Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Return of Shane (1966)

 

When it comes to classic TV, you never know what show is going to hop out of the vault and make it onto DVD.  Or in some cases, whether a classic series is being left to waste away in the vault.  (I’m looking at you Disney and those classic shows from World of Color/Disney).   Some series you think should be released never are, and some you didn't think would ever see the light of day again,  end up in the marketplace. 

That’s how I would categorize this release.  Shane, based on the classic movie from 1953 that starred Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, and Brandon De Wilde.  It ran less than one full season (10 episodes), and starred the late David Carradine and the late Jill Ireland who was married to both David McCallum of NCIS and Charles Bronson.  Carradine would go on to star in the Wester/Martial Arts mix known as Kung Fu, a series that had a three season run in the seventies.(Don’t mistake it for the remake which also starred Carradine).

The only thing I can tell you is that at the time, I thought it was a really good show, although I have no memory of individual episodes.  I think its short run had more to do with some pretty heavy competition, and the fact that it was a more quiet story driven Western then the usual shoot ‘em up people were used to.  Unfortunately it also came at a time when the popularity of Westerns was just beginning to fade.

The series premiered in 1966,
and holds a lofty 7.1 rating on the IMDB.  So obviously somebody besides me remembers it. 

While people continue to moan and groan about theatrical classics wasting away, there is hardly anything said about the many hundreds and hundreds of television series that are crumbling in some vault.  Many are gone forever.  These shows deserve better.  These shows tell as much about who we are and who we were as a nation at any given point in our history.  And for just about anybody, this stuff is all new material since you’ve never seen it before, and all of it is a million times better and more fulfilling then turning into the endless reality bullshit cranked out like so much waste products these days.

As for Shane, the price is hovering between $14 and $16.  That averages out to about $1.40 an episode.

These TV shows are heavy with guest appearances by well known actors and actresses, some who would go on to win many movie and TV awards.  For instance, guests appearing in Shane include Robert Duvall, Wayne Rogers, James Whitmore, Diane Ladd, Charles Grodin, J.D. Cannon, J. Pat O’Malley, Daniel J. Travanti, Constance Ford, Joseph Campanella and many more.

If you’re interested either click the picture or use the ad (turn off adblock).  I’ve already ordered mine and release date is in March.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What Do These Songs Have In Common?


1. Mistletoe and Wine, Sir Cliff Richard (1988)
2. Blue Christmas, Shakin' Stevens (1985)
3. Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses (1981)
4. Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys (1963)
5. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey (1994)
6. When A Child Is Born, Jonny Mathis (1972)
7. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), The Darkness (2003)
8. Do They Know It’s Christmas? Band Aid 20 (2004)
9. Merry Christmas Baby, Mae West (1960)
10. Wonderful Christmas, Paul McCartney (1979)


I guess it depends on your taste in music.  But these were the ten finalists in a most hated Christmas Songs contest held in 2013 by the British coffee house chain, Costa Coffee.  I ran across this list because I was looking up some information on song number one, Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine, a Christmas tune I was unfamiliar with but was going to add to my collection which tells you a lot about my shitty taste in Christmas Carols.

The prize for the winner of this dubious distinction was banned from being played in all of Costa Coffee’s stores. 

Sir Cliff Richard's singles may be as synonymous with Christmas as turkeys and tinsel, but you won't hear them in Costa Coffee during this festive period. The British coffee house chain has banned Sir Cliff's yuletide number Mistletoe and Wine from their 1,600 stores after the 73-year-old's song was named the most hated Christmas song of all time in a poll. Songs by Sir Paul McCartney, Shakin' Stevens and Band Aid 20 also made the top-10 list, based on Costa's survey of 3,000 Brits. Kevin Hydes, Costa's UK retail marketing director, said the song would be banned from all Costa's in-store playlists over the Christmas season because "the festive happiness of our customers and staff is our upmost priority".

In an effort to rejuvenate familiar Christmas songs, Costa has given £10,000 to Youth Music, a charity which gives young people the opportunity to make music to overcome personal challenges in their lives.

How popular was Mistletoe and Wine at one time? Damn popular I guess until the Brits got tired of overplay and it became more like Stilted toes and Whine than anything to do with Christmas.

Mistletoe and Wine became Sir Cliff's 12th number one single when it was released in 1988. It spent four weeks at the top of the UK chart, and sold over 750,000 copies that year. It also secured the 1988 Christmas number one spot. Sir Cliff's other Christmas hits include Saviour's Day and Millenium Prayer.

Sir Cliff Richard's singles may be as synonymous with Christmas as turkeys and tinsel, but you won't hear them in Costa Coffee during this festive period. The British coffee house chain has banned Sir Cliff's yuletide number Mistletoe and Wine from their 1,600 stores after the 73-year-old's song was named the most hated Christmas song of all time in a poll. Songs by Sir Paul McCartney, Shakin' Stevens and Band Aid 20 also made the top-10 list, based on Costa's survey of 3,000 Brits. Kevin Hydes, Costa's UK retail marketing director, said the song would be banned from all Costa's in-store playlists over the Christmas season because "the festive happiness of our customers and staff is our upmost priority". In an effort to rejuvenate familiar Christmas songs, Costa has given £10,000 to Youth Music, a charity which gives young people the opportunity to make music to overcome personal challenges in their lives.
Mistletoe and Wine became Sir Cliff's 12th number one single when it was released in 1988. It spent four weeks at the top of the UK chart, and sold over 750,000 copies that year. It also secured the 1988 Christmas number one spot. Sir Cliff's other Christmas hits include Saviour's Day and Millenium Prayer.
But maybe you love the song and can’t get enough of it. If that should be the case you can buy it at Amazon and Maybe I’ll make two or three cents. Use the ad link, turn off your blocker to see it. Merry Christmas

Quill Pen How Do You Brighten Up My Day?

You write up a pretty good takedown of the Ebola of Texas known as Rick Perry, and the state of Texas that continually gives refuge to these diseases.  I have no regard for Perry at all, and damn little regard for Texas at all.  Funny how a state that likes to talk about how big they are is the stomping ground for so many backwards thinking small minded politicians and the people who keep them in office.

This entertained me so much, I just had to share.  Here are some highlights but you can read this essay “No Texas Messiah: A Requiem for Rick Perry” in its entirety at Politics USA:

Governor Rick Perry is another in a growing collection of Republican banditti, though one with less personal integrity than his more famous counterpart across the border, Pancho Villa, who at least was fighting for more than personal aggrandizement.

Pancho Villa actually cared about the future of Mexico. Rick Perry cares only about his own future. The United States does not enter into the picture. In the old days, the Texas Rangers would have been hunting Rick Perry down. In today’s Texas, he was their boss.

It must be remembered here that Perry (and this is to take nothing away from Perry’s complete lack of a moral compass) is a symptom of a greater ill: Texas. Under Republican governance, Texas has produced not only Rick Perry, but George W. Bush, and now provides refuge for Allen West, who couldn’t summon sufficient IQ points to qualify as a Floridian.

Texas is also a state in which Perry’s successor as Governor, the equally unethical Greg Abbott, can meet with a “patriot” militia leader (and shake his hand) days before his arrest on weapons charges, and still win election to governor.

And I haven’t even mentioned Rick Perry’s mythical “Texas Miracle” yet: In Two Sentences Team Obama Shatters The Myth Of Rick Perry’s Texas Miracle. That’s right, there is no Texas miracle, unless you’re a corporation, in which case you can blow Texans up with impunity…….


…………That’s right, you can check all the boxes: Rick Perry hates immigrants, hates women, loves himself some Religious Right theocrats, and hates gays. He’s a Republican all right, bona fides confirmed. And that doesn’t even get into his gun infatuation (because everybody needs a grenade launcher)………..

……..at a big speech he forgot what state he was in, or when he said America’s ally, Turkey, is our enemy. Here we had Bachmann fearful of the Soviet Union, two decades gone, and Rick Perry who wants to attack our allies.

And then there was the time Gaffer-in-Chief Rick Perry thought Solyndra was a country. Considering he once wanted to invade Mexico (a dream he shares with fellow GOP border bandit Sheriff Joe Arpaio), Solyndra should be worried……..

………And I’ll just let Rick Perry’s belief that he can pray away drought and other problems speak for itself. The thought of a president who thinks he can pray away problems also speaks for itself.

Perry is leaving center stage now, and thinking about a bigger venue – President of the United States – which is pretty funny because the secessionist tenther once entertained the idea of being President of Texas. Of course, if Texas Republicans get their way, he may still get that chance.

Which would negate my earlier concerns about Santa Anna’s generalship.

But Rick Perry’s ego is bigger than his prospects will ever be. A new bandit has taken his place in Austin, and Perry wants to take his crime spree to the nation’s capital. But stature-wise, Perry is nothing more than a male version of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann.


As I said, you can read the article in its entirety at Politics USA and it’s well worth your time.  You will be entertained.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey–Hot or not?

I’m still leaning towards not.  I think someone chickened out when faced with the reality of the explicitness of the Fifty Shades of Grey novel.  Whether it was Universal Studios (my guess in an attempt to hedge its investment) or the actors or the director, or choose your own culprit(s).  If it was Universal, the irony will be that they could possibly have actually hurt themselves more than help themselves.  Ask anybody who has read the book: Cleanliness is not next to Godliness in this case.

Possibly at least one actor could be a fly in the ointment as well which makes you think that because of Charlie Hunnam’s unexpected departure, they were forced into signing Dornan with not much time to consider too many alternatives. 

In a recent interview Jamie Dornan came off as a stodgy really uptight prude to the point where he had it written in the contract not to show his penis on film.  So he’s going to have to be one helluva actor to be convincing as Christian Grey.  In a key role, Dornan may be a huge mistake.

 

Dakota Johnson on the other hand, at least has a hint of being Anastasia Steele and appears to be willing to go the distance. 


At any rate, Universal’s Focus Features will try to convince you with this trailer that Fifty Shades is going to be really hot, even if they did clean it up for the mass consumption of audiences while crapping on those who made the book a phenomenon in the first place.  But I’ll let you decide for yourself.  Trailer 2:  Hot or Not.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Vegas Musical Based on Dork Dynasty? Hold Your Nose.


Las Vegas is going to become a less pleasant place to visit.  Anybody who would spend money to see a play based on these bigoted disgusting holier than thou bearded shitheads  really really need to take a lesson in lifting up their self esteem.  Why punish yourself?

Better that you do something useful like put that money into a slot or playing the roulette wheel.  The only thing you'll get from watch this over glorified crap is the need to immediately head to your hotel room and take a shower to wash off the stench. 

Forget that.  The putrid stink of this endeavor is liable to blanket the entire West.  Keep it up, Uhmer’ca.  Soon, we can go back to living in the age of Neanderthal Man.

So how much are they going to white wash these bigoted homphobic jerks?  Probably a lot.

Variety:

“We’ve enjoyed the process of making a musical alongside the team who is interested in telling the Robertson family story from an outside perspective,” Willie Robertson, chief executive of the Robertson company Duck Commander, told the Times.

“The Robertsons are so unusual, their story so juicy, and theater shouldn’t be limited to telling stories about people you resemble or revere,” said David.

Jeff Calhoun (“Newsies”) serves as the musical’s director, according to the Times, and Steven Morris is a composer.

The news comes nearly a year after the family drew massive criticism — as well as support — for Phil Robertson’s anti-gay comments, made in an interview with GQ in December 2013. A&E suspended him after the remarks went public, though it ended the suspension later that month.



The only good thing about this is inspired me to come up with a new label for stuff like this. File this project under totally worthless crap.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Redbox Mucks Up Their Web Page Some More. I Think I’m Done.

Sometimes, you have to wonder what goes through some the mind of some corporate web designers or the big shot executives who tell them what to do.  Lately, any time Redbox has decided to tinker with their web site, they manage to really muck it up. 

I’ve always had my little quibbles with Redbox.  Many of their practices are hardly consumer friendly and they seem to be totally unwilling to make the effort to change.  Make a complaint and you’ll get a brush off.  Oh yeah, occasionally they’ll try to give you a free rental when what they should be giving you is a refund for their incompetence.

You may know that drill.  You reserve a movie and you go over to get it from the machine a few hours later and the machine is broken and not working.  And since you have no clue as to when it might be working again you can either accept your losses or call the Redbox number where the poor patsy on the other end of the phone will try to shove that rental credit on your ass, even if you have no idea when you might get to use it.

Refund?  That would be too much trouble.  After all they don’t really want to give you your money back even though its no fault of yours the machine wasn’t working.  Because that would inconvenience them, and one thing corporate big wigs don’t like is to be inconvenienced.  Better the customer put up with their lousy policies and bullshit nonsense instead of issuing a damn credit on your Visa. 

I can hear them now:

”Hey what’s the big deal?  We have a few million customers so why does one poor shlub in some hick town matter?  Let him/her get pissed off.  Beside, where the hell else are they going to go?  Blockbuster is no longer around, and Netflix takes forever.  We’re practically a monopoly so why should we give a damn?”

Yeah, I think that’s the same attitude Blockbuster took for years and look at them now.

One time I had four movies on reserve at a particular store that has two Redbox machines.  They were in Machine B.  Of course when I went to pick up the movies, it was machine B that wasn’t working at all.  It had even been unplugged to keep people from trying to use it.

This time I called the Redbox number on my cell phone right there in the store.  Basically their answer was that I was shit out of luck.  Could you switch my movie rentals to Machine A since all four movies were in that machine ready to be rented.  Nope, couldn’t do anything like that.  That would be too difficult. 

Could I get a refund?  Nope, and you could almost hear the person on the other end chuckling to themselves over that idiotic notion.

What they could do was give me a credit and I could rent the movies.  Well, eventually I could.  The problem was that their computer, which must be a Commodore 64 the way they run things, would continue to show me with four movies reserved until that reservation ran the clock out.  And the limit on movie reservations at one time is 5.

Therefore, I couldn’t even use the credit until after 9:00 the next night when I would have no use for the damn things because we in the real world have to work this thing called a job. 

There have been other instances as well and if you do a few searches on the internet, you’ll read some real horror stories.  But honestly, with their latest act of corporate stupidity and uselessness, I think I’m done.  You finally have to draw the line somewhere just to keep your sanity.  You can’t say, “What were they thinking?” because obviously they weren’t, and they don’t.  Sometimes policies are invented just to annoy you.

It used to be when you went on the Redbox web site, after having saved “your locations” you could click on one of them and see what was in that particular machine at that location at that moment in time.  If a movie wasn’t showing either it wasn’t in the machine or all copies were checked out.  If they were all checked out you could scroll to the bottom of the page and see a somewhat faded entity marked “not available.”  Pretty simple.  Then you would just click on one of your other locations (if there was one) to see if the DVD or Blu-ray was there, or just choose something else.

In my case, there are three Redbox Vending Machines within a half mile or so radius from where I live.  One of these is just two blocks away.  After that, you have to travel eight miles to the next Redbox and unless you have Quaker Oats for brains, you’re not going to make that trip.  You’ll just wait for the movie to arrive or be checked in or whatever.

But now you no longer know if it’s in or not because Redbox Executives in their infinite wisdom decided to no longer make it readily apparent whether a movie was at your chosen location or not.  Now, they simply list all their movies available at all locations, whether it’s checked out or not or whether its in the machine or not.   In my town, which seems to be last on the delivery list, this often happens.  What a machine in the big city may get on Tuesday, we may get by Friday, if we’re lucky.

So now when you click on a title that’s not even at the location you are browsing, it says “Find DVD nearby” instead of just telling you the damn thing wasn’t there in the first place.  And just checking one certain movie right now, I’d have to drive 30 miles to get it.  Some recommendation that is.

 

Why the change?  Why not just tell you up front that a movie is not at the location you’re browsing and let you make your own choice as to whether to check a box that isn’t 30 miles away?  It worked for me just fine.

Because like politicians, Redbox thinks you’re too stupid to do that.  And I guess they think somebody’s willing to spend $10 worth of gas to drive to a Redbox and get $1.20 movie so they might as well make that sales pitch for the stupid people.  It’s just idiotic and unnecessary.  And worse, you still don’t know if all copies of that movie are all just checked out or if it even arrived at that location yet.  IF ITS NOT AT THAT LOCATION JUST SAY SO INSTEAD OF ME JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS TO FIND THAT OUT!

Really, I think I’m done.  I’ll just order them from Netflix.  It may take longer sometimes, but at least I can watch them at my leisure and not deal with the frustrating antics of Redbox and their total disregard for customer convenience.  I can only be annoyed jumping through corporate hoops before I change the game plan.  Having helped do Blockbuster in, I don’t think copying that company’s little regard for their customers is a great idea.  I’m sure with all their customers, Redbox won’t miss me.  But I won’t miss them either.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Clyde’s Movie Palace: Forbidden Planet (1956)




One thing you don’t know about me is that I’m a William Shakespeare fanatic.  Especially when it comes to his movie screenplays.

Shakespeare has written some incredible scripts like West Side Story, Gnomeo & Juliet, 10 Things I Hate About You, McLintock, L.A. Story, O, and many many more.  It’s my opinion that they should give old Bill a posthumous Best Original Screenplay Oscar because of the shitpot full of movies adapted from his plays.  When you consider that they didn't invent the movie camera until a few hundred years after he croaked, that’s one helluva accomplishment.  Maybe The Bard will get his honorary Oscar at the same time as Maureen O’Hara and Doris Day who are still out there somewhere waiting for theirs. (One was announced for O'Hara at the next Oscars after I wrote this, but Doris is still waiting.)

So maybe Shakespeare didn’t personally write those screenplays.  It's also quite possible that he’s rolling over in his grave over some of the cinematic crap Hollywood has churned out using his hard work as fodder for the Box Office.  It couldn’t have been easy writing all that out by hand with those feathers.

Any direct heirs of the old guy left the planet long long ago, but even if they were still around they they would be paupers because residual rights dried up a couple of centuries ago.  This is despite the fact that the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court bent over and kissed the Major Studio’s (Yes, Disney, I’m looking at you) ass by extending copyrights here in the states to apparently infinity for corporations (Screw you and your lobbyists, Disney), once again proving that money talks, money walks, and that money is everything. 

I hear you can make a fortune in Copyright Law in this country.  Sign up now at the University of Arizona and get an education that will bankrupt you into the next three or four decades. 

The first time that I saw Forbidden Planet at a very young age in glorious hazy grey-scaled black and white, I immediately recognized it as being derived from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.  I was very much into Shakespeare at the age of nine or ten, and could recite his works from memory.   I was a child prodigy. 

I know.  Enough of the bullshit.  Let’s proceed.

I didn’t really find out that Forbidden Planet was eternally linked to The Tempest until much later in life.  Every person who has ever reviewed the damn thing goes out of their way to let us know that they too studied Shakespeare at a very young age except when they really didn’t.  Thus they can prove that their knowledge and expertise goes far beyond just cranking out some movie reviews for some web site.  They have a real appreciation of the fine arts. 

Wikipedia states this about The Tempest:
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the eponymous tempest, to lure his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to the island. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's lowly nature, the redemption of the King, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand. 

Sounds simple enough, even if we aren't told how Miranda feels about all this. To some degree Forbidden Planet does follow that plot line.  But if you follow the Wikipedia link, don’t scroll down to the complete plot synopsis.  It’ll only confuse you.


Instead of Prospero we have Dr. Prospero Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) who is a scientist and certainly not a duke of anything.  Nor does he aspire to be one as far as I can tell.  Nor is there any brother mentioned of any kind. Good, bad, or indifferent. 

He does have a daughter, Miranda Altaira “Alta” Morbius (Anne Francis), but her father doesn’t want to restore her to anything, let alone marry her off. 

Father and daughter are not exactly on an island either.  It’s a planet way out there somewhere in The Final Frontier as part of the Altair Solar System, which means Mr. and Mrs. Morbius named their daughter after the planet they were living on.  Or maybe it was the Sun.  Or even the whole solar system.  Who the hell knows?

Yeah, I have three sons myself.  This movie makes me think that I quite possibly should have named them Pluto, Uranus, and Saturn.    Well, maybe not Uranus.  The kids at school would have had too much fun with that one.  But just to save later confusion, if it has a 4 at the end, I’m writing about the planet.  No 4 but with an a instead, and I’m writing about the daughter.  If I make a typo and forget who or what I’m writing about we’re all screwed.  So try to keep up.

Mrs. Morbius is no longer around.  No, she didn’t catch the first passing Federation Starship out of the galaxy but croaked some time back because she would  have been in the way of the plot.

There are absolutely no other living humans hanging out on this spacious but suspicious celestial outpost.  Explanations will follow, and all of your questions will be answered except for the ones that aren’t because at some point you are supposed to actually watch the film.

As for summoning any male friends to Altair-4 for some hanky panky with Altaira, Dr. Morbius would rather not.  In fact, he likes the solitude the planet affords him and his daughter so that he can gather up scientific knowledge and share it with no one in particular.  I know I always want to keep my scientific data private and to myself.  Less mischief that way.

You never have to worry about any Republican stealing your scientific data though. They don't believe in science. Just ask Darwin.

You know the drill, the earth is flat, the sun revolves around the moon, Jeezus created the earth in seven days and Noah built a pretty big boat.

And the less Altaira knows about such things as men, sex, anything penile related, and having any kind of Carnal Knowledge, the better and easier life is for Morbius.  But one can’t help but wonder what kind of explanation Morbius gave Altaira when she hit puberty and got her first monthly due bill.  Maybe it was the White Male Republican politician answer:  “It’s a gift from God sweetie telling  you how special you are.  Just enjoy it.  See you in a few days.”

And then there’s Robby.

Robby?  But didn’t I just say there was no one else living on the planet?  See, you really don’t pay attention do you?  I said there were no other living humans on the planet.  Robby, you see, is a robot.  And a damn cool one at that.  One of the coolest robots ever to grace the cinema and in some aspects, more advanced than the likes of R2D2 and C3PO. 

Robby can do some cool shit that those two couldn’t do on their best day.  He can make dresses with star sapphires for Altaira, he can build protective shielding to put around your futuristic house,  he can glide across the desert at speeds R2 and 3PO could only dream about, he can clean house, cook dinner, and manufacture 60 gallons of liquor out of thin air.  Take that, George Lucas.  He may not be able to co-pilot an X-Wing fighter or whine in a gazillion different galactic languages (Robbie maxes out at just over a hundred language and dialects), but he still trumps those two mechanical clunkers you dreamed up.

However,  Morbius doing research and watching Anne Francis prancing around an empty planet in skimpy 50’s science fiction type outfits does not a good movie make even if I personally believe watching Francis prance around in any movie dressed in anything is helluva great way to spend a couple of hours or even an hour and a half.  

So, despite the fact that Morbius has put up a no visitors allowed sign, they’re coming any way whether he likes it or not.  You should have phoned home, doc.

The opening narration explains it all:

In the final decade of the 21st Century, men and women in rocket ships landed on the moon. By 2200 AD, they had reached the other planets of our solar system. Almost at once there followed the discovery of hyperdrive through which the speed of light was first obtained and later greatly surpassed. And so, at last, mankind began the conquest and colonization of deep space. United Planets Cruiser C57D, now more than a year out from Earth Base on a special mission to the planetary system of the great main-sequence star "Altair."

Apparently the Starship Federation has been replaced with the United Planets.  Instead of the Enterprise we’re stuck spending time with Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and headed to Altair-4 to to find out what the hell happened to the Bellerophon Expedition. 

The Bellerophon landed on Altair-4 some 20 years earlier to set up shop and do research, meaning if you try using your imagination hard enough, you can almost hear Joe Diffie singing in the background:
“Cause and effect, chain of events,
All of the chaos makes perfect,
When we're spinnin' round,
Things come undone.
Welcome to Altair 4, 4th rock from the red sun.”

Having supposedly landed safely, the Belerephon Party went Belere-bellyup and were never heard from again.  In other words, although they could travel light years out into space, their communications systems pretty much sucked.  Do you know what that means? 

AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner still have a monopoly over the telecommunications industry, even in way out there outer space, and given a couple of hundred years they still haven’t managed to upgrade and we are still screwed.

So after 20 years without ET or anyone else phoning home,  I guess curiosity finally got the best of the “United Planets” and they decided to send some poor shmucks out as lambs to whatever slaughter awaits them.




Along for this space journey with Commander J.J. “don’t call me Kirk” Adams is the rest of the crew.  Some of them are, Lt. “Doc” Ostrow (Warren Stevens), Lt. Farman (Jack Kelly), Chief Quinn (Richard Anderson), and chief chef, dishwasher, and comedy relief known only as “Cook” (Earl Holliman).  I’m not sure if Cook is his last name, first name, or occupation, but you’ll go the whole film and not see him whip up one meal or clean one dirty dish despite wearing a cook’s apron and cap.  But that was never the intent.  An explanation is forthcoming.  Observe.



There are no women coming along on this spaceship because in 50’s movies about futuristic galactic travel female space travelers were not part of life’s equation.  At least not for the writers, director and producers of Forbidden Planet.

Then again, maybe they really were forward thinking and didn’t want to offend 2015 Republicans by suggesting women might actually be capable of doing more than feeding the kids, cleaning the house, cooking the meals, popping out little brats one right after the other, working a day job in between, and kissing hubby’s ass the rest of the time.  Your guess is as good as mine.



As UPC 57-D approaches Altair-4, Dr. Morbius magically gets his radio working, probably by spitting in it and smacking it on the side (see No Time For Sergeants for a lesson in how this works).  Commander J.j. is happy to tell Morbius that like Luke Skywalker was to Princess Leia (I’m here to rescue you), they are the saviors of Morbius.

But Dr. Morbius doesn’t want to be rescued.  After the crew of UPC 57-D has just spent a year in space getting there, he would prefer they make a U turn around the Red Sun and take a year going back from whence they came.  But, since the Doc isn’t offering up any free passes to Disneyland  to get our intrepid explorers to reverse their engines, they decide they’ll vacation for a while with Morbius on Altair-4. 

Morbius (via high powered CB radio):  Morbius, of the Belerephon.
Commander J.J.: Who?
Morbius: Edward Morbius (Doc goes over to the console, pulls a bubblegum trading card out and finds Morbius.) 
Doc: Here it is.  Morbius E.  Phd. Expedition Philologist.
Morbius: What do you wish here cruiser?
Commander J.J. (smiling and happy):  You don’t understand sir, we’re your relief.  We’re very glad to find you alive.
Morbius:  I of course appreciate your concern.  But I can assure you that no assistance of any kind is required.
Doc: The red carpet treatment huh?
Commander J.J. (no longer happy): Why Dr. Morbius, my orders are to survey the situation on Altair-4
Morbius: Let me repeat.  I’m in no sort of difficulty here.  Your best procedure will be to turn back at once without landing.
Commander J.J.: Sorry Sir.
Morbius:  Commander if you set down on this planet I warn you that I cannot be responsible for the safety of your ship or your crew.
Commander J.J.: If you’ll just supply me with landing co-ordinates. (No response)……….Dr. Morbius I require landing co-ordinates.
Morbius:  Very well, but I wash my hands of all responsibility.
 
Morbius is a regular stand up Pontius Pilate kind of guy.  Yeah, even this old atheist knows that biblical quote.  Then again, maybe Morbius IS the one and only genuine Pontius Pilate, reincarnation being what it is and everything. 




And after Pontius….I mean Morbius finally supplies the needed landing coordinates, Doc offers up these words of warning:  “There’s something funny going on down there, Skipper.”

No shit Doc.  Great observation.  Now go fasten your seatbelt.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Moments after having landed, a trail of dust is seen racing across the desolate landscape of Altair-4 (apparently modeled after Bakersfield, Ca.) coming straight toward our courageous and fearless crew.  And it’s not Jeff Gordon in the number 24 race car.


Having met what will amount to an over achieving butler in Robbie, Captain J.J. and the gang are transported via. futuristic robot express to the welcoming arms of Dr. Edward Morbius. 

He invites them to stay for lunch where he takes the time to demonstrate Robbie’s abilities which include but are not necessarily limited to cooking up a pot of beans, making synthetic concoctions out of almost real nothings, being totally obedient which means offering up some real comfort during those cold long lonely trips where no man has gone before.   Robbie also has an absolute inability to kill, murder or maim, which means he’s obviously a Democrat and not a member in good standing of the NRA.  Or has that morphed into the National Blaster Association?  (Buy your ray gun now.  No mess, no muss, no fuss.  Disintegrate whatever and whomever you want and leave no trace.  The best human killing device ever invented.  It’s a Red State dream device) 

Robbie is super strong though, so although he won’t kill you, he could build you a bachelor pad in no time flat.  So how did Robbie become the property of Morbius?  Thought you’d never ask.

Doc (to Morbius) Dr. how did you come by such a magnificent machine?
Morbius: Uh…I didn’t come by him doctor…uh…I tinkered him together during my first months up here.
Lt. Farman:  Doctor, do you mean you made this….(points towards Robbie)
Morbius:  A useful enough toy, Lieutenant, but nowadays I have no time for such endeavors. 
Commander J.J:  Dr. Morbius, you’re a philologist, an expert in words and languages, their origins and meanings.  But yet this robot of yours is beyond the combined resources of all earth physical science. 
Morbius: My dear Commander, maybe you overestimate both Robbie and myself.  Gentlemen, let me show you another bit of parlor magic.

With a wave of his hand, Morbius’s deluxe apartment is quickly shrouded with metallic security panels that the boys over at ADT Security Systems are most assuredly drooling over even now. As Morbius tells the Commander and his buddies, he had Robbie install the system before he realized how safe he really was. 

Or to put it in better perspective, he’s showing off to evade the Commander’s question about how a feeble earthling who is proficient in language interpretation can suddenly have the brain power to build these wonders. 

But as Morbius tells J.j, him and his crew can now depart the planet knowing that he and Robbie are perfectly safe.  Certainly Commander J.J. would be more than happy to be on his way if it weren’t for one little thing missing.  Like the rest of the Belerephon Party.

Let Morbius be your guide:

Morbius: Others?  But there are no others, Commander.  Before the first year was out they had all, every man and woman, had succumbed to a sort of planetary force here.  Some dark, terrible, incomprehensible force, only my wife and I were immune. 
Commander J.J.: And just how do you account for your immunity?
Morbius: My wife and I differed from the others only in our special love for this new world.  Our boundless longing to make a home here away from the strife and trauma of humankind.  I remember how when the vote was taken to return to earth, she and I were utterly heartbroken.  How could we have foreseen the extinction of so many of our friends.
Lt. Farman: Skipper, there’s no record of any wife in the Belerephon log.
Morbius: Oh Lt., look under biochemistry Julia Morrison.  She and I were married by the skipper on the voyage here.  I have the certificate.

Strife and trauma of Mankind?  I guess in a few hundred years earth still hasn’t wised up and Republicans are still in charge.  Either that or they finally got what they always wanted: A monarchy and a theocracy.  Worse yet, it means Fox News is probably still on the air.

Morbius explains that his wife died of natural causes a few months after the others and that the rest of the Belerephon members died horrible deaths, literally torn limb from limb by some deadly unseen entity and that the three final members of the crew died trying to escape when the Belerephon was vaporized as it  lifted off from the planet.

It also seems like Morbius forgot to mention something else.  Like the fact that he has a beautiful daughter and judging from the age of Alta, the natural causes that his wife died of had to do with childbirth.  Since she wasn’t invited for lunch, Alta decides to crash the after party.


And from this point on we will be witnessing an extremely heavy dose of 50s sexism and lust. 

Alta (to the smirking crew members):   I've always so carefully wanted to meet a young man and now three at once.
Doc:  That’s very kind of you.
Alta:  You’re lovely Doctor. (The crew members chuckle) Of course the two end ones are unbelievable. 
Lt. Farman: Could this end one get you some coffee?
Alta:  Oh, I'm quite able to get it. Thank you. (Alta and the Lt. walk over to where Robby is pouring the coffee)
Lt. Farman (to Robby): Thank you. 
Morbius (to Cmdr. J.J. and Doc):  Of course, you must make allowances for my daughter, gentlemen. She's never known any human except her father.
Doc:  I hope you'll make allowances too, sir. We young men have been shut up in hyperspace for well over a year now (eyeballing Alta)… And right from here the view looks just like heaven.
Lt. Farman:  Sugar?
Alta:  But you keep helping me. After all, you're not Robby.
Lt. Farman (chuckles):  I wouldn't mind being Robby in certain ways. That's only in certain ways of course
Alta:  I can see that was probably very clever, but I don't seem to understand it.
Lt. Farman:  Well, there's… There's no rush. (Lt. Farman moves in closer to Alta)
Morbius (to the Cmdr. and Doc):  I suppose that one day I shall be obliged to make the trip to earth with her for the sake of her natural development.
Doc (eyeballing Alta):  I should say fairly soon too.
Lt. Farman:  Your father wasn't too happy at first about your meeting us, was he?
Alta:  Well, naturally not. You're from Earth.
Lt. Farman:  Well, what's wrong with Earth?
Alta:  How lucky I am though. All three of you are such very fine exceptions. Well, you are exceptions aren't you?
Lt. Farman:  Oh, sure, sure. Well, that is, I am anyway. Old dependable Jerry. Of course the Doc can be trusted too, in the daytime.
Alta:  What about the commander?
Lt. Farman:  Well, I hate to tell you this, Alta but that man is notorious throughout seven planetary systems.
Alta:  Oh dear! What does he do?
Lt. Farman:  Well, I – – I don't feel free to discuss the shortcomings of a fellow officer but any girl or woman who lets him get her alone, anywhere… (Lt. Farman waives his finger negatively at Alta)
Alta:  Yes, I can see it now. (Looks towards Commander J.J.) There. Just then when he looked at me. Why, his eyes almost had fire in them. I'm so glad you don't have any fire in your eyes Lieutenant.
Lt. Farman:  Well, I'm not that hard up.


Despite her lack of human playmates up until now, Alta isn't exactly lonely.  Besides, Robbie, she has a menagerie of pets including a tiger to cuddle up and to dampen the affections of earth men.

Alta only seems to have eyes for Commander J.j.  He seems to be the only one drooling over her on the inside but keeping it real on the outside.  At one point he chews Altair out for being so alluring.    Yeah, because all spacemen want to hook up with the Wicked Witch of the East. 


Remember the Belepheron party?  You know, the reason we made this trip in the first place?

Whatever it was that used the ill-fated colony for its play pretty is back in action.  The invisible “it” thing starts out small by damaging the spaceship’s equipment.  This in turn gives J.j. a reason to pay an encore visit to Morbius, while stopping just long enough to be invited in for a nude swim with a nude Alta who really isn’t nude at all.  See pictures for details.


Eventually, the Commander and Doc hook back up with a very unhappy Morbius and after relating the damage to the ship, he tells them about the Krell,  the former inhabitants of Altair-IV.  We also learn exactly why the mind of Morbius is functioning on 10000 cylinders while the average human brain is stuck on somewhere between five and ten. That does not include Republican brains though.  They’ve yet to find the ignition switch.

Morbius then takes the two space cadets and us, on a grand tour of the Krell universe and all the wonders it holds thanks to some great artwork and special effects.  Does it compare to today’s CGI?  Of course not.  But for a movie made over 50 years ago, it kicks ass.

What we find out is that the Krell civilization came to a sudden dead end over 2000 centuries ago.  I’m not sure if that’s earth years, Altair-IV years, or the kind of Biblical years that allowed Noah to cheat the grim reaper for 950 years. 

How did such an advanced civilization meet it’s untimely end?  The only thing I can tell you is think “Belerephon.”  But you had better think fast because it’s not too long before dead bodies start to litter the landscape.

By the time you reach the end, you’ll have a pretty good idea as to what happened to the Belerephon Party, although you’ll still need the movie to tie up all the loose ends with a nice scientific bow so that it all makes sense.  As far as that goes, the one big thing Forbidden Planet does very well is not to treat its audience as if they are a bunch of imbeciles. 

Simply put, if Forbidden Planet had gone the way of most 50’s science fiction creature features it would have gone thusly.   Futuristic spaceship lands on faraway planet, earthlings discover big bad monster on planet, earthlings fight monster who appears to be invincible until the final moments when they magically discover it’s one fatal flaw, kill it and rejoice, back to earth we go.

Yes, the big monster is here, but this invisible big boy is in a sense, really invincible.  Sure, making the creature transparent saved MGM a wad of cash in special effects shots, but when you finally do get to see him, it is done so ingeniously that it makes the moment that much more frightening and yet satisfying. 

That’s not to say the movie isn’t flawed.  But they are flaws more attributed to the mindset of the 50’s then anything else.  You’ll just have to over look them.  Or maybe not.

No offense to Earl Holliman who was terrific in The Sons of Katie Elder and a pretty good sidekick for Angie Dickinson in Police Woman among other things, but here, his whole comedy routine as “Cook” is out of place and annoying.  It may have been funny when I was eight, but not since.  Especially when you stop to realize that if they still need a potato peeler that far in the future, then they haven’t really advanced much at all.  The movie could have shit canned the whole bit and been better off for it.

Yes, I know it was the 50’s and the prevailing attitude by many men may have been that women were basically put on earth to be sex objects and baby factories.  To most Republican politicians, that’s still their main function even to this day.  But it doesn’t really excuse it. 

The leering and drooling, and having Alta be nothing more than a clueless dolt of a sex object doesn’t play well.  And it really wasn’t necessary even back then when you remember that in other science fiction films of the era, women were played as smart professionals whether it was  Paula Raymond as Lee Hunter in The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Peggy Castle as Audrey Aimes in Beginning of the End, Joan Weldon as Dr. Patricia 'Pat' Medford in Them!, or even Dana Wynter in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Yes, I realize that she was brought up on a planet with a father who was preoccupied with studying the Krell civilization, but as she tells J.j. at one point, “He (Morbius) says I’m terribly ignorant but I have had poetry, mathematics, logic, physics, geology, biology.” 

The relationship and developing romance between the Commander and Altaira is integral to what happens later in the film, but along with the comedy routines of Cook, it’s just not written very well regardless of the decade or planet for that matter.


But that is absolutely no knock on Anne Francis.  She is stunningly beautiful, and plays the part of Altaira to the hilt.  She’s far more interesting than anybody on board Cruiser 57D.  So much so that 50 years later, we wish the part had been better written.

But Francis has always been a favorite actress of mine in films and television, and has a resume a mile long, so maybe I’m a bit prejudiced in her favor.  She may be Altaira here, but she’ll always be Honey West to me.

Nielsen does a good job and is perfectly believable playing Captain, but as a romantic interest he’s not so hot.  His  scenes with Alta often makes him seem a bit goofy, like an adolescent schoolboy, at times more closely resembling his Frank Drebin character from Police Squad.  But they are partially redeemed by the wide eyed Francis.  Part of the problem is that the whole love bit is on super speed up, given the time frame in which it must occur.  It is what it is though, and that’s that.

Walter Pidgeon is damn near perfect as the self-centered, ego driven, Morbius, who can’t see the forest for the trees.  His preoccupation with the Krell makes him totally oblivious as to what caused their annihilation.  In fact, I think he’s much better here then he was some five years later as Admiral Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the sea.

But there are other problems.

Frankly, the whole nude swim sequence by Alta has always annoyed me.  Not because I expect Francis to be actually nude.  Don’t be ridiculous.  This was 1956 after all.  But I do not expect any director or cinematographer to be oblivious to the fact that as she climbs out of the water, her “nude dress” is on full display.  It always takes me out of the element.  It would take anybody out of the element and there really is no excuse for something so blatantly obvious.  It was just a totally sloppy moment on the part of everybody.

There are other minor quibbles like this, many of them made more obvious with the release of the film on Blu-ray.  But as a whole, I can live with them.

Fred Wilcox, who directed both Elizabeth Taylor and Lassie in Lassie Come Home and The Courage of Lassie, does decent work here, if not particularly exceptional or memorable.

The cinematography and Art Direction is as well, although it’s pretty obvious that much of Altari-IV is nothing more than matte paintings.  But they are well done and it won’t annoy you and after a few minutes, you won’t care. 

For 1956, most of the special effects are way better than average, particular when we explore the underground world of the Krell.  So super kudos to those guys.

And then there’s Robbie, who may have been the best special effect of all. 

Instead of a regular score that we’re used to, you get musical Tonalities.  What is that?   Can’t really explain it but I think it was a brave decision to go that route because I don’t think you’re going to sell many soundtrack albums with them.  And they add a lot to the mysteries of Alatair IV and the Krell and give the film a certain kind of aura. 

Despite all the minor annoyances though, I still highly recommend Forbidden Planet.  The basic plot is far more thought provoking and in a manner of speaking, more controversial than what you usually were given (with some exceptions) in 50’s science fiction films.  So much so that you have to think the quoted biblical passages that J.j. and Doc spew were inserted to balance out what some people would see as blasphemy because gee, suggesting that we just might not need some magic man in the sky to create things could possibly get you tarred, feathered, put in the stockade and burned at the stake, or banned from the public library by some people.  But the movie goes out of it’s way to pooh pooh the idea that any possibility of having the abilities of the Krell would have dire consequences for us all.  The debate forum is now open.

So that leaves me with a grade.  A remake of Forbidden Planet has been in developmental hell forever.  I have to think that if it ever gets off the ground it could turn into a pretty good project because of the flaws of the original.  Then again, Hollywood has been known to muck things up pretty badly so maybe we’re better off with the annoyances of 1956.  And besides, there’s no replacement I can think of for Anne Francis.

In other words, since there is some room for improvement, and because Forbidden Planet is not perfect, I have no other choice but to bestow a grade of B+ and a film well worth your time.  There are a few related Amazon links scattered throughout the review, so if you turn off your ad block, you’ll be able to see them and it would be appreciated.  Anything you buy at Amazon using the links (whether it’s that product or not) helps me out on these reviews and makes me feel like its worthwhile to somebody.

And if for some reason the captions are hard to read, just use Ctrl + to magnify your screen, Ctrl – to return to the planet earth.