The Space Explorers

flightmoon1.jpg

Research into the origins of the serialized feature The Space Explorers, by folks who grew up obsessed with it from TV viewings in the late 50s/early 60s, never ends. Years ago I posted all the information I had about this Fred Ladd pastiche on my Cartoon Research FAQ. Ladd apparently combined live action shots from a German sci-fi film Weltraumschiff 1 Startet (Spaceship 1 Launches) with scenes from some random foreign outer space cartoon. Ladd has never been able to recall the name of the animated film from which the cartoon segments were culled.

You can all sleep easier tonight. The mystery has been solved. All character animation, from the interior of the spaceship to the scenes of the planet exploration, were extracted from a Russian short called Polet na lunu, (Flight to the Moon), produced in 1953. More information (with frame grabs) is posted on a French website located HERE.


  • http://www.agni-animation.com/blog/index.html Larry Loc

    I just did a post on The Space Explorers: http://www.agni-animation.com/blog/2008/03/producers-produce.html

    I have a copy of the film from Fred. There is no live action footage in the film at all. Nothing but the Russian film that you have just named, the Nazis stop motion film and the Karl Zeman educational puppet film, which you failed to mention in your post.

    It is a great piece of filmmaking all done in cut and paste editing creating a new film out of 3 other Marshall Plan films.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Sounds like it was a lot more successful than Robotech: the Movie. :-)

  • http://www.agni-animation.com/blog/index.html Larry Loc

    Follow up on Space Explorers. Fred always said the Universe was a Karel Zeman Czech film. Looks like it was a Russian film from 1951.

    http://www.agni-animation.com/blog/2008/03/more-exploring-space-explorers.html

  • http://www.TheSpaceExplorers.com Chuck Scholtz

    Both “The Space Explorers” and the “New Adventures of the Space Explorers” films by Fred Ladd are so obscure (sadly) that it is extremely difficult to gather accurate information. I put The Space Explorers website together to help bring it all back from obscurity, which I think has helped accomplish this. People like me were always describing our vague childhood memories and asking other people if they remembered it with little luck until one day I stumbled on an image from Mark Wades website http://www.astronautix.com/articles/theorers.htm … from there I contacted Fred Ladd as well as the surviving son of the late William Cayton who owned Radio & Television Packagers, Inc. where Fred worked. Between the two of them, I was able to pull together what you see on the website today. A week ago, I was contacted by Claude Mettavant who asked me to visit his French website http://project.mettavant.fr/kosmicfilm.htm#copy He asked me if I had ever heard of the 1953 Russian animated film “Polet na Lunu” released by Soyuzmultfilm. Well, when I saw his website I was amazed to see stills from what I knew for more than 40+ years only as my favorite childhood cartoon “The Space Explorers.”

    So with that revalation in my head, I started looking at the video of “New Adventures of the Space Explorers” loaned to me by William Cayton’s son, and it is that second title by Fred Ladd that uses educational film from that elusive film we have been referring to as “Univers.” Once I am able to look at the Russian film Kosmos (1951) by director Pavel Klushantsev recently tracked down by Jerry Beck, Larry Loc, and Jon Reeves we will know for sure.

  • http://www.TheSpaceExplorers.com Chuck Scholtz

    Here is a quick update. The film in question is definitely Russian (not Czech). It was made in 1951 by Soviet film director Pavel Klushantsev. The title is “The Universe” or (“Вселенная” in Russian).

    Here is a brief video clip on YouTube from ” The Universe” from an interview with Pavel Klushantsev.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2-TQGTWzg0

    As of now, it appears that the VHS video narrated by William Shatner does NOT/NOT have any content from the original Russian film by Klushantsev.