I'd missed out on this one as both as a VHS rental and on local TV in the past but which, bafflingly, hasn't been available anywhere else (not even on DVD) until now
or, perhaps, not so strange since it's considered pretty much an outdated early movie about the space program!
That said, the film has always enjoyed a reputation as one of the better Walt Disney live-action efforts an opinion I was happy to share after watching it for myself (especially given my recent disappointment with such other popular albeit ultra-juvenile fare as THE GNOME-MOBILE  and the two "Witch Mountain" outings). In fact, this has very few concessions to the typical Disney 'cuteness' (basically extending to the inevitable romance and an over-eager member at the space center breaking into a would-be hip "Go, man, go!" routine with every shuttle launch) and is clearly elevated by the presence of strong actors Tom Tryon is ideally cast in the lead, though it's Brian Keith as his constantly exasperated superior and Edmond O'Brien as the dogged yet bewildered Federal Security man who dominate much of the proceedings (especially when the two engage in shouting matches between themselves).
Anyway, as can be gleaned from the title, the plot involves attempts by the U.S. to orbit the moon: the first guinea-pig is a chimp which, however, goes berserk on returning home; undeterred, a human volunteer is requested Tryon, of course (though he's actually air-sick!). Soon after, he begins to be followed by a petite girl of obvious foreign origins (Dany Saval, whose gaucheness starts off by being corny but eventually proves disarming) who not only knows all about his supposedly top-secret mission but actively wants to impart to him vital information about his safety 'up there'; however, he believes her to be a spy and tries his best to avoid her! Still, she manages to turn up at the most unexpected places (even after O'Brien has him 'kidnapped' to a hotel) and eventually confesses to being an alien clearly possessing advanced knowledge and who, atypically for the sci-fi genre, intends to extend help to Earth people rather than conquer them!
MOON PILOT, then, resorts agreeably to such well-worn albeit effective suspense/spy movie trappings as the "McGuffin" (in the form of the missing element which would allow humans to adapt to the atmosphere in outer space), chases, impersonation and, it goes without saying, the growing affection between hero and heroine thrown into this unusual situation. Apart from the obvious space gadgetry, the sci-fi aspect of the film is evident in the scene in which, to demonstrate her powers, Saval gives Tryon a foretaste of his/their future. As always with Disney films, however, comedy is as much an intrinsic ingredient of the formula: best of all are the running 'unreliable elevator' gag with Tryon and O'Brien, and the potentially campy suspects' line-up of beatniks (under whose guise Saval has descended to Earth clearly a sign of the times). Keith's queasy look during the latter sequence is priceless
as is his final flustered off-screen outburst when Tryon and Saval sign off in space courtesy of a Sherman Brothers love song!