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  • melissab10 June 1999
    I've only seen this movie once, when it was originally broadcast, and I have never forgotten it. Recently I've been trying to find it on video, but have been unsuccessful. This is an excellent movie. Even if the premise is a little far-fetched, the movie is wonderful in the way it allows the emotions of the characters to unfold. I still hold out hope that one day this movie will show up on video.
  • Either Monte Markham has good taste, or he was lucky in the TV movies in which he was cast. He's certainly made some gems: Visions of Death, Death Takes a Holiday, and The Astronaut. The Astronaut pairs him with Susan Clark, a major actress of the '70s.

    This film is based on the same idea as Capricorn One. In Capricorn One, the astronauts have to fake a space landing for the government. In The Astronaut, the astronaut doesn't make it back, so the government plants a look-alike and returns him to the man's wife (Clark).

    Because of the story and strong acting, this is another film that sticks in the minds of people who saw it, and another one I wouldn't mind seeing again.
  • jeanniewitch13 August 2001
    I think the remarkable thing about this movie is the excellent performances by Monte Markham and Susan Clark so early in both their careers. No accident that this was a winner with Harve Bennett (Star Trek fame) as producer. The story line was great and has been duplicated since but never as well as in this original.The only drawback is the fact that I have not been able to find a copy of this anywhere. Someone is missing the boat bigtime. This is a real goodie!
  • I agree with the first poster of comments, Melissa. This has remained in my head for a long time (especially Monte Markham's "replacement" astronaut's word to his "wife" "I carved your initials on a Martian Apple Tree...". This isn't a space tale but a tale of humanity and all it's facets. A lovely tale for a TV production (was an "ABC Movie of the Week"). If it plays or comes out on tape, I'll ship you a message, Melissa. BP
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Like the others here, I liked this movie when I first saw it in the late '80s, probably the end of 1987 or early 1988. It was on some cable channel, maybe WOR(which we have not had here in this area for many years now), and the plot grabbed me, and I started watching it.

    I noticed a few things in the movie:: (Spoiler alert!!)

    The "base" in which the "replacement" astronaut reports to , and is "reformed in",looks a LOT like the wildfire lab from "andromeda strain". This would make sense, as the set may have still existed and would have been convenient to use. It looks intriguing here, as it did in AS.

    The US actually ALLOWED the Rusians to send a manned Mars mission , KNOWING that they would die from the atmosphere, as did "Bryce" on the US mission. I doubt that would really occur in reality. I imagine that when the truth came out, near the end of the movie, that the Russian craft would most likely have made an abort, probably around the moon, and came back home, with a LOT of questions and innuendo, justifiably so!!

    Near the beginning of the movie, on character(perhaps Jackie Coper) is driving in his car, and the radio is speaking about the "fiscal year 1981". 1981!! That is when we were SUPPOSED to have made a Mars landing. Of course, we can't even get to the MOON today, with the shuttle!!

    All in all--I liked the movie.I have it somewhere on an old videotape, from TV. I watched it in the last few years, and it looked pretty good still, after all of these years!!

    ADD edit- March 2017---This movie is now available on YOUTUBE. I would advise anyone who wants to see it..go to YT and "get it" while it is still there. I spoke of this a couple of years back on the message boards...but those are gone now..so I am doing it HERE..
  • This is the movie that made me a fan of Monte Markham. He positively shines! And I love how the movie is more concerned with the human factor rather than the hardware. Special effects are well and good, but that's all a lot of newer movies have. I taped this a couple of years after its first airing, and have never tired of watching it!
  • This was probably the first Susan Clark movie that I saw and I became a lifelong fan of hers. I saw it when I just a young kid. I have thought about it often and told friends what a good movie it was. I've always been more of plot fan of movies than of the actors in the movie. This movie was really good and the performance of Susan Clark and Monte Markham was well above average for a television movie. It's unfortunate that I entice my friends to see the movie and it's not available for viewing that I know of. Too bad Nick at Night doesn't show old television movies also.
  • At 71 minutes, you can't tell much of a story. That was one of the problems with the weekly TV flicks ABC showed for 6 or 7 years back in the early 70s. Movie makers had to cut to the chase and play up the easily understood, the quickly digestible, the clich√©. There just wasn't the ability to go long and deep, to add layers of understanding and detail to a story.

    With that said, danged if I didn't like 1972's The Astronaut, a complicated-relationship story wrapped up in an attempt by government baddies to cover up the death of an astronaut on Mars by pulling the old plastic surgery gag.

    Monte Markham is the poor, sympathetic schlub who looks like the dead guy. Markham, a veteran TV actor is actually believable as a ne'er-do-well who says yes to the plot in order to get rid of his past life. Susan Clark, an elegant actress who always struck me as being somewhat broken in her roles, starts off all hysterical and pregnant-brained, but when she begins to suspect the nice man who has come home from space is, well, nice--and that doesn't sound like her brittle, driven husband--she begins to show some real toughness, and eventually, tenderness. Jackie Cooper, as the head of "Voyager" program, is smooth, slimy, and, thank goodness, a moral man who finally says no to the Nixonian types who have been whispering in his ear.

    The Astronaut has so many character actors I grew up with that I can't list them all. You'd recognize them if you were my age. What I didn't recognize at first was how satisfying the relationship between Markham and Clark becomes. For a cheapo TV-movie, this emotional depth was unexpected. I liked the movie because I liked the characters and the moral dilemmas that are presented.

    Unlike--I swear--half the ABC Movies of the Week, this isn't a pilot for a cheesy cop show or a idiot-level comedy. The Astronaut stands alone, and it's a quality act.
  • bjboulden18 June 2017
    I remember this movie as a kid. Its been 40 years since i saw it and it still is powerful. This is when TV Networks made ground breaking movies; Brian's Song, That Certain Summer, Rich Man Poor Man, Roots, QB VII

    The Astronaut is was ground breaking. Just wish I could get this Video. ABC TV should release all their Movie of the Weeks
  • Before "Capricorn One" appeared this taut little time filler starring Monte Markham in dual roles, ably supported by the under-rated Susan Clark as the wife of the first astronaut to land on Mars. Complications arise however and NASA (led principally by Jackie Cooper and Bob Lansing) create an elaborate ruse to ensure funding for future projects isn't jeopardised.

    Walter Brooke has a key supporting role as a reporter and friend to the shuttle commander, whilst there are small roles for James B.Sikking as the co-pilot and Richard Anderson as the NASA doctor and reluctant co-conspirator.

    It's remarkably tame considering the risks associated with the premise, and neither Cooper nor Lansing appear to have any sinister intentions, their plight driven by misguided loyalty and patriotism more than any villainous ambition. Economical movie of the week.
  • mpoconnor731 January 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    From the title, you might think The Astronaut was a sci-fi movie, but it wasn't. It was a very good made for TV movie which focused more on people than special effects, and dealt with the human cost of living a lie.

    The basic plot is that on the first manned mission to Mars, the first man to step on the Martian surface dies of poisoning due to mysterious gases in the Martian atmosphere that permeated his spacesuit. The head of the space program, fearing that this disaster could end the space program, covered it up and found a pilot who bore an uncanny resemblance to the deceased Astronaut and trained the lookalike to be the first man to step on Mars once the spacecraft returned to Earth. The deal was that after a period of time, the Astronaut would be killed in a pre-arranged boating accident with the body never found, giving the lookalike his life back.

    The Astronaut's wife soon figured out he was a fraud, but, over time, began to fall in love with the lookalike. She chose to join him on the boat so she also would be "killed" and have her identity changed to be with him. As they were getting ready to board the boat, they were informed that the Soviets had just announced that they had launched their mission to Mars. Knowing the same fate that befell the American Astronaut would also happen to the Soviet Astronauts, and the scam they pulled would be revealed, they decided not to board the boat, and instead decided to come clean. The Space Program Administrator, coming to the same conclusion, decided that he too had to come clean to the President and tell the truth about what happened on Mars.

    The acting was a notch above your run of the mill MFTVM, with Monte Markham playing the Astronaut and his doppleganger, Susan Clark as the Astronaut's wife, and Jackie Cooper as the Space Program head. The movie was predictable, but it was well done by TV standards.
  • During the first manned landing on Mars, something happens and the video feed back to Earth is disrupted. What the folks at home DON'T know is that a disaster occurred and one of the astronauts was killed when his space suit failed. The NASA folks, however, are concerned with not just public relations BUT are worried about further funding so they put into effect a diabolical plan...to hire someone to pretend to be the dead man! Eddie is similar looking to Bryce....and with a bit of plastic surgery and training he can become Bryce! So, during the time they are waiting for the ship's return, Eddie is coached to become the dead man!

    When he lands, everything works like a charm....except for one thing. Bryce's wife (Susan Clark) realizes something is amiss...and she confronts 'Bryce' and asks him directly is he is really her husband! What's next? See the picture.

    Monte Markham does a nice job playing both roles in the film. While he's not a familiar name, he was a very familiar face and he was fine in the role. I also appreciate how the film is far less sci- fi--and more a story about people. In many ways, it's like the later film "Dave" and is filled with some terrific scenes. One of the better installments of "The ABC Movie of the Week".

    By the way, this was produced by Harve Bennett....a guy who was made famous for producing many of the Star Trek movies and shows.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Astronaut Monte Markham is the first to land on Mars, and when he dies during the mission, those in charge of the mission (lead by Jackie Cooper) decide to put a look alike in his place so it appears that the American mission was successful. At first, wife Susan Clark, reunited with her husband, is overjoyed by his supposed safe return, but the secret can't remain under wraps forever, and this becomes a personal drama of anger, confusion and ultimately a sweet love story. The title gives a different impression, so when you end up with a domestic story mixed with intrigue that could create international scandal (as the Russians want to get there as well), it's a bit perplexing at first. However, the more you get into it, the more touching it is and the more serious you see the conflict that is presented.

    Markham and Clark, under the guise of wanting to create a new anonymous life so he is allowed to gain a new identity, demand being able to go into hiding, and that creates conflict with the people in power. News of the Russians adds more intrigue to the story, and in one emotional scene, a little boy refers to Markham in a heroic manner. It's obvious that the truth cannot come out, so what is a couple newly in love to do when controlled by the government? That's where the intrigue comes in, and there are few surprises along the way. Intelligent and well-written, this has questions as well as answers, and that will keep the viewer thinking about this film long after it is over.