That wild eyed Robbie looks pretty sexy up there, that girl poured all over his arms, with his bold stance and his provocative curves. Must be for the naughtier European release. I got me a fix of the more normal Robbie when I picked up the new 2 disc edition of Forbidden Planet yesterday. I watched almost all of it that night. Even without any commentaries it's still a nicely packed edition. There are some deleted scenes from the work print. They look pretty bad at times but are interesting from a historical or story aspect. The 1957 feature The Invisible Boy and an episode of The Thin Man tv series are included. Both have Robbie the Robot in a starring roll. There are three documentaries, two clips from MGM Parade hosted by Walter Pidgeon and his co-star Robbie, plus a real nice selection of 50's science fiction movie trailers.
Forbidden Planet looks great and it's a great movie. I can't begin to guess how many times I've seen this. Certainly more than 20 times. I saw it once in a theatre, over 30 years ago. Before video I used to watch it anytime it was on tv. I had a tape before I got a copy of the laserdisc. I still have the laserdisc but the tape got zaped. Who would want to watch a pan and scan full screen version. I need not to know that person. Widescreen is crutial to this movie. I hear that this is a pretty wide version. I haven't compared it to the laserdisc I have, there are people for that, but I know without looking that the picture is much better. Nice. Looks great on my tv, I'll tell ya.
I really enjoyed the featurettes. The longest at 55 min is the TCM original documentary Watch The Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950's and Us. Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott and James Cameron give their impressions of 50's films like The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Monolith Monsters, Destination Moon, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and Forbidden Planet. Mark Hamill narrates the essay, written by director Richard Schickel, that bridges all the clips and interviews. I like these conversation like documentaries. This is a good one, done by people who know and like these films, and I sure do like these films. Some of them are great movies. Better than their fine and entertaining brothers because they have that something extra. Something that makes good science fiction, classic science fiction. Forbidden Planet is a good example. It's got space ships and ray guns but it's monsters are monsters of the mind. It's a fairly complex story based somewhat on Shakespear's The Tempest. Not surprizingly it didn't make money the first run. People just weren't ready, age old story. The Id monster was great. Mgm hired a Disney animator, with Disney permission, named Joshua Meador. His list of credits is pretty amazing. He worked on The Old Mill, Dumbo and Fantasia just to name a few. The Day The Earth Stood Still is another better than average movie. The alien invaders are a guy and a robot, and they don't come to conquer. Just a warning to clean up our act and join the galactic fun bunch out amongst the stars, or, get your asses blowed up! You know I'd want to go. Especially with Anne Francis.
The other two documentaries are more FP focused. One has interviews with the stars, some more modern directors, some writers and Robbie designer Robert Kinoshita. These people discuss the movie and their part, and they all seem to have a great fondness for the film. The other featurette is about the building of Robbie the Robot. Both were really entertaining.
The Invisible Boy is a 1957 feature that MGM made to get more use from the highly expensive Robbie. Phillip Abbot plays the scientist who invents the super computer. His son lacks an interest in math or science. This bothers dad. Phil consults the super computer, which surprizingly does not have a name, and it asks him to bring the boy in for a "look at him." While there the computer hynotizes the boy and reveals to us the viewer that there are evil doin's afoot. Timmie, the now smarter son, builds Robbie out of some junk in the lab of his dad's co-worker. While this is going on the computer is slowly taking over some key men and using them to gain the knowledge to move his booby-trapped body into a space rocket. He wants to take over the world. And he was supposed to be a smart computer. Who would want that if they were smart. Eventually the day is saved. Not a great movie but entertaining mostly. It's one of the earliest movies that I know of with an evil super computer. Nothing as exciting as that image in the poster happens in the movie. There is a great interest out on the net for FP and Robbie. That yielded many links to fun pages.
The Thin Man episode with Robbie was called Robot Client. Peter Lawford plays Nick Charles and Phyllis Kirk plays Nora Charles. If you don't know who Nick and Nora are, you should learn. This is not a very interesting episode, even with the metal guy being accused of murder. Phyllis Kirk's eyes bug out too much. Maybe not as bad as Barbara Steele. I didn't care for her. I wouldn't buy the series based on this episode. That could save me time to watch something I really like. The Thin Man film series perhaps.