Forbidden Planet 1956

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Forbidden Planet was MGM’s lavish entry into the pantheon of great 1950’s Science-Fiction Films.  The plot was loosely based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” (I never read it either, but there’s a recent film version with Helen Mirren, maybe I should check it out).  The film begins in space, aboard Starship C-57D as it approaches the planet Altair IV.  The crew is tasked with determining the fate of a previous expedition to same planet (some 20 years before). Prior to landing, they are contacted by a survivor of that expedition, the scientist Morbius (one of the coolest Science-Fiction names, by the way, up there with Klaatu), and are warned not to land, due to some unspecified danger.  Of course, they stubbornly land anyways, and are greeted by Morbius, his nubile young daughter Altaira and their super cool robot named Robby.  They appear to be living comfortably in an ultra modern house beautifully situated in the alien landscape of Altair IV (sort of looks like the desert southwest but with green skies).  But, there is a terrifying invisible monster lurking out there, which seems bent on killing members of the crew of C-57D (but does not seem to have a beef with Morbius & his daughter).  Also, it turns out, Morbius’s house is situated above the remnants of an extinct civilization called the Krell, and in an impressive reveal, Morbius gives the Captain and a few crew members a tour of a vast (still functioning) underground Krell city which fucking blows their minds to say the least.  Morbius demonstrates a Krell machine which sort of lets you fabricate shit right out of your own mind.  Turns out, that machine, why the Krell went extinct, and what the hell the invisible monster is, are all related.

Here’s an interesting documentary on Forbidden Planet (in 2 parts):

One of the ground breaking things about the film was the the electronic “score” created by  Bebe and Louis Barron (which is discussed in part 2 of the documentary).  Here’s a great short video where the great Sound Designer Ben Burtt re-creates some of the sound for Forbidden Planet, explaining how it was done using 1950’s technology:

Son of Kong: stop-motion fight scenes

These scenes are from Son of Kong, the justly neglected 1933 sequel to King Kong.  Most of the original Kong cast & crew contributed to this film, which was marketed as a comedy.  Few would argue that this film captures any of the awesomeness that imbued its predecessor, and it remains a seldom-seen historical curiosity.  However, the stop-motion scenes of the main character, a smaller & friendlier albino version of Kong, have an infantile charm to them.  And who among you can not shed a tear when his whole world literally crumbles and sinks into the ocean (when a devastating earthquake strikes Skull Island).

Russ Meyer, Film-Maker “King of the Nudies”

I’ve been suffering from “bloger block” this month and wanted to get up at least one measly post before the end of the month.  Looking at my Lobby Card collection for inspiration, I decided to feature Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, and subsequently got sucked into YouTube looking for a trailer.  Instead, I decided to feature this hilarious clip from another Meyer film MotorPsycho, involving a rattlesnake.  I didn’t come up with “King of the Nudies”, it’s on Russ Meyer’s gravestone.

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Hey!  I did not realize that the actor featured in the MotorPsycho rattlesnake scene was Alex Rocco, famous for portraying Moe Greene in the Godfather!

Bond, James Bond

Super-suave 32 year old Sean Connery utters the iconic catchphrase “Bond, James Bond” for the first time, in the very first Bond movie Dr. No .  This was not the first Bond movie I saw, that was Goldfinger*, which I enjoyed so much that I sat through 2 consecutive viewings in the theatre.  Goldfinger was a big hit, so they re-issued the first 2 Bond films:  Dr. No and From Russia with Love (the films were yet to be shown on TV, back than if you wanted to see a movie, you went to the theatre).   Dr. No also featured Joseph Wiseman in the title role (the first Bond villain!), in a very tightly controlled performance, a study in stillness & menace.  Here’s a scene where Bond tries to get under Dr. No’s skin.

*Goldfinger:  the best Bond Title song!

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