Poster art for 'Gog'

Disclaimer: Films listed here may be terrible, but they must have at least one scientifically interesting idea, however badly they may exploit that concept.


~The Twonky (1953)
Hans Conreid, Janet Warren, Billy Lynn, Edwin Max, Gloria Blondell, Evelyn Beresford, Norman Field
BW-84 mins.

"I’m not afraid of you, you king-sized cigarette lighter!"

Another offbeat film whose ambitions are thwarted by a low budget and even worse direction. You could regard it as an eccentric parable of how mass communications technology, especially in the form of television, has come to dominate our lives—or you could write it off as a failure. It was based on a 1942 story by "Lewis Padgett" (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) that dealt with radios and not TVs. You would do better to read the story, which includes this prescription for a robot mind:

"Your brain’s a colloid, you know. Compact, complicated—but slow. Suppose you work out a gadget with a multimillion radioatom unit embedded in an insulating material—the result is a brain … A brain with a tremendous number of units interacting at light-velocity speeds. A radio tube adjusts current flow when it’s operating at forty million separate signals a second. And—theoretically—a radioatomic brain of the type I’ve mentioned could include perception, recognition, consideration, reaction and adjustment in a hundred-thousandth of a second."

~The Magnetic Monster (1953)
Richard Carlson, King Donovan, Jean Byron, Byron Foulger, Michael Fox, John Zaremba, Harry Ellerbe, Leo Britt, Leonard Mudie
BW-76 mins.

"It’s hungry! It has to be fed constantly—or it will reach out its magnetic arm and grab at anything within its reach and kill it. It’s monstrous, Stewart, monstrous. It grows bigger and bigger!"

I haven’t seen this one and include it for the sake of completeness, but descriptions of it suggest an unusual threat to Planet Earth: "serranium." (How scientific this threat may be is another matter.) If anyone has seen this film, let us know what you thought of it. A detailed synopsis (with SPOILERS) is here. This was the first of a trilogy of films featuring the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI): The Magnetic Monster, Riders to the Stars, and Gog (see below). In these films, the threat was always of earthly origin, not from outer space or the supernatural.

~Riders to the Stars (1954)
William Lundigan, Martha Hyer, Herbert Marshall, Richard Carlson, Robert Karnes, Lawrence Dobkin, Dawn Addams, Michael Fox, James Best
C-81 mins.

I’m pretty sure the scientific rationale for the film’s action is faulty (see here for goofs), but it does give a large cast of character actors a chance to emote a lot. Most of the movie is concerned with weeding out astronaut candidates for what seems a suicidal mission.

~Gog (1954)
Richard Egan, Constance Dowling, Herbert Marshall, Phillip Van Zandt, Michael Fox, William Schallert, Valerie Vernon, Byron Kane
C-85 mins.

"The doctor says it isn’t serious, just too much radiation."
"Can you hold off the robots until we get there?"

"In space, there is no such thing as a weaker sex."
"That’s why I like it here."

Skulduggery involving nuclear reactors, robots, and a fiberglass airplane. Not a great film by any means, but at least it has a few novel notions.

To be continued.

Mike Gray