Oh, My Gog! Not to Mention Magog!

DATELINE: Forgotten Classic? 

 Infamous Gog and Herbert Marshall.

Back in the early 1950s, one of the way-ahead-of-its-time movies was something called Gog (out of your Bible as a nasty evil force). The movie turned Gog into a “brain machine,” because no one dared to call it a computer back then.

Gog and Magog are robots with independent thinking skills. The computers must deal with out of control nuclear power where no man can go. Without much overt horror, this thinking man’s vision of the future went down the tubes with nary a fly-by.

More than a decade before Kubrick unleashed the HAL computer as villain on A Space Odyssey,Ivan Tors of Flipper fame turned his vision loose in a desert military base, top secret, a few years before the government created Area 51.

No wonder this movie in 3-D was a bomb. No one in the days of flying saucer mania believed in this stuff really would take over TV in the 21stcentury. The movie plot was years ahead of crypto-zoology and Artificial Intelligence with evil intent.

The movie starred Richard Egan, or is that Richard Carlson? You know any good sci-fi/horror effort in those years had to star one of them.

And, as the distinguished scientist, you had Herbert Marshall heading down the road that Vincent Price would later own.  This is a few years before Marshall had a big hit with an original shocker, The Fly. Marshall is also long-past the razor’s edge here.

Apart from the high-tech predictions, you have a great many silly low-tech, insipid notions, like a windshield wiper on the glass of a lab window—and steam radiation heat out of pipes.

Gog was a big disappointment to the drive-in audiences of the age, and its lost color and 3-D view on TV never helped it achieve any kind of post-release respect.



Five Minutes in a Balloon is Enough

DATELINE: Movies Not Recommended, but Must-See



Pictured is the irrepressible Billy Gilbert




You have to love a family movie that features more mayhem than a James Bond movie, but that was 1962 when violence was considered entertainment for children.

Bad guys are stabbed, assaulted, thrown out of a balloon gondola, and are otherwise dispatched with aplomb. And what a gondola! Five weeks in this luxury balloon would be comparable to a stay at the Ritz.

Irwin Allen went on to fame as a television producer of moronic science fiction on a weekly basis, but in the beginning he put together big screen thrills. Five Weeks in a Balloon has to be seen to be disbelieved. We are still in a state of shock worse than eating plain and simple sugar by the tablespoon.

An all-star cast makes a mockery of Jules Verne. Sir Cedric Hardwick and Herbert Marshall wear wigs that were woven by the square pound. They look like they are ready to serve at Versailles and deserve their closeup on the guillotine.

When Red Buttons is the broad comedy element, you know you are in fantasyland. When Fabian is the young leading man, you know you are watching the wrong movie.

Barbaras Luna and Eden give off the raven haired and blonde haired pulchritude with talents at their peak of youth.

Worse yet, the Brothers Four sing a theme that sounds like we are heading for Gilligan’s Island, but it was the Wellingtons who ripped off the style and tone for the big TV hit. Nevertheless, we were stranded like the professor with a bunch of idiotic subplots.

Throw in Billy Gilbert, Peter Lorre, and a chimpanzee, and you will be agog.


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