Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1956. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Story by Irving Block, Allen Adler, Screenplay by Cyril Hume, based on the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by George J. Folsey. Produced by Nicholas Nayfack. Production Design by Irving Block, Mentor Huebner. Costume Design by Walter Plunkett, Helen Rose. Film Editing by Ferris Webster. Academy Awards 1956.
Here’s the Gone With The Wind of 1950s science-fiction. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this fantastic, adventurous space opera starts off with a captain (Leslie Nielsen) landing his craft on a planet that was once a colonization test site. Since it has sent no messages for quite some time, the captain’s mission is to assess the status of the colony and find out what happened. All he finds on the entire desolate planet is a scientist (Walter Pidgeon) and his beautiful daughter (Anne Francis), who was raised on the planet after her mother died. According to the scientist, all the other colonists died in a mysterious accident that even he can’t explain. In his quest to get to the bottom of the mystery, Nielsen uncovers some uncanny facts about the spiritually-enhanced planet they are visiting. Brilliant production design that encompasses all your favourite standards about the genre, from the ultra-modern furniture decor to the carhop dresses, is a treat, and the visual effects are fantastic even now. Probably every viewer’s favourite, however, will be Robby The Robot, a mechanism of artificial intelligence that can do just about anything under the sun and looks like the genetic cross of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and an old typewriter.