuals that a failed mission would result in funding being drastically cut. Kelloway wants the crew to help fake the Mars mission. To ensure their cooperation he threatens their families.
To pull this off the astronauts are filmed in a studio built on the abandoned base. Only a few people are aware that the footage is faked. The conspiracy goes on until one technician, Elliot Whitter (Robert Walden) notices that the images are being received sooner than it should be. When Whitter reports the anomaly he is given an excuse that doesn’t ring true. Whitter tells reporter and friend Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) about his concerns. Whitter then suddenly disappears. It’s as if he never existed. Now Caulfield is suspicious. Several attempts are made on his life. Now Caulfield is really suspicious.
When the spaceship returns from Mars a problem with the heat shield causes it to burn up on reentry. Without a capsule to put the astronauts in the three men become a problem for Kelloway. Knowing that they are now expendable they make an escape attempt but the jet they steal has no fuel. Crash landing in the desert they not only have the government to worry about, but Mother Nature too.
In the meantime Whitter is getting closer to the truth. Close enough that he too is expendable.
“Capricorn One” was released in 1978 and was directed by Peter Hyams. If conspiracy theories are your obsession than you know this movie. Whether you’re a diehard student of all things deep state or just feel that some things are not as they appear you may feel there are truths in this world that aren’t, well, true.
The movie is long, a little over two hours but it was intense. The helicopters hunting down the men were like two synchronized sharks in the air. Whenever it looked like the movie was going to slow down, something would come up to get things going again. The pace only slows for a moment and then there is another twist or turn and the story moves along again. And you’re hooked.
With some really good stars the acting is spot on. They take some wordy dialogue and make it seem like you really needed to hear it all. The writing is great and the special effects are well done.
Despite being the bad guy in this movie, NASA provided technical assistance, including mock-up spacecraft, sets, vehicles and front screen projection expertise.
The space rocket footage in the movie was that of Saturn V Apollo.
The snake Brubaker eats was full of raw fish.