Starship C57D travels to planet Altair 4 in search of the crew of spaceship “Bellerophon,” a scientific expedition that has been missing for 20 years, only to find themselves unwelcome by the expedition’s lone survivor and warned of destruction by an invisible force if they don’t turn back immediately.
- Dr. Edward Morbius: Walter Pidgeon
- Altaira Morbius: Anne Francis
- Commander John J. Adams: Leslie Nielsen
- Lt. ‘Doc’ Ostrow: Warren Stevens
- Lt. Jerry Farman: Jack Kelly
- Voice of Robby the Robot: Marvin Miller
- Cookie: Earl Holliman
- Chief Engineer Quinn: Richard Anderson
- Bosun: George Wallace
- Crewman Grey: Robert Dix
- Crewman Youngerford: Jimmy Thompson
- Crewman Strong: James Drury
- Crewman Randall: Harry Harvey Jr.
- Crewman Lindstrom: Roger McGee
- Crewman Moran: Peter Miller
- Crewman Nichols: Morgan Jones
- Crewman Silvers: Richard Grant
- Crewman (uncredited): James Best
- Crewman (uncredited): William Boyett
- Narrator (uncredited) (voice): Les Tremayne
- Robby the Robot (interior) (uncredited): Frankie Darro
- Robby the Robot: Robby the Robot
- Editor: Ferris Webster
- Costume Design: Helen Rose
- Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
- Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis
- Art Direction: Arthur Lonergan
- Set Decoration: Hugh Hunt
- Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
- Director: Fred M. Wilcox
- Screenplay: Cyril Hume
- Producer: Nicholas Nayfack
- Original Music Composer: Bebe Barron
- Original Music Composer: Louis Barron
- Director of Photography: George J. Folsey
- Sound Editor: Kendrick Kinney
- Sound Editor: John Lipow
- John Chard: Your mind refuses to face the conclusion.
Forbidden Planet is directed by Fred M. Wilcox and stars Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. Screenplay is written by Cyril Hume from an original story by Irving Block & Allen Adler (original title being Fatal Planet). It is a CinemaScope production out of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and is shot in Eastman Color (not Metrocolor as suggested on some sources) by cinematographer George J. Folsey. The piece features a novel musical score (credited as “electronic tonalities”) by Louis & Bebe Barron.
Loosely based around William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”, the story sees Nielsen and the crew of the C-57D spaceship sent to the remote planet of Altair IV. Where once was a colony of Earthlings, now the only inhabitants are Dr Morbius (Pidgeon), his daughter Altaira (Francis) and Robby, a highly sophisticated Robot that Morbius has built. It transpires from Morbius that all civilisations on Altair IV were wiped out by an unseen force, but not before he himself was able to use some of the knowledge gained from the Krell race to build Robby and the Plastic Educator. However, it’s not before long something starts stalking and killing the men of the C-57D. They must get to the bottom of the mystery or they too will be wiped out.
The 50s was of course the decade of the “B” movie. A decade where science fiction schlockers and creaky creature features ruled the drive in theatres. As paranoia of potential nuclear war and technology spiralling out of control gripped America, film studios grasped the opportunity to make a cash killing whilst providing an entertainment stress release courtesy of science fiction based movies. Be it giant insects, creatures or alien invaders, there were some fun – some bad – and some rather smart movies that hit the silver screen. Falling into the latter category is “Forbidden Planet”, an intelligent and excellently produced movie that is one of the few that genuinely holds up well over 60 years since it was first released. To delve further would be unfair to potential newcomers to the film, but in short the piece carries interesting motifs such as sexual awakening, the power of the sub-conscious, or more appropriately the perils of a repressed conscious. Basically it’s a Freudian twister, and then some.
Also lifting Forbidden Planet a long way above those men in rubber suit movies of the decade is the production value of the piece. True, the budget was considerably larger than what was normally afforded the genre (almost $5 million), but every penny is up there on the screen. The CinemaScope really brings to the front the sets and visual effects, while the Eastman Color fully enhances the animations and matte paintings on offer. The whole look and feel of the movie points to it being later than 1956, so it’s no surprise to see musing on the home format extras such luminaries like Spielberg, Lucas, Cameron & Scott, since Forbidden Planet has influenced as much as it has enthralled.
With one of the cleverest stories in the genre, one of its best ever robots (Robby would become a star all on his own) and certainly the best spaceship landing ever, “Forbidden Planet” is a genre high point and essential viewing for those interested in said genre pieces. 9/10
- Wuchak: **_The 50’s prototype Sci-Fi film and… Anne Francis_**
I didn’t see “Forbidden Planet” (1956) until a full four decades after it’s debut. I’ve seen it a few more times since then and here’s what strikes me:
For one, although Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is undeniably great, practically every primary aspect of Trek is present in “Forbidden Planet,” which was released almost a decade before the first Star Trek pilot episode was produced (!). You name it: warp drive, Captain/First Officer/Doctor triumvirate, alluring space females, beam down/up (in a visual sense, at least), etc., it’s all here in “Forbidden Planet.”
The flick combines Shakespeare’s The Tempest with psychological concepts. The invisible id monster is horrifying when finally viewed. It looks like a serious rendition of the Tasmanian Devil. The concept of the monster is a fascinating revelation and I wasn’t expecting such mature commentary in a 50’s sci-fi flick.
Furthermore, Dr. Morbius’ elaboration on the former inhabitants of his planet, the Krell, is awe-inspiring to this day and the archaic special effects hold up well. This was the first major film to be set wholly in space and one of the first to feature an entirely electronic score (perhaps better described as a soundtrack).
One thing that really blows me away every time I catch this flick is, of course, Anne Francis, who plays Altaira (or Alta for short), in her cute space outfits.
I’ve heard some people complain about the scene where we are led to believe that Alta (Francis) is skinny-dipping, only to plainly observe that she’s wearing a loose skin-colored bathing suit. Is this a cop-out on the filmmakers’ part because it was 1956? Not at all because the bathing suit is clearly visible once she steps out of the water. Despite her sheltered innocent nature, let’s give Alta some credit — she was obviously playing a little coquettish joke on the Captain, to shock him and stir his mounting desire (which obviously worked).
Please remember that “Forbidden Planet” is from 1956 and so understandably has dated aspects, like the sound effects, small portions of goofy dialogue, the Captain’s communicator, etc. Regardless, it must be HAILED as the honored blueprint for numerous sci-fi films and TV series to come.
The film runs 1 hour, 38 minutes, and was shot entirely in the studio in Culver City, SoCal.