As well as I remember those misty images of Neil Armstrong coming out of the lunar module to put the first footstep on the moon, I remember the look on Walter Cronkite’s face as he reported it.
Cronkite died today at age 92.
No one born after 1980 can understand the influence of Walter Cronkite on the generation that came of age in the 1950’s and 60’s because there is simply no one to compare him to. In those days there were only three choices for network news coverage, and Cronkite, voted “the most trusted man in America,” was on CBS, which prided itself on meeting the highest standard for quality broadcast journalism — and never insisted that the news division make money. In the 1960’s, when we had to wait every night to find out from television news broadcasts what had happened that day, it was Cronkite who explained it all to us — the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, Kent State, Watergate.
But there was no story that he loved more than the space program. He was always completely professional but it was easy to see he was as excited and proud as we were. His integrity and curiosity inspired us all and his legacy should be a powerful reminder of the importance of the quality of journalism he pioneered and exemplified.
Salute the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon mission with some moon-y movies (but my favorite is Monday’s DVD pick of the week, so stay tuned).
1. Moonstruck Cher won an Oscar for her performance in one of the most romantic films ever made, where an enormous full moon inspires unexpected love. “Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die!”
2. Capricorn One A conspiracy theory favorite, this one has Elliot Gould, Hal Holbrook, and Sam Waterston (and O.J. Simpson!) in a story about a government plot to fake a moon landing after the real launch fails.
3. Apollo 13 Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinese star in this gripping drama directed by Ron Howard about the heroic rescue operation after the Apollo 13 capsule suffered an explosion on its way to the moon. This is true heroism and problem-solving — and brilliant film-making as well.
4. Space Buddies The Buddies pups end up as stowaways on a trip to the moon in his family-movie favorite.
5. A Walk on the Moon Diane Lane is exquisite in this story about a lonely housewife who has an affair the summer that men first walked on the moon.
6. RiffTrax: Missile to the Moon – from the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000! Mike Nelson and the Rifftrax guys provide the hilarious commentary for this story about a rocket to the moon with escaped convicts, a stowaway fiancÃ©e, and a moon-man. Here’s the trailer for the original film without the commentary:
7. H.G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon An anti-gravity paste transports Victorian explorers to the moon where they discover some bee-like creatures. Great effects by creature designer Ray Harryhausen.
8. Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales Margaret Wise Brown’s night-time classic is beautifully filmed in this DVD collection of bedtime stories. “Goodnight, bears. Goodnight, chairs.”
9. Journey to the Moon: The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Every family should watch this documentary about the real-life adventure that had Neil Armstrong and his team land on the moon and return home safely.
10. The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe’s book about the first group of astronauts is brilliantly filmed by writer-director Philip Kaufman, who recognizes the dream of a moon expedition as emblematic of the American spirit.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Showtime has a new series about a minister and his family called “Revelation.”
Margaret Lyons wrote:
I’d be pumped for anything from David Janollari and Craig Wright — their mutual previous credit is Six Feet Under, so I trust them to create a thoughtful, unique family drama. But I’m particularly excited to see some religiosity play out on TV because I think it’s underexplored — most religious people aren’t 7th Heaven’s Camden family, you know? I remember seeing the pilot for Friday Night Lights and being so struck by scene where the Panthers say a prayer with the pee wee kids. I can’t remember seeing other characters pray on TV before, and it obviously stuck with me.
While shows like “Seventh Heaven” and “Big Love” focus on families whose religious faith is central to their lives, I’m with Lyons — very interested to see a thoughtful portrayal of a family with sincere religious conviction who struggle with the application of those views to their life decisions.
Many thanks to Entertainment Weekly for recommending this very funny update of “West Side Story” for the age of the internet.