Tobor the Great

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(4/10) Known for its impressive, if clunky, robot, this 1954 independent film is pure kiddie fare. It was adapted from a more serious draft about using robotic test pilots for space flight, but as the budget went down, it became a juvenile ”boy and his robot” movie with a tacked-on communist spy subplot for enchancing the action. Contrary to popular belief, the robot was not designed by Robert Kinoshita. A mildly entertaining run. William Schallert and Lyle Talbot make brief appearances.

Tobor the Great (1954, USA). Directed by Lee Sholem. Written by Philip MacDonald & Carl Dudley. Starring: Charles Drake, Karin Booth, Billy Chapin, Taylor Holmes, Steven Geray, Franklyn Farnum, William Schallert, Lyle Talbot. Produced by Richard Goldstone for Dudley Pictures Corporation. IMDb rating: 5.2/10. Tomatometer: N/A. Metascore: N/A.

Taylor Holmes as Prof. Nordstrom follows Tobor carrying Billy Chapin.

Taylor Holmes as Prof. Nordstrom follows Tobor carrying Billy Chapin.

In his splendid fifties sci-fi bible Keep Watching the Skies, Bill Warren points out that boys and robots have gone hand in hand since the fifties. We do heartily agree, though we hope that Hollywood would soon realise that there are plenty of girls who like robots as well. But gender issues aside, Tobor the Great is really the starting point for films about boys and their robots, a subgenre that has been getting mauled with steadily declining Transformers movies in the last years. Where robots had primarily been depicted as threats in the few instants they had appeared on previous movies, Tobor the Great was one of the first to be used for good. Continue reading