Journey to the Far Side of the Sun aka Doppelgänger was the first live-action film to be made by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who also wrote the screenplay. It was directed by Robert Parrish.
A planet is discovered in the same orbit as the Earth, but on the far side of the sun. The European Space Exploration Council (EuroSEC) decide to send American astronaut Colonel Glenn Ross and British scientist John Kane to investigate. After a crash-landing, Ross discovers that Kane is near death and that they have returned to Earth. Unfortunately, things are not at all as they appear.
This is one of the best Science Fiction films ever made. To start with, it comes from the people who made their name bringing us the future, when the future was still a long way away; ‘Fireball XL5’, ‘Stingray’, ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Captain Scarlet’, to name a few. If you keep that in mind then you will see where I am coming from, with this review. Set in 2069 the story, although now completely absurd, concerns the discovery of an Earth-like planet in our Solar System, in our orbit, but on the opposite side of the Sun. From the moment after launch, you have to pay real attention, otherwise you will miss important moments, because there is a subtlety used in the film that means that not all of the clues are ‘shoved in your face’, like many of the movies nowadays. This leads you to see the film through Colonel Ross’ eyes, meaning you discover things as he discovers them. Roy Thinnes, who plays Colonel Glenn Ross, gives an enigmatic performance as his character goes through various changes. From being the confident American astronaut, to the shaken post crash-landed broken man to the paranoid, but not paranoid, family man trying to get home. It is this character that we follow and, in some ways, feel more for than any other. Ian Hendry, who portrays the ill-fated British scientist John Kane, plays the perfect foil to the character of Ross. At times the two actors play the roles as if they are in a buddy-movie, like ‘Lethal Weapon’. Other supporting actors, who deserve a mention, are Patrick Wymark, George Sewell and Lynn Loring. Herbot Lom makes a sinister appearance as Doctor Hassler, a character that I felt absolutely no connection to, or understood what he added to the story. The effects are exactly what you expect from a Gerry Anderson production. Some fantastic models that could quite easily fit into any of his ‘puppet’ programmes. In fact, many of the models, sets and costumes, from this film, ended up being reused in Gerry Anderson’s ‘UFO’, as did many of the cast members. The computers are dated, as they are in most movies of this era, including ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, but this is a film that was, in some ways, dated the moment it was released. Remember, when this movie was released on 27th August 1969, man had only set foot on the moon, one month before, on July 20th 1969. There are a few other problems with the movie, like continuity, plot-holes and editing errors, the latter of which is surprising as the film’s director, Robert Parrish, won an Academy Award for Best Film Editing on the 1947 film, ‘Body and Soul’. Another, often overlooked, part of this film is the soundtrack. Sometimes a score can spoil a movie, because it isn’t matched to the tone. Other films suffer because the composer uses a score that he originally wrote for a different movie. Here, Barry Gray’s score works in such a way that the film and soundtrack become one perfect piece of sight and sound.
This film was remade as a TV Movie, in 1973, as the pilot for a TV show. The series was never made.
All-in-all I would give this film 7/10