32 user 22 critic

Countdown (1967)

Approved | | Sci-Fi, Thriller | February 1968 (USA)
Desperate to land a man on the moon before Russia does, NASA hastily preps a would-be spaceman for a mission that would leave him alone in a lunar shelter for a year.


Robert Altman


Loring Mandel (screenplay), Hank Searls (novel)




Complete credited cast:
James Caan ... Lee Stegler
Joanna Moore ... Mickey Stegler
Robert Duvall ... Chiz
Barbara Baxley ... Jean
Charles Aidman ... Gus
Steve Ihnat ... Ross Duellan
Michael Murphy ... Rick
Ted Knight ... Walter Larson
Stephen Coit ... Ehrman
John Rayner John Rayner ... Dunc
Charles Irving Charles Irving ... Seidel
Bobby Riha ... Stevie Stegler (as Bobby Riha Jr.)


When the U.S. learns the Soviets are about to launch a manned mission to the moon, they feel it imperative that they get there first. The moon program isn't ready to launch yet so they decide to send one man in a modified Gemini capsule that will be able to land on the moon. The astronaut will have to stay there for up to a year - in a special built shelter that will be sent ahead of time - until an Apollo mission can rescue him. The obvious choice for the mission is Chiz, who knows the Gemini inside out but the Soviets are sending civilians, not military men, so geologist Lee Stegler is asked to go. He has only three weeks however to learn about the intricacies of the spacecraft and no one is sure if he will make it. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


From the director of "The Player" and "Nashville" comes a screen space adventure that's the real stuff. See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


Lee gets picked up by his wife after the shortened "Apollo 3" test in a red 1967 Ford Mustang convertible. See more »


When he is at the Russian lunar crash site, in the close up you can see a drawstring from his spacesuit covering at his helmet is clearly blowing in the breeze. This happened because they were on an outdoor location whereas on the actual lunar surface there would be no wind to blow the drawstring. See more »


NASA Engineer: What's he doing?
Gus: Every time he gets that Peter Pan rig on, he thinks he can fly.
NASA Engineer: That's not smart.
See more »


Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Robert Altman (2001) See more »

User Reviews

7 January 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

The Americans and Russians are in a race to the moon. For political reasons, Air Force pilot Robert Duvall is replaced by civilian James Caan as the astronaut for the mission. This leads to personal conflicts between the two and general doubts about whether Caan can pull the mission off. Director Robert Altman's space drama is a mostly unimpressive, static effort. If I didn't know better I would assume it was made-for-TV. Lacking in special effects and choosing instead to focus on the personal drama between the various parties involved in the space program, it can be a tough slog at times. It's very dry and has long stretches where it's boring. It's also lacking in the kind of suspense necessary for a story about a race to the moon. Anti-climactic ending doesn't help, either. If you're a fan of movies about the space program perhaps you should check it out. Otherwise I can't recommend it.

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Release Date:

February 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Moonshot See more »

Filming Locations:

Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA See more »

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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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