Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. United Kingdom, 1980. ITC Films. Story by John Barry, Screenplay by Martin Amis. Cinematography by Billy Williams. Produced by Stanley Donen. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Production Design by Stuart Craig. Costume Design by Anthony Mendleson. Film Editing by Richard Marden.
Earth is overcrowded and harvesting food has been outsourced to other celestial bodies manned by small crews, including a moon of Saturn where Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett live completely alone while growing hydroponic plants (how that food stays fresh on its way to Earth is anyone’s guess). Harvey Keitel (with a speaking voice dubbed by Roy Dotrice) shows up pretending to be a technological expert who has come to help them, but is actually a deranged murderer who has escaped Earth to avoid the punishment of his failed psychological examinations. He builds an eight-foot robot that looks like metal scaffolding and which takes on Keitel’s personality, a bad thing considering that he has the hots for Fawcett and now the machine does too. Laughable action and dialogue are a grave disappointment given that this is the magnificent Stanley Donen behind the camera (with uncredited work by John Barry) and a screenplay by the famed Martin Amis (working from Barry’s story). The production design is remarkably beautiful, as is the cinematography, the constant presence of neon blue piping that outlines almost every shot stunning to gaze at, but the weak relationships and ridiculously unimpressive plotting really make it a chore to sit through. Douglas is far too old for his nubile female co-star, and as in The Arrangement ten years earlier is once again too anxious to show off his naked physique on film to prove he’s still the most virile movie star that ever was, the both of them giving terrible performances thanks to obvious post-synch sound that makes them sound almost as dubbed as Keitel does.