The Astronaut is set in the not too distant future when the first American astronaut prepares to set foot on the planet Mars. The world is watching this event live on television. Everything is a success, or so the world thinks, and he is treated as a hero upon his return. Later, it is discovered that the mission was a failure and as the astronaut was on Mars he died of an undetermined condition either due to toxic poisoning due to conditions on Mars or some unknown bacteria native to Mars. To avoid having the space program cancelled, officials substitute a lookalike for an astronaut who died on a Mars mission.
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!
Director: Robert Michael
Starring: Jackie Cooper, Monte Markham, Richard Anderson, Robert Lansing