Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly
Directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox
(actor & director credits courtesy

In the distant future, a spaceship commander travels to an alien planet to check up on a human colony, and finds them all dead save for the enigmatic Dr. Morbius and his beautiful daughter. 

One of the best science fiction films of all time, in my opinion, with Oscar-nominated and dazzling special effects that are still impressive, the picture, per Wikipedia was based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, and it's not difficult to see how it influenced a good deal of science fiction to come, most notably Star Trek and Star Wars.   The opening credits indicate Disney animator Joshua Meador was borrowed by MGM for the production, and it's clearly his work during a show-stopping battle between the spaceship's crew and the film's until-then invisible monster, but the rest of the effects, from painted mattes to the monster's formidable footprints, to the memorable design of Robby The Robot, are just as expert.  Passing on an orchestral music score, the filmmakers utilize "electronic tonalities" by Louis & Bebe Barron to create an eerie mood to accompany to the alien landscape, and although it's not my cup of tea, it certainly is as striking as the rest of the film.  Although the film is not often cited for its acting, Pidgeon, Nielsen, and Francis are perfect in roles which may well have become science fiction archetypes.

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