Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Klaus, Sep 27, 2011.
I don't know, the 70s are rife with anti-authority movies.
I think the "trust the authorities" thing was on its last legs by the sixties at least. Look at QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (aka FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH). In that case, the military authorities are actively obstructionist, refuse to listen to Quatermass and his fellow scientists, and actually end up making things worse. It's up to Quatermass and a colleague to keep us all from being turned into Martian drones!
Of course, that's an English movie. I can't immediately think of an American example from that era.
But it was such a fun dumb movie. They get right on with the action, and it looked like the ring station set was curved--that looks to have beaten Kubrick to the punch. The ladder looked to go "up" one of the spokes, so that part of the film actually made sense. And I loved the saucers. I seem to remember some stills from one of the STARLOG SPACESHIPS photo-guidebooks. One craft in a photo looked to be just the front end of a B-52, but those all looked like X-15s in the movie.
I actually find that rather refreshing, here in the hate-government days with "soverign citizens" running around.
Now, wasn't there a written critique of E.T. that "the tribe" was supposed to handle things, no it being left to the kids?
The bit about the authorities taking over at the end goes way back-- I'm thinking about the biplanes in King Kong.
The mind-controlled guy had amazingly bad luck.
There was more gravity levity when they got to the moon. "I told you the gravity was weaker here."
I wonder, going back to the microgravity on the ship, if they intended for the crew to be wearing magnetic shoes and that one guy just stood up too quickly. Of course, it would have worked better if they had said something, walked as if their feet were sticky, slowed the film a bit or something to indicate that. Maybe there was something in dialogue that was lost in translation. Of course, there's no explaining the one guy who threw the other guy over his shoulder.
Some of the special effects were pretty cool. I loved the hand-drawn ray beams and the moonscapes. There was a scene of some debris from the space station drifting by with a body in the middle of it that was really effective. And the alien ships with the inner glow were exotic and eerie. Modern special effects may be expensive and photorealistic, but they lack the artistry of hand-made stuff. Much of this movie looked like illustrations from Astounding or Amazing.
But, man, what awful writing. Talk about movies with a vast death toll that nobody thinks twice about. Many millions must have died around the world. Well, time for a vacation.
But at least Driscoll is busy rescuing Ann at the end; he's not just standing around let the army handle things.
Yeah, that's kind of the common pattern in a lot of these movies -- the hero saves the girl while the military takes out the monster.
Then there's Mothra vs. Godzilla, which resolved the human-level conflict before the climactic kaiju battle, and thus tacked on a final-act rescue of a bunch of schoolkids to give the human heroes something to do. But then, in a lot of kaiju movies, the lead human characters end up just being spectators at the climax.
So, no discussion about "Metropolis"?
I finally got to see "Metropolis" last Friday after readings about it for close to 40 years. TCM aired the latest "reconstruction" which restored many missing shots from a 16 mm print discovered in South America just a couple of years ago. As it now stands, there is only one scene still "missing", a physical confrontation between Frederson, the leader of Metropolis and Rotwang (which I discovered today should be pronounced something akin to "Rot-Vahng"), the creator of "Futura", the "machine man" (with a pectoral region and hips like that?!) eventually disguised to replace Maria, the heroine of the piece. I also discovered that Brigitte Helm not only played Maria and her doppelganger, but she supposedly insisted upon wearing the robot costume for the scene in which ir rises from a chair and walk several steps.
I've seen clips over the years, but never the whole film, in whatever form was available at a given time. One can actually see the newest cut on YouTube, but it's the version with German text and I didn't see a button to display English subtitles. The latest inserts from that 16 millimeter print are very substandard, blurred and scratched compared to the rest of the footage, but they are relatively few. Most were just single shots in a given scene. The rest of the film is in fantastic condition, good enough to take advantage of a reasonably large HD monitor. I also noticed Fritz Lang employed some shooting techniques tat many filmmakers would not attempt for decades, such as a few handheld shots. Those appeared during a scene when Rotwang pursues Maria through some catacombs, giving us a POV of the scientist. A single spotlight, Rotwang's flashlight, erratically flashed across Maria; the rest of the area was totally black. Forgive me, but the first thing that came to mind was "The Blair Witch Project" with its personal camcorder approach.
Anyway, it made for an interesting evening of cinema.
Of course, there you had full employment with the robot being a humanoid.
Here, robots are just arms moving products with people sitting at a table, each engrossed in his or her own smart phone--no one speaking to each other.
In the opening, the rich were more social at least, and everyone had a job.
In some respects, today's world is worse than what we saw in the film. And they had cooler buildings too.
That is what sci-fi should be.
^^ I don't know that job moving the hands of the "clock" looked pretty exhausting.
TCM aired this version a few months ago and I saw it then. It's a fantastic movie. In many ways, it still seems futuristic today; the designs are amazing.
I agree. We definitely need more artistry and vision in contemporary movies and TV.
I watched The Night the World Exploded today. I was expecting a rather cheesy movie, given the hyperbolic title (spoiler: it didn't actually explode), but it actually wasn't half bad. It was pretty short and kind of rushed, relying heavily on stock footage, narration, and spinning newspapers to convey the global crisis, but the pseudoscience behind it was actually relatively well-thought-out and plausible, at least by the standards of '50s B-movie pseudoscience, and there was an endearingly clunky attempt at a message about humanity uniting to save itself. Plus it had the gorgeous Kathryn Grant, the princess from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, as its leading lady, and by the standards of '50s sci-fi B-movie leading ladies, her character was reasonably strong and competent albeit subject to some of the usual cliches. There was some decent dialogue writing too, and some of the stock music was by Star Trek's George Duning, particularly the romantic stuff that he did so well. Some of the supporting actors didn't exactly give it their A game, though, like the local sheriff who gave a rather blase phone report about a giant volcano forming and erupting right outside his window.
I noticed that one of the spinning newspapers was The Daily Sentinel. Good to see that Britt Reid was on the case.
I saw Night The World Exploded a while ago and remember being impressed with the woman scientist (and not just because her name was "Hutch"). For the 50s, she was pretty liberated and, as I recall, the men on the team treated her as indispensable-- and not because she made good coffee, but because she was a good scientist.
Yeah, but it was still taken for granted that she'd have to give up her career when she got married, and implied that the main reason she stayed in her science work was because she was in love with the main scientist. And they still put her in the traditional damsel-in-distress role more than once. And she did spend a lot of time making coffee.
Really, there are a lot of "liberated lady scientist" characters like her in '50s sci-fi movies, because it was deemed obligatory to get a romantic interest into the story somehow, even if it was a story about a scientific expedition or a pioneering spaceflight. There are similar characters in movies like It Came from Beneath the Sea, Tarantula, and others.
Wow, you said it. I just got the DVD, which includes the fully-nude version of the swimming scene (though with a body double). That was rather astonishing -- I knew censorship was lax before the Hays Code, but I never expected the scene to show her that clearly for that long (though mostly from the rear/side, and reportedly the double was in a bodysuit). And there's a lot of sexuality in the rest of the film overall -- Jane naked under the furs when Tarzan wakes her up in the morning, Jane trying on stockings, Jane's silhouette as she changes in the tent, Martin's seduction attempts and suggestive dialogue, etc. Plus there's a scene early on where there's a topless African woman strolling by in the background, facing the camera, while Harry and Martin are chatting. I'm not surprised to learn that this film provoked a backlash against suggestive content in movies.
Overall, I think it's a better movie than the first -- still pretty racist, but Harry kind of redeems himself a bit by sacrificing himself to try to save the lead bearer. And it was refreshing to see Tarzan take a moral stand about the wrongness of desecrating the elephants' graveyard. In addition to the ethical questions, it made him stronger as a character to actually assert a belief and fight for it, rather than just acting on impulse and instinct. And Maureen O'Sullivan showed (well, she showed plenty, but aside from that) a broader range as an actress, as the story led Jane through more of an emotional gamut, and she even got to be pretty resourceful in action in the climax.
Then there was the German film Different from the Others, which is far ahead of its time.
Well, I did say "for the 50s." However-- and it's been a while since I actually saw it-- I seem to remember that her motivation to be a scientist was the science itself; and that she didn't intend to give up her career, but that she had given up on the clueless hunk and had found another guy.
Funny thing. I read somewhere that the Weissmuller movies inspired some libraries to pull Burrough's books because Tarzan and Jane were living in sin--even though they were legally married in the books!
To a degree, perhaps; but the implication that she was really there out of love was certainly there nonetheless, since it was pretty much obligatory.
No, the two went hand in hand -- getting married meant giving up her career and becoming a full-time housewife. That was a given at the time. When they called her back in to return to work as the crisis grew, it entailed postponing her wedding plans.
Against my better judgment, I watched Valley of the Dragons. Despite being nominally based on a Jules Verne novel, it's just a run-of-the-mill giant-lizards-and-cavebabes movie, largely made of stock footage from One Million BC and similar movies -- even with a few clips from Rodan stuck in! Just about all the action involves cutting away from the actors to stock footage or showing the actors in front of a rear-projection screen showing stock footage. Really, really cheap filmmaking, which culminates in an overlong volcanic-eruption sequence that degenerates to the point of just being lengthy shots of fake lava flowing past the camera while an audio loop of rumbles, roars, and screams suggests something more exciting going on where the camera isn't pointing. Well, intercut with disturbing shots of lizards on burning miniature sets -- I doubt the animal action was monitored by anybody -- and a few random shots of Rodan flying around.
Still, it does have a couple of cute cavebabes, and there's a romantic swimming sequence which has some surprisingly racy shots, since the lead actress's swimming double (whose hair is visibly shorter) is wearing a fairly loose top and there are some rather revealing angles that I'm surprised they could get away with in a 1961 movie.
It has a weird opening, too. Not only do the opening credits twice say that it's based on Career of a Comet by Jules Verne, but the film opens with a narrator talking about Jules Verne and all the great stories he wrote, including Career of a Comet, which began in such-and-such, etc. It's weird to see a movie opening by saying "This is a story someone told, and it starts like this." Maybe they were overcompensating, given that it's not really a Jules Verne film at all. It borrows the Verne novel's setup of people being swept away on a comet, but only as a flimsy excuse to set up a prehistoric movie. And it gives one of its main characters the name of the novel's lead, but that's about it. Virtually nothing past the first reel has anything to do with Verne. So really it's false advertising.
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