Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Mouse on Moon" Is Sparkling Fun

Cleveland Press August 1, 1963

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, smallest and least progressive country in Europe, has a problem. Its sole export, wine, is no good. It explodes.

The country faces ruin. But the wily and dishonest prime minister (Ron Moody) has a plan.

Simply ask the United States for a $500,000 loan for the purpose of putting a man on the moon. The prime minister knows the U. S. will know it's a fraud but figures the Americans will grant the money for propaganda purposes -- knowing full well that Grand Fenwick can't possibly get a rocket built for that price, let alone put a man on the moon.

He really wants to get plumbing for the castle so he can have hot water for his bath. The political cry becomes "peace, prosperity and plumbing."

U.S. Always Duped

Someone points out that this is deceiving the American taxpayer.

"The American taxpayer has always been deceived. It's his birthright," the prime minister loftily proclaims.

The United States comes through with double the amount in the form of an outright gift. Russia counters with the donation of a secondhand rocket.

Britain worries and sends its top espionage agent, bungling Terry -Thomas, to Grand Fenwick to investigate.

Happy at the thought of hot water, the prime minister also is overjoyed at the impending return of his son (Bernard Cribbins) from school.

"As a boy he was wonderfully sly and dishonest," he fondly recalls.

Son Goes Straight

But his son is dishonest no longer. He thinks the money should be used for space research and finds an ally in Professor Kokintz (David Kossoff), the one-man Scientific Department of Fenwick.

The professor has just figured out what is wrong wit the wine. As a beverage it' not much, but as nuclear fuel it's wonderful.

Everyone double - crosses everyone else from this point on. The Americans and Russians each plan to get a rocket up first. Britain thinks the rocket is a real hot water tank. The prime minister hopes the whole thing will blow up.

The remarks are often satirical, the pictorial effect generally farcical. The rocket is equipped with all the comforts of home, plus chickens -- eggs on the way up, roast chicken on the way back.

"We don't have a countdown," the professor explains, "because we have no one to count."

Moody is all ham as the prime minister. Margaret Rutherford appears briefly as a forgetful, sometimes tipsy queen. Terry - Thomas is broadly comic as the spy.

The film is blunt in its satire, wildly funny in spots and generally amusing.