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Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986) - Illustrated Reference

Updated on October 20, 2016

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home was directed by Leonard Nimoy. It premiered on the 26th November 1986 Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Catherine Hicks, Robert Ellenstein, Jane Wyatt and Mark Lenard. Screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer, Harve Bennett. Music by Leonard Rosenman. 119mins.

A mysterious alien probe approaches Earth sending out a signal and waiting for a response. The presence of the probe is threatening the Earth with destruction. Admiral Kirk and his crew travel back in time to the 20th century to bring back two humpback whales, hunted to extinction by the 23rd century and the only creatures that can respond to the probe’s signal.

Comedian Eddie Murphy wanted to star in the 4th movie and a script was written. Murphy’s character was a professor who enjoyed listening to whale song and believed in UFO’s. But Murphy didn’t want to play a hippie professor, he wanted to play a Starfleet officer. He declined the role and went on to make The Golden Child (1986) instead.

Gillian: Don't tell me, you're from outer space?
Kirk: No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space

William Shatner (1931-) / Admiral James T. Kirk

Born in Quebec, Canada, William Shatner has also starred as James Kirk in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991) and Star Trek Generations (1994).

Leonard Nimoy (1931-) / Mr. Spock

Born in Boston, Massachussets, Leonard Nimoy has played Spock in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) / Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, DeForest Kelley has appeared as Dr. McCoy in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Gillian: Do you guys like Italian?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: No.
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: No.
Kirk: I love Italian,
(looks at Spock)
Kirk: And so do you.
Spock: Yes.

Catherine Hicks (1951-) / Dr. Gillian Taylor.

Born in Manhattan, New York City, Catherine Hicks received an Emmy nomination for playing Marilyn Monroe in the TV movie Marilyn-The Untold Story (1980) , she won a Best Actress Saturn Award for the horror film Child’s Play (1988), and received a Best Supporting Actress Saturn for Star Trek IV.

Her films include - Death Valley (1982), Garbo Talks (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Like Father Like Son (1987), She's Out of Control (1989), Turbulence (1997) and The Genesis Code (2010). TV series 7th Heaven (1996-2007).

Mark Lenard (1924-1996) / Ambassador Sarek

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mark Lenard has played Spock's father Sarek on the classic 60's Star Trek series, The Next Generation and in three Trek movies, Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Jane Wyatt (1910-2006) / Amanda Grayson

Born in Campgaw, New Jersey, Jane Wyatt first played Spock's human mother in the classic Star Trek episode Journey to Babel (1967). Her films include - Great Expectations (1934), Lost Horizon (1937), Boomerang (1947), Gentlemen's Agreement (1947), My Blue Heaven (1950) and Treasure of Matecumbe (1976). TV series - Father Knows Best (1954-1960).

Robert Ellenstein (1923-2010) / Federation Council President

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Robert Ellenstein's films include - Illegal (1955), 3:10 to Yuma (1957), North by Northwest (1959), The Gazebo (1959), Love at First Bite (1979) and Brewster's Millions (1985).

Brock Peters (1927-2005) / Admiral Cartwright

Born in New York City, Brock Peters would reprise the role of Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991) where he would be exposed as one of the conspirators planning to sabotage peace talks with the Klingon Empire.

Brock Peters also played Captain Sisko's father on Deep Space Nine. He was the innocent man accused of rape in the classic movie To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Peters read the eulogy at Peck’s funeral in 2003.

John Schuck (1940-) / Klingon Ambassador

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, John Schuck would reprise the role of “angry Klingon Ambassador” in Star Trek VI and would appear in other roles in episodes of Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise. TV Series McMillan & Wife (1971-1977) and The Munsters Today (1988-1991 as Herman Munster)

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home is dedicated to the crew of the Challenger space shuttle which exploded after lift off in January 1986, killing all seven on board.

The time travel technique used in the film to take the Bird of Prey back to the 20th century was first seen in the first season episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday” (1967) and the second season episode “Assignment Earth” (1968).

One plot development from the script that was not used in the film was Saavik staying behind on Vulcan because she was pregnant with young Spock’s child after he went through the Vulcan pon farr in Star Trek III.

Scotty: Admiral, there be whales here!

Many of the shots of the humpback whales used in the film were in fact life size animatronic models. I couldn’t tell the difference.

Chekov: Excuse me, sir! Can you direct us to the naval base in Alameda? It's where they keep the nuclear wessels.

After saving the Earth once again, Admiral Kirk’s punishment for disobeying Starfleet orders and stealing the Enterprise was to demote him to Captain and give him command of a Starship, which turns out to be a brand new Enterprise NCC-1701 A.

This is the only Star Trek movie with no villains. The closest thing to a villain here are the Finnish whale hunters attempting to harpoon the two humpback whales.

If you look carefully at the scene where Sulu is flying the Huey helicopter and he accidentally turns on the windscreen wiper look to the bottom right and you can see someone’s finger moving the wiper up and down.

Veteran composer Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008) scored the fourth Star Trek movie and received an Oscar nomination. Among the films he has scored are East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1956), Fantastic Voyage (1966) and The Lord of the Rings (1978).

Trek IV was nominated for 4 Oscars, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Music.

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home was very successful, grossing $109m in the US. Until the release of Star Trek (2009) it was the only Star Trek film to pass $100m at the US box office. The worldwide total was $133m.

Kirk: If we play our cards right, we may be able to find out when those whales are being released.
Spock: How will playing cards help?

Very popular with fans and moviegoers, Star Trek IV had few special effects and plenty of humour. Surprisingly its environmental message was not a turn off and it’s the only Star Trek movie liked by people who aren’t fans of the series. It’s also very quotable.

Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise will be back in Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989).

The Critics Wrote –

"Mr. Nimoy directed this Star Trek installment, and indeed he should probably direct all of them. The technical minutiae, the solemn silliness and the preachy tone occasionally sounded here (''You know, it's ironic - when man was killing these creatures, he was destroying his own future'') are all essential to the Star Trek mystique. Whatever it is, it seems durable beyond anyone's wildest dreams. And Mr. Nimoy, by injecting some extra levity this time, has done a great deal to assure the series longevity." (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

“It has an irresistibly sure touch, an easy command of its audience... It’s reminiscent of an old trouper - Chevalier, Hope or Crosby in their later years. Short of wind, it captures us with a wink or a word, a nudge on our mutual memory banks.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Warmer, wittier, more socially relevant and truer to its TV origins than prior odysseys.” (Variety)

"Some of the kidding around is fairly genial, and William Shatner's Kirk is less stoic here than in III--HE'S pleasantly daffy. The others in the crew also have an easy, parodistic tone. But the picture doesn't have much beyond the interplay among them and the jokey scenes in San Francisco” (Pauline Kael)

“The best of the series: it isn’t saying much, but at least there are shreds of wit in the script.” (Halliwell)

“Easily the most absurd of the Star Trek stories - and yet, oddly enough, it is also the best, the funniest, and the most enjoyable in simple human terms. I'm relieved that nothing like restraint or common sense stood in their way.” (Roger Ebert)


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    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for commenting xxxxx

    • profile image

      xxxxx 6 years ago

      I love this movie, fasincting story on a gret movie.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      I should have mentioned Jane Wyatt first appeared as Amanda in Journey to Babel, I somehow missed it.

      One of the useful things with having comments on our hubs is that we can add more facts, trivia and anecdotes.

      Thanks for posting Rob, it is appreciated.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      This was a fun, comical installment of the series. The classic TV show used to occasionally do an episode just for laughs (The Trouble with Tribbles, a Piece of the Action, I Mudd) and this is in the same zone. The original Star Trek always handled humor much better than The Next Generation did.

      Nimoy is one of the best directors for the Star Trek franchise because he really knows the characters and the actors, so he brings out the best in them.

      I was pleasantly surprised that there was no backlash against the environmental message. I expected a lot of cries of "liberal propaganda" but there were none. I guess people enjoyed the film so much they didn't even realize there was a message.

      It was good to see Mark Leonard back as Sarak and Jane Wyatt reprising her role as Amanda. They'd both been in the old series episode "Journey to Babel".

      I can only speculate as to whether or not a co-starring appearance by Eddie Murphy would have worked. I'm inclined to think not because the focus of a Star Trek film should be on the Crew and I'm guessing Murphy's part would have stolen the limelight from Kirk and company.

      A fun Trek movie. Thanks for another 'Trek' down memory lane.


    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Flora, Cogerson thanks for the comments, most appreciated.

      Flora, I've read that the scene where Chekov and Uhura are asking for directions and the female extra stops to help was all ad libbed and left in the film.

      Cogerson, I'm relieved Eddie Murphy passed on the film, it might have been funny then, but today we'd be cringing at the mere mention of the film. When I was young I thought it was cool that Richard Pryor was in a Superman flick. I loved his stand up shows. But now Superman III is just embarassing to watch.

      Star Trek IV has so many great lines I didn't know which to pick for the hub, if I post too much I'd have to rename the hub Illustrated Screenplay. :)

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      I love this movie....I think it was so successful because you did not have to be a Trekkie to like the film...this movie helped expand Star Trek nation as it brought in many new fans.

      I can only imagine what Eddie Murphy would have been like in this movie....probably pretty close to Richard Pryor in Superman 3...and that movie did not turn out is actually amazing that Murphy did not get his way, because at the time we was the King of Paramount.

      It is a shame that Nimoy did not direct anymore Star Trek movies...but he does provide an excellent DVD commentary to the of the interesting things he talks about is why they parked the ship in a park with a cloaking save money by having an invisible spaceship....genius move.

      And finally I agree with you...this movie is filled with great lines....a fun movie to watch.....voted up and awesome.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I remember when the Challenger exploded after takeoff. I was days away from turning 10 years old.

      Leonard Nimoy is a strong director. He has had a successful career behind the camera, despite the number of films he has directed not being large.

      I adore Broke Peters. The eulogy of Peck's funeral also included him singing. He had a beautiful singing voice. In Carmen Jones, he played a military officer, but it is his singing you hear in "Toreador" when the boxer is singing his solo.

      This film was a lot of fun even though it is no where near as interesting plot wise as the two before it. I love them wondering around 1986 Earth. They didn't expect anyone to give them a good enough answer to their questions for the film, but that ad lib about directions was great. I wonder whether the "actor" who answered the question was careful to stay in "character" so as to make it into the film or if being in California you expect to see all manner of famous people wearing pancake makeup on their breaks walking down the sidewalk.