Man, I have been on one hell of a nostalgic kick the last month or so. I think a large part of that is due to my binge watching a lot of the classic Dr. Who episodes. Anyways, I am out of old TV movies that I remember as a kid so I decided to go back to some old Sci-Fi/B-movies that are on my list to watch that I haven;t gotten around to yet. This list is comprised of movies that were either mentioned or had clips shown in either Attack Of The 50 Foot Monstermania, or the Name that B-movie Monster video on YouTube. Both of these have essentially been used as something of a shopping list for my movie purchases so I am sure to have some fun over the next few weeks. So let’s get things started with today’s movie, Tobor The Great.
The plot: After World War II, a new agency, C.I.F.C. (Civil Interplanatery Flight Commission), was created to work on creating new fissionable materials, as well as stronger materials for construction of rockets for space flight. After seeing a volunteer pass out during the testing of G-forces, Doctor Ralph Harrison goes to see the commissioner of C.I.F.C. and resigns his post, saying that manned space flight is too dangerous for the test flights. Professor Arnold Nordstrom, who was meeting with the commissioner at the time, pays a visit to Harrison, saying he feels the same way that he does and thinks they can work together to come up with a solution to the issue. The two head to the airport lounge to discuss the situation when they are approached by Mr. Gilligan, a reporter, who tries to get an interview out of them. Nordstrom tells Gilligan that he will hold a press conference in 30 days at his home laboratory in California, where he will unveil their project. The two scientists then leave to catch their flight, unaware that a man in glasses had been listening to their conversation and follows after them. When they arrive at Nordstrom’s home, Nordstrom introduces Harrison to his daughter Janice and his grandson Brian (Gadge). before taking Harrison down to his secret lab, which Gadge has shown he can unlock. When the time for the press conference arrives, Nordstrom shows the assembled journalists Tobor (which he jokes is simply robot spelled backwards). He explains that while he can control Tobor with the control box, it is also capable of receiving commands via ESP and is also capable of feeling emotions. After giving a demonstration of how Tobor reacts to emotional stimuli, he admits that Tobor is incomplete due to the long range communications not being finished. Once the demonstration is complete, Nordstrom and Harrison escort the journalists out of the lab, allowing Gadge, who had been listening to the presentation, to sneak into the lab so he can see Tobor. Gadge messes with the control box, causing Tobor to approach him and Gadge manages to avoid him but Tobor walks past him and heads upstairs, where he begins smashing some things in the living room before Gadge is able to get him under control and back downstairs. Later, Harrison, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom’s assistant Karl are cleaning up when Harrison realizes that there are one too many chairs out, indicating that someone had snuck into the demonstration. They quickly contacted the local sheriff and ask him to check the license plates for the people that had attended the demonstration and to alert the FBI to the matter. Meanwhile, the foreign spy has met with some of his men, who have been observing Nordstrom’s home, and after noticing that there have been no guards posted, are making plans on how to obtain Tobor. Back at the lab, Nordstrom and Harrison, knowing that someone might be trying to steal Tobor, work on improving him, with Nordstrom constructing a transmitter inside a fountain pen that can be used to control him. Later, they initiate a simulation for Tobor when he goes berserk, accidentally injuring Gadge in the process, but once they regain control of him, Tobor appears to express remorse towards Gadge for injuring him. That night, the foreign agents attempt to break into the house but are repulsed by Nordstrom’s defenses. Deciding to switch tactics, they send an invitation to presentation on space flight to Nordstrom and Gadge and when the two arrive, they are kidnapped by the foreign agents. Back at the house, Pentagon officials are arriving to see a demonstration of Tobor but when Nordstrom and Gadge haven’t returned, Harrison calls the police and alerts the officials as to what is going on. Back at the foreign spies hideout, Nordstrom is forced to write down the formulas for his research or else Gadge will be hurt but he uses the opportunity to use the pen to signal Tobor. Back at the house, Tobor breaks free from the lab and heads out and Harrison, realizing that Nordstrom must be controlling him, has everyone follow him. Back at the hideout, the foreign spy realizes that Nordstrom must be using the pen to communicate with Topor and quickly breaks it, causing Tobor to stop in it’s tracks. When Harrison and the others reach the robot, Harrison decides to turn off the long range communicator and see if Nordstrom and Gadge can contact Tobor via telepathy. Gadge is able to reach Tobor, who resumes his march and eventually breaks into the hideout. Harrison and the others arrive and are able to take the spies into custody, as Tobor picks up Gadge and carries him out of the hideout. Some time later, Tobor is shown to be piloting a space ship into orbit, while Gadge watches and wishes him luck.
This was a somewhat cute little sci-fi movie, though I use that term fairly loosely. The only sci-fi aspect was the creation of Tobor, while the main style seemed to be more drama than anything else. The acting was ok, with Charles Drake (Harrison) and Taylor Holmes (Nordstrom) both doing a good job in their roles. I thought that Karin Booth was decent as Jasmine, what little time that she had on screen, but I was really annoyed with Billy Chapin (Gadge), as he was basically playing the typical annoying “Golly, gee, willikers” type of character that was prevalent in the 50’s. The story was interesting and fairly topical of the times back then. With the Space Race against Russia going on back then, I am sure there were a fair number of people expressing their concern that people were being put through those rigorous testing procedures and whether there was another way to proceed. The special effects were not that good, with Tobor looking somewhat ridiculous to be honest. Definitely worth watching if you are in the mood for one of those pick-me-up type of movies but there were better sci-fi movies that came out that year.
Rating: 3 out of 5