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Tobor the Great (1954)

Approved | | Sci-Fi | 1 September 1954 (USA)
A young boy-genius befriends his grandfather's robot, designed as a test pilot for space travel and coveted by foreign spies.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Drake ...
Dr. Ralph Harrison
Karin Booth ...
Janice Roberts
...
Brian 'Gadge' Roberts
Taylor Holmes ...
Prof. Arnold Nordstrom
Steven Geray ...
The Foreign Spy-Chief
Henry Kulky ...
Paul - Spy-Henchman
Franz Roehn ...
Karl
Hal Baylor ...
Max - Spy-Henchman
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Storyline

As projected here, a thinly-disguised NASA, working with nuclear rockets, is ready for manned flights in the mid-fifties...but Dr. Ralph Harrison doesn't think so, and resigns in protest. Colleague Prof. Nordstrom promptly enlists his aid in developing an alternative robot Spaceman! Naturally, foreign spies are keenly interested... Uses documentary footage of early space research. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Man-Made monster with every human emotion

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Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

1 September 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vingança do Monstro  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

A thug rips open the back of Gadge's shirt, which is back in one piece soon after. See more »

Quotes

Brian 'Gadge' Robertson: Gee, Tobor, you're wonderful!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Endearingly Clunky Relic
26 August 2009 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

I have to admit having a soft spot for TOBOR THE GREAT, but not for the reasons one might expect. Oh sure, the robot is great, a towering behemoth of tin cans and toasters welded together into a clattering, somewhat clunky suit. He doesn't have much of a personality but he's cool. The scenes where Tobor goes postal and sets off to right wrongs are the best, especially when little Timmy is threatened by the bad Slavic accented spies who want to force his kindly scientist grandpa into spilling his state secrets for them.

And it's here where my interest in the film kicks in. It's a very subtle bit of indoctrination for young viewers into the wonders of America's cold war military industrial complex disguised as a giant rampaging robot movie. The heroes are all sharply uniformed military men or scientists working to further America's dominance in the space race, and the bad guys are all thugs who work for a foreign power with a vested interest in disrupting their progress. They probably don't even celebrate Christmas.

The film is rife with military lingo, helpful Air Force officers, well intentioned grandfatherly politicians who understand the need to keep secrets from the public, and little Timmy eagerly helping things along by his own deft contributions to ensuring for the common defense. It's a great little study about how national security really begins with each of us and our need for vigilance (sound familiar, War On Terror veterans?), hard work, and personal sacrifice. The biggest laugh comes in the opening monologue's passage regarding congress supposedly granting unlimited funding to the Tobor project -- those were the days!

The most interesting character in the film is actually the reporter, absurdly named Gilligan. He's a hard working leathershoe journalist who is determined to break his big story but is sympathetic to the government quashing his efforts when it comes to keeping the marvel of Tobor's development a secret from our enemies, and our friends. Everybody pitches in, including the shapely mom with her fresh, clean, good looks, representing that which we fight to protect back at home, which looks like Ward Cleaver's house. And just like the Beaver's mom I bet she'd be an animal in bed.

The big robot and his flashing lights & funky metallic shoes are just window dressing to keep the kids' interest -- and make no mistake, this film was aimed squarely at the bright 6 to 12 year old future defense industry workers in the audience. The lesson being that if you do well in school, mind your manners at home, and take an active role in the community you too might one day get to build friendly robotic soldiers who are immune to human weaknesses. It's a pretty fun little movie too and a harmless diversion for 9 year olds of all ages.

6/10


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