When Adams and his crew are sent to investigate the silence from a planet inhabited by scientists, he finds all but two have died. Dr. Morbius and his daughter Altaira have somehow survived a hideous monster which roams the planet. Unknown to Adams, Morbius has made a discovery, and has no intention of sharing it (or his daughter!) with anyone. Written by
Louis Barron and Bebe Barron worked on the electronic soundtrack music "tonalities" for only three months, the length of time given them by Dore Schary, head of MGM. He authorized the studio to send them a complete workprint on Christmas 1955. They received the complete 35mm Eastmancolor workprint on New Year's 1956, a week later, still with many visual effects sequences missing and timed in with blank leader by editor Ferris Webster. From 1/1/1956 to 4/1/1956 they worked on the soundtrack score in their Greenwich Village studio in New York City while the film was in post-production in Culver City, CA. The score was completed and delivered to MGM on April 1, 1956, and the film was released for a studio sneak preview soon afterward. The musicians' union, however, objected to the soundtrack and blocked the Barrons from being credited as "composers", hence the term "electronic tonalities". See more »
When Morbius gives the coordinates for the ship to land, he uses "standard charts" including a latitude of 83° north - which would be deep in the arctic area of the planet. See more »
Commander John J. Adams:
I'm in command of 18 competitively selected super-perfect physical specimens with an average age of 24.6 who have been locked up in hyperspace for 378 days. It would have served you right if I hadn't... and he... oh go on, get out of here before I have you run out of the area under guard - and then I'll put more guards on the guards!
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Incredible special effects and a somewhat compelling pulp plot
A flying saucer manned (literally) by a crew of about 20 male space explorers travels hundreds of millions of light years from earth to check in on a colony founded some 25 years ago on a 'forbidden planet.' What they find is a robot more advanced than anything imaginable on earth, a beautiful and totally socially inept young woman, and her father, a hermit philologist haunted by more than the demons of the ancient civilization he has immersed himself in.
On the surface, this story is a pulp scifi murder mystery. Some compare it to Shakespeare's Tempest, but this is a stretch, and, in some ways, an insult to the scifi genre. Stripped of what makes it a scifi film, sure, its The Tempest, but how many hundreds of films can you say something similar about?
Underneath, this is a cautionary tale about progress and technology and the social evolution necessary for its appropriate and safe use. Yet the film still proceeds with all the hopefulness for our future that we have come to expect from shows like Star Trek.
Anne Francis is not the only reason why this film is best described as beautiful. The special effects, and even the aesthetics of the backdrops are powerful enough to make the uninspired directing and uneven acting almost unnoticeable. If it were not for the goofy retro-art-deco-ness of 1950s sci-fi props, you might think you were watching a 1960s piece.
This is a classic of that very special sub-genre of sci fi I like to call 1950s sci-fi, and, though not, in my opinion, the best it is certainly a must see for anybody interested in sci-fi film and special effects. The clever plot, now rendered trite by its reuse in six or seven episodes of Star Trek, Lost in Space, and even Farscape, is worth paying attention to, and will sustain the interest of most scifi fans. Trekkers will be particularly interested in the various aspects of the film which seem to have inspired themes of Star Trek's original series aired about 12 years later, though they may find themselves disappointed by the (relatively mild) 1950s sexism and the lack of any kind of racial integration. While I do not mean to nitpick, the lack of social progress manifest in this film was the one major problem I had with it.
Some will probably see this film simply to catch a glimpse of young, good-looking Leslie Nielsen in one of his first starring roles. Unfortunately, Nielsen's performance is only average, and at times down-right poor (especially at the climax of the film). Walter Pigeon, though quite excellent in other films, over-acts his role as well. Ms Francis, Earl Holliman, and the amazing Robby the Robot are the stand-out actors in this crowd, though on the whole the character actors filling in the ensemble do a good job. The problems with the featured performances, I think, are as much the fault of the director and the editor, as anything. Though they certainly got most of the film quite right.
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