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Old April 21 2012, 11:44 PM   #121
Christopher
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

I just watched Riders to the Stars, which I recorded on Thursday, and it was an unexpected little gem. By 1954 standards, it's a pretty solid "hard" SF movie, a very well-researched speculative portrayal of the first attempt to send humans into space, with some cool stuff about the training process for the astronauts; the centrifuge sequence in particular was rather exciting. Some of the assumptions about space are silly in retrospect, but reasonable for '50s science fiction. And the script (by Curt Siodmak, the novelist/screenwriter who wrote The Wolf Man and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers) is well-written with some good characterization and dialogue.

The main drawback of the film is its tiny budget and ridiculously cheap, crude visual effects -- and a theme song that's about as silly as Gene Roddenberry's little-known torch-song lyrics to the Star Trek theme. Also, the print that TCM showed was in pretty poor condition with a lot of breaks in the film. It would be a shame if there were no better, more complete copies surviving of this very impressive film.
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Old April 22 2012, 09:44 AM   #122
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

^^ I love the Star Trek lyrics. I always thought it would be cool if a TNG movie had had a scene in a 24th century nightclub that featured a cameo of Nichelle Nichols singing that song.

I recorded Cyclops and Illustrated Man this week and I hope to be able to watch Illustrated Man at least today. I didn't record Riders To The Stars because it's being repeated, but I'm looking forward to that one, too.
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Old April 22 2012, 05:10 PM   #123
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Illustrated Man was very odd, I couldn't get to into that one. My favorite part was that crazy future apartment. It seemed almost like what you'd think someone who wasn't into science fiction would come up with if forced to do so.

Weirdly, the framing sequence was more interesting than the stories.
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Old April 22 2012, 06:16 PM   #124
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Watched part of Westworld last night. Funny to watch a "futuristic" sf movie in which the very concept of a computer virus is greeted with incredulity.

"It's almost as though these malfunctions are spreading like a disease!"

"A disease for machines? How is that possible?"


Oh, sweet naive 1970's! If only you knew . . . .
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Old April 22 2012, 06:21 PM   #125
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
Illustrated Man was very odd, I couldn't get to into that one. My favorite part was that crazy future apartment. It seemed almost like what you'd think someone who wasn't into science fiction would come up with if forced to do so.
It seemed to have the same underlying philosophy as Krypton's design in Superman: The Movie: a futuristic world as a completely white, sterile, cold environment with no traces of color or comfort, symbolizing a future where technology had wiped out anything natural or imperfect, any trace of individuality or passion. I think George Lucas's THX-1138 had a similar design philosophy.


Weirdly, the framing sequence was more interesting than the stories.
Only in the sense that the stories' execution was even duller than the frame sequence. I wouldn't say I enjoyed any of it. (Although Claire Bloom was rather striking back then.)
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Old April 22 2012, 10:09 PM   #126
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

I actually did not get a chance to watch the whole thing yet-- I'm about a half hour into it-- but that sterile vision of the future is not uncommon in 60s media. The idea that everything will be mechanized, you'll get all your nutrition from a pill, that there will be no feeling left because everything will be controlled by computers, et cetera. It's what I call the dark side of the hippie movement-- the idea that science is cold and clinical and we must abandon it and go back to nature (rather than understanding that science is nature and an essential part of humanity). It's unfortunate, but that was an aspect of society back then. You can see elements of that line of thinking even in 2001 and Star Trek.
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Old April 22 2012, 11:08 PM   #127
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Oh yeah, you can see that in Sleeper, too.

And I suppose Logan's Run is the hedonistic, seventies version. The art direction is more colorful and less sterile, but everything is still soulless and scientific. People are numbered, sex is casual and meaningless, there are no families, no nature, etc.

And, of course, a computer is running everything.
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Old April 22 2012, 11:32 PM   #128
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

^^ Zardoz is another example. TMP has a lot of that as well. I've often wondered what direction science fiction movies would've taken had Star Wars not been made.


Christopher wrote: View Post
Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
Illustrated Man was very odd, I couldn't get to into that one. My favorite part was that crazy future apartment. It seemed almost like what you'd think someone who wasn't into science fiction would come up with if forced to do so.
It seemed to have the same underlying philosophy as Krypton's design in Superman: The Movie: a futuristic world as a completely white, sterile, cold environment with no traces of color or comfort, symbolizing a future where technology had wiped out anything natural or imperfect, any trace of individuality or passion. I think George Lucas's THX-1138 had a similar design philosophy.
I get that, I was just thinking about some of the trappings like the weird furniture and stuff. I just thought some of it seemed goofy like "Box" in Logan's Run. It seemed thrown together in a perfunctory manner.
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Old April 22 2012, 11:49 PM   #129
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
^^ Zardoz is another example. TMP has a lot of that as well. I've often wondered what direction science fiction movies would've taken had Star Wars not been made.
Heck, even TOS has a heavy dose of computer-phobia. Besides all the obvious eps about societies regimented by controlling computers, you've Samuel Cogley going on about man versus machine in "Court-Martial," Lenore Karidian ranting about Kirk being more machine than man, "The Way to Eden," etc. Not to mention all of McCoy's grousing about cold, unemotional Vulcans and such.

TOS, for all its adventurous spirit, seemed to have profoundly mixed feelings about computers and "perfect" societies . . . . it's not all that removed from the dystopian fears of the era.
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Old April 22 2012, 11:54 PM   #130
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
^^ Zardoz is another example. TMP has a lot of that as well. I've often wondered what direction science fiction movies would've taken had Star Wars not been made.
I think Alien and Blade Runner are big contributors to the used aesthetic as well, perhaps even more so than Star Wars, which spent a lot of time on the Death Star, a rather sleek and sterile environment.

Of course, if Star Wars hadn't been made, 20th Century Fox wouldn't have fast tracked Alien, and if Alien hadn't been made, Ridley Scott probably wouldn't have been hired to do Blade Runner. I guess it all does go back to George Lucas.
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Old April 23 2012, 12:11 AM   #131
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Harvey wrote: View Post
Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
^^ Zardoz is another example. TMP has a lot of that as well. I've often wondered what direction science fiction movies would've taken had Star Wars not been made.
I think Alien and Blade Runner are big contributors to the used aesthetic as well, perhaps even more so than Star Wars, which spent a lot of time on the Death Star, a rather sleek and sterile environment.

Of course, if Star Wars hadn't been made, 20th Century Fox wouldn't have fast tracked Alien, and if Alien hadn't been made, Ridley Scott probably wouldn't have been hired to do Blade Runner. I guess it all does go back to George Lucas.
I remember reading an essay by Samuel Delany many years ago in which he praised Star Wars for proving that big-budget science fiction movies didn't have to be sober cautionary tales about dystopias and doomsday. If nothing else, Star Wars reversed the trend set by Planet of the Apes, Logan's Run, Soylent Green, Rollerball, Omega Man, Silent Running, Colossus: The Forbin Project, etc. It made science fiction movies fun and appealing again.
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Old April 23 2012, 12:14 AM   #132
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Heck, Star Wars is the very embodiment of the "science and technology = evil, back-to-nature traditionalism = good" mentality. All the Imperial stuff is bright and clean and gleaming and high-tech, and it's the noble Rebels who are using run-down ships and equipment and spiritual forces and antique weapons and bows and arrows and log traps and such.
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Old April 23 2012, 12:21 AM   #133
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Heck, Star Wars is the very embodiment of the "science and technology = evil, back-to-nature traditionalism = good" mentality. All the Imperial stuff is bright and clean and gleaming and high-tech, and it's the noble Rebels who are using run-down ships and equipment and spiritual forces and antique weapons and bows and arrows and log traps and such.
Good point. There's also the crucial moment where Luke switches off the targeting computer and trusts the Force instead . . . .

On the other hand, the tone of Star Wars owes much more to Edgar Rice Burroughs and Flash Gordon than cautionary tales like THX-1138 or Soylent Green.
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Old April 23 2012, 12:44 AM   #134
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

^Well, yeah; the main difference is that it shows the old-school naturalism thriving alongside and butting up against the sterile technocracy, rather than just showing the technocracy dominating everything. True, movies like THX-1138 and Logan's Run have the technocracy being escaped or defeated in favor of nature, but it's a nature that's abandoned and depopulated, having been conquered or rejected long ago, and we don't get to see its reclamation. So the sense of oppressive sterility is more dominant there.
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Old April 23 2012, 05:04 AM   #135
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Logan's Run would have been a lot better if they'd kept the whole-world context of the book and ditched the idiotic "We forgot what the Sun is" idea of them locked in the one city...

...and been brave enough to keep the death age as 21, not 30. Couldn't have used York then, of course.
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