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Forbidden Planet

USA 1956
produced by
Nicholas Nayfack for MGM
directed by Fred M. Wilcox
starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman, George Wallace, Robert Dix, Jimmy Thompson, James Drury, Harry Harvey jr, Roger McGee, Peter Miller, Morgan Jones, Richard Grant, Marvin Miller (voice), James Best, William Boyett, Les Tremayne (voice), Robby the Robot operated by Frankie Darro
story by Irving Block, Allen Adler, screenplay by Cyril Hume, based on the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare, music by Bebe Barron, Louis Barron, special effects by A. Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe, Irving G. Ries, animation effects by Joshua Meador, Robby the Robot designed by A. Arnold Gillespie, Robert Kinoshita

Robby the Robot

review by
Mike Haberfelner



The 22nd century: Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his crew land their cruiser on the planet Altair 4 to check up on a science expedition that has spent the last 20 years on the planet. But initially, Morbius (Walter Pigeon), leader of that expedition, is less than happy about the visitors and only reluctantly gives them landing coordinates, where he has picked up Adams and other higher ranking officers by his robot Robby (operated by Frankie Darro, voiced by Marvin Miller), a creature that's pretty much capable of anything. At Morbius' place, Adams and company learn that the rest of Morbius' expedition were mysteriously killed shortly after arrival, but they also meet his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis), a natural and somewhat uninhibited beauty who has never seen men other than her father, and who greatly attracts Adams' crew, especially since she has a predilection for wearing very short and revealing dresses. At first, Adams tries to explain to her the effect she has on his men, and she hates him for it, but it's not long before they fall in love. Meanwhile, Adams has to radio in to Central Command as to the fate of the expedition and await further orders, something that might take days as a radio strong enough has to be pieced together from parts of the ship, plus it will take the message some time to travel through space and back - and here's where trouble begin as an invisible force sabotages the men's efforts to make the radio, ultimately even attacks Adams' men. Morbius figures whatever has been attacking the men must be the same force that killed the other expedition members back when, which must have to do with the alien technology they found on the planet, that Morbius has ultimately used to make Altair 4 a paradise for himself and his daughter. However, it ultimately turns out that this technology is somehow connected to Morbius' brain, and the arrival of Adams and company has only triggered the worst within him and has subconsciously created the invisible monsters that attack the space ship and her crew. Something Morbius only can admit to himself when he's almost too late, and ultimately he can only stop the monster, which has by now taken on a will on its own and threatens even him and Altaira, by dying himself, while Adams, what's left of his crew and Altaira and Robby manage to leave the planet before it's blown to smithereens via self destruct mode Morbius asked Adams to trigger with his dying breath ...

 

In the 1950s, the science fiction genre was by and large relegated to B movie drive-in fodder (with notable exceptions of course), and as enjoyable as these movies might be, these films often had a rushed feel to them, from script to effects work and everything in between. And then came Forbidden Planet, a film with a sizeable budget, state-of-the-art special effects, wonderful sets (even if they look a bit dated and of the painted-on variety today), a plot that has psychological depth to it (and borrows from the best, William Shakespeare) while still providing plenty of action and quite a bit of titliation without ever going vulgar, and some dialogue much more poignant than the genre's known for. Plus its entirely electronic score sounds otherworldly even now.

That all said, don't get me wrong, this is not a perfect movie, it still has its share of cardboard characters, leaps of reason, and narrative shortcuts. And frankly however innovative the score still sounds, it grows a bit repetitive and lacking in variety over the course of the film. But its still a fun trip down memory lane, and while maybe not a masterwork in every sense of the word, then still a deserved classic.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD