Poster for Capricorn One, 1977 conspiracy thriller movie

Conspiracy theorists among you will remember how I revealed who was behind Donald Trump’s 2016 US presidential election victory. On top of that, I also steered you towards Jack the Ripper’s real identity.

Aside from that, though, I have no time for the more dangerous tinfoil-hatted eejitry such as your “Immigration is replacement!” and your “Jews control the world!”, but of course that could just be my double vaccine doses talking. On which point, it’s weird how anti-vaxxers distrust frontline healthcare workers and actual scientists but take as gospel some tweet by an anonymous guy living in his mom and dad’s basement in Arsebucket, Idaho, USA. Some people are just eejits.

It’s become something of a truism that the Internet age has enabled conspiracy theories to spread and propagate like a deadly airborne virus. However, you could argue that in pop culture terms the Year Zero of conspiracy theories was sometime in the 1970s. Watergate vindicated the 1960s counter-cultural and anti-establishment feeling: a sort of justification that those who doubted the official ‘lone nutter’ explanation of the King and two Kennedy assassinations were indeed onto something. Hollywood, where cultural trends go to meet the marketplace, went big on conspiracy thrillers in the 1970s, most notably with Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Alan J. Pakula’s triptych of Klute, The Parallax View and All The President’s Men.

The great white whale of ’60s-inspired ’70s conspiracy theories, of course, is that The Moon Landings Were A Hoax. In 1969, so the argument goes, you still had to get up to change the channels on your TV, so how could we have the technology to put folk on the Moon? Also, how could a flag planted on the Moon make that shadow at that angle at that time of the lunar cycle, and so forth. Ergo, the whole thing was staged in the deserts of Nevada, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Follow the clues, sheeple!

Suffice it to say, I’m not convinced. For one thing, I’m looking out the window as I write this and the Moon is right there, a short hop away. By contrast, I’m expected to believe that thousands of miles away, conveniently out of my sight, is a place called “Australia”. Secondly, people played golf on the Moon and golfers make a big thing of always telling the truth with their shots and scorecards. Finally, if you watched Superman II and found the most outlandish thing in it to be the Earth astronauts on the Moon, you have other problems.

Having said all that, we all like a good twisty conspiracy in books and films, and the idea of something as huge and public as the Moon landing being faked is an attractive concept. The makers of Capricorn One, a slightly daft but stellarly cast and highly enjoyable conspiracy thriller from 1978, have as their suspicious event a first human mission to Mars, but aside from that it taps right into the Moon-hoax theories of their time and ours.

This high concept is brilliantly and convincingly staged by both the movie and the movie-within-a-movie. What’s more, Capricorn One also knows where to go next; with the money shot out of the way we see the disgruntled putative astronauts (James Brolin, Sam Waterston and that ’70s movie bit-player O.J. Simpson, no stranger to dubious explanations of real-life crimes) join the dots and realise how their story will have to pan out if the hoax is to hold. Meanwhile, ‘back’ on Earth, a questioning mission control technician puts a flea in the ear of rumpled reporter Elliott Gould. The rest of the movie rolls out in a series of impressive action set-pieces and a big slo-mo finale, though to get there you have to overlook the occasional bit of hamminess and silliness; for instance, Telly Savalas shows up as a rather unlikely rural crop-duster pilot. But as a whole it’s a brisk and exciting film.

Some solid citizen/fearless truther has posted Capricorn One the full movie online, so enjoy it here before the global illuminati suppress it: