The Cult of Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet (1956) and others (Part Two)

*contains spoilers

Meanwhile the play The Tempest reminds us it’s all a dream as its actors tell us that “our little life is rounded with a sleep”. That’s it, baby, you wake and face the world is a mess or accept that just like in alcoholics anonymous that there are things we can and cannot change except in your own family, community and at the ballot box.

I’ll mention that Robby appeared in the first season episode entitled War of the Robots in Lost in Space as a robot awakened to do battle with Kinoshita’s new robot. He would also appear in episodes of The Addams Family and Columbo.

There is also the episode of The Twilight Zone entitled Uncle Simon which features an appearance by Sir Cedric Hardwicke (1893-1964 emphysema) who was in the futuristic Things to Come (1936) and key sci-fi and horror movies of the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Cedric Hardwicke in Uncle Simon
Constance Ford wanted the will to go to her in The Twilight Zone…
The double entendre of Things to Come (1936)

Robby’s top section appears in this episode as Uncle Simon (Hardwicke) seems to have created a robot in his own image… at least in personality as, before he dies, he takes advantage of his niece (actress Constance Ford 1923-93 cancer) and ‘time bandits’ her as a carer as she hopes to be paid back in the will when he dies. Anyway, I guess the selfishness of such a hope is paid back in kind as the robot which looks a bit like a cross between the head armour of outlaw Ned Kelly (1854-80 hanged) and Number 5 in Short Circuit (1985) then emerges as Robby the Robot.

“I am like an infant. I am maturing gradually… I will be a whole being,” says the robot in/of Uncle Simon as Constance tells him to go lubricate himself. The episode sees Constance tied to the robot for monetary gain, but such is an abusive relationship not based on love that goes on and on and the person can’t leave … It’s a lesson of avarice in terms of Simon’s will, both in terms of his will to live beyond the grave and a poor woman’s inability to let go due not only to poverty but also her own greed and the need to survive. Uncle Simon otherwise rots in hell.

This episode was probably one of the last times the original Robby suit was used as there were cheap although very good imitations used later on while the original suit sat perishing in a Los Angeles car and movie museum before it was snapped up by collector and director William Malone (1953-) and restored and later sold for reported millions.

The metropolis from Just Imagine (1930)
Shanghai at night
Moscow at night
The robot in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926)

I’ll mention what is probably a replica Robby – and not the real thing – in the Mork & Mindy episode Dr. Morkenstein from the second season where Robby is voiced by gay actor Roddy McDowell (1928-98 pancreatic cancer) as Mork wears rainbow-coloured braces as he befriends the growing self-awareness of Robby/Roddy and Mork defends him when he had a public nervous breakdown. The best thing is probably to pull the plug and reboot the poor thing… otherwise known as ECT to change back to innocence by solving and forgetting your inner problems. But Robby refuses and instead decides to “die with dignity” as he runs the gamut from simple robot, to sentient being to madness as he coughs and splutters and dies unable to change…

At the end of theis episode Mork reports a usual to Orson that he played The Wizard of Oz and gave a tin man a heart as he made a friend briefly with him/her/it before Robby chose suicide instead of living with himself or being treated for mental illness.

The episode’s theme of consciousness raising on that level also shows how a robot can control bank ATMs around the world… There’s a hint of superintelligence in this episode and how some humans have no sensitivity to being contacted by such an entity or cannot divine the inner and outer spark of genius/self. Robby/Roddy jokes that the Coke machine is good: “But she’s only nice for money” and we see that his dry sense of humour is intact in the same degree it was in The Invisible Boy even if it slightly without self-insight which is part of the problem – but for an episode of a long forgotten tv show it also points to a solution.

Poor Robin Williams…
Orson with a cigar
A cigar shaped object in the 1950s

“When you create someone and you nurture them and they grow… There comes a time when they have to choose life or die their own death… I will always keep him right here,” says Mork with tears in his eyes with his hand on his heart. Nanu Nanu! I guess it beats leaving a rusty razor blade in the cell within reach in the Ministry of Love in George Orwell’s 1984 as somebody like Robby gets gaslit to death.

Let’s close with another supercomputer movie which stars Robby which is the sequel to Forbidden Planet entitled The Invisible Boy (1957). It was produced by Forbidden Planet’s Nicholas Nayfack (1909-58 heart attack) shortly before his death.

The Invisible Boy when compared to the seriousness of Forbidden Planet is far more whimsical but at its heart just as serious as it debates the possibility of a supercomputer of the Superintellignce (2020) variety which can also be compared to Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970). Those film showed a computer deciding to become benevolent or malevolent over the behaviour of one chosen individual in the former, while Colossus also made a decision based on the behaviour of its creator… Whether or not you believe in a benevolent supercomputer, Forbin sees the computers of the world melding into one formation and there were recent reports of China’s supercomputer software controlling the value of Bitcoin within its realm… Is it to be one realm? Superpowers exist among the supercomputer/s.

The Invisible Boy (1957) poster
Robby and the supercomputer in The Invisible Boy (1957)
Colossus and its creator …

In The Invisible Boy we have a computer which astounds the military with its mathematics in terms of vital statistics: “Could it be lying to us?,” asks a general played by Harold J. Stone (1913-2005 natural causes) about a statistic that predicts an attack by a foreign power being a certainty but against the odds.

“Data insufficient due to having human element involved …” adds the computer which shows that it predicts it will always be man who will always be unpredictable one in charge.

The scientist in charge of the computer is an egghead whereas at home his young son played by Richard Eyer (1945-) isn’t very smart and has an annoying habit of slurping his soup which his father is rather peeved about just to compound the situation. Young Tim is being bullied at school as his father is proud of his black eye. Eyer would rather exist peacefully.

Actor Eyer was one of the few child actors who didn’t turn to drugs and ruin his life after he retired from acting at a young age and got educated and became a grade school teacher and a father before he divorced. He played the genie who is released from a bottle in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and previously had bit parts in such films as Hugo Fregonese’s (1908-87 heart attack) The Raid (1954) and Friendly Persuasion (1956). He’s lucky that Liberace didn’t use his friendly persuasion on him in the movie Sincerely Yours (1955) as Libby uses his binoculars to spy on Eyer at the park and then stalks him with presents in that remake of The Man who Played God (1932). It’s almost like grooming but let’s get back to The Invisible Boy…

Television re-release poster
Richard Eyer gets help on set with his homework

“You have no choice…. Accept the situation, relax…. Watch the lights… you’re sleepy, very sleepy…. Listen and remember,” these are the words of the supercomputer as he suddenly turns Eyer into a genius who thrashes his father at chess.

It’s then that his father tells him about a strange professor who dreamt about creating a time machine… It is then that Eyer spots in the abandoned lab a picture of a robot emerging from a starship marked as being in the year 2309 AD. It turns out that pieces of Robby the Robot are lying around the office and Eyer is left alone to assemble Robby back into working order. “I’ve come for you,” Eyer tells Robby. And when he’s assembled Robby tells Timmi/Eyer that his directives like always cause him not to let harm come to humans… This is after Eyer tells Robby to build him a mechanical kite which can carry him into the sky like some giant drone! Then Robby is plugged into the supercomputer upon its own suggestion and the robot is suddenly invulnerable to all attack on the planet. “Well, thanks a lot,” Eyer says happily unplugging the robot again: “Come on Robby.”

It’s then that Robby creates a potion that makes Eyer invisible and the boy is wearing a cap with a ‘V’ on it in terms of women and peace and victory and peace.

Does invisibility exist in terms of hypnotism? Can a young person’s mind be programmed and genius unleashed at any moment? Do witches pull down you pants at the supermarket and check you out in aisle four? It’s a worry as the world could be suffering from an invisible invasion or whatever. How did my lunchbox suddenly change position on my way to aisle five? Otherwise, there’s possibilities in being hypnotised even while you sleep by a benevolent force which could order your mind sufficiently to live contentedly. But in The Invisible Boy there is a question mark over who should control that hypnotism.

The Invisible Boy (1957) trailer
The traps are set… WarGames (1983) poster
John Wood as the symbol of every man who has a dead son inside their heart named Josh in WarGames (1983)

“You’re in need of a good psychoanalyst,” is a part of the non-existent camaraderie amid the bitchery of the Washington scientists who don’t realise what they have created in The Invisible Boy.

There’s also that idea of no privacy for anyone! Any self-consciousness maybe the result of moral guilt and that carries the stigma of mental illness and neurosis as the pair so often go together. At least these men speak their mind rather than the reserved military types portrayed in this movie who are just as suspect. And Timmi’s parents in this movie don’t mind hitting their son if they feel he has misbehaved.

“I wish she couldn’t see me every time I’m having fun,” says Eyer after his mother disciplines him as Eyer accepts an eye in the sky for surveillance with innocence and not paranoia. A key to possible eternal happiness or contentment with a hiccup or three.

There’s a hint at autism or mental illness as Eyer appears at the dinner table invisible with his parents and his father tells him to “start behaving sensibly” and adds “How long do you think I could hold down a job if they find out I’ve got transparent offspring? … It takes a lot of money to raise one of those unusual children.”

The fostering and care of artistic ambitions seems to be a coded dig about ‘eccentric’ or ‘gifted’ children or ‘transparent’ in terms of their openness and innately good spirituality.

Forbidden Planet (1956) lobby card
In the wake of Sputnik… The Invisible Boy (1957)
A recent Italian movie…

The possibilities of being transparent leads to physical violence as a cure for that ‘transparency’ as Eyer is left alone and breathing heavily for a moment in his bedroom. Then he decides to run away to Australia but Robby suggests the moon instead. All this whimsy is happening as the military are being infiltrated by men implanted with something which makes them obey the vital statistics of the computer and this computer will kill… It has already ordered its own alterations just as Rex Reason (1928-2015 bladder cancer) received his video conference ‘interocitor’ parts through the right channels in the alien invasion of This Island Earth (1955).

“We know who’s at the bottom of it… The guys at the other end of the phone,” says one military about the hotline and the internet in the same breath. A blur in this world full of computers. This internet thing was also hinted at in John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (1964) and its possibility of a military coup in the backrooms.

The ‘interocitor’ in This Island Earth (1955)
I Led 3 Lives: Richard Carlson (right) in Hemo the Magnificent (1957) which cameoed in Gremlins (1984)
The computer in Desk Set (1957)

“I’m just a figurehead around here,” says the general as we wonder whether we’ve had visitors from our past deliver information about our future in terms of technology which will save the planet out of the control of man… and heading towards obsession and unhappiness. One military leader dies suddenly “without a mark on him” from a “stroke”.

The idea of a coup in modern day Western society happened in the backrooms if it happened at all as the ‘QAnon’ fizzer of Trump’s call to arms failed to gain traction.

Surprisingly, this film was written by Irving Wallace (1916-90) who was known for being frank about sex in his books… He worked with Frank Capra (1897-1991 strokes) and Theodor ‘Dr. Seuss’ Geisel (1904-91 cancer) during World War Two … and this ties into Capra directing Hemo the Magnificent (1957) and the voice of Robby the Robot Marvin Miller voicing the Grammy award winning Dr. Suess records of the mid-1950s. Hemo was part of a documentary trilogy and actor Richard Carlson directed The Unchained Goddess (1957) about the weather and is a relation to the theory behind the tempest on our Forbidden Planet.

WarGames (1983) poster
Climate Change: Frank Capra and The Unchained Goddess (1957)
The voice of Robby the Robot Marvin Miller in Dead Reckoning (1947)

I must admit it’s hard to source on the internet sometimes as the credits on IMDb and Wikipedia are constantly changing as history is being rewritten in terms of the internet. I’m sure the same thing is happening in China. Even DVDs are only meant to last 100 years so what are we to do in terms of saving classic Ent – or is it as disposable as plastic these days? Does it matter to those who live only three score and ten?

Irving Wallace also wrote the script for the rather good Dick Powell (1904-63 neck and throat cancer) directed Split Second (1953) which is about various people held hostage in a town on a nuclear testing range where a bomb is about to be dropped. RKO poisoned both the cast and crew of The Conqueror a couple of years later by sending them into a used nuclear test site to shoot and Powell directed that one too.

“It never sleeps or lies idle, every filament of it always working… It’s never in conflict with itself over honor/honour or pity … just an instinct for survival,” says Eyer’s father about the computer and also man’s subconscious which only comes into conflict with others/bullies. Big Brother is watching with an algorithm in terms of a higher intelligence and …

“Earth will be its slave,” so get out in the open air while you can and disengage from your bad forms of Ent despite the temptations of German porn videos.

A ghost town about to explode in Split Second (1953)
The art of exploitation and war in Bitch Slap (2004)
Is it really Anne being protected in this Forbidden Planet (1957) lobby card?
Robby forbids the slap in The Invisible Boy (1957)

When one spy for the computer within Washington is caught, the local media is told that he isn’t feeling very well mentally… As chess and the art of war in terms of the movies WarGames (1983) and Bitch Slap (2004) go together somehow. The latter being a tale of elusive motives among women and a nice one to watch after you’re hooked on Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966) … Look out for the bitch slap as it will humiliate those who haven’t been humiliated as a way of life in terms of gaslighting. It also works on cocky world leaders who don’t align themselves properly to superpowers and leaders who are just plain deluded.

A slap ends the movie as The Invisible Boy’s father goes to spank his child but Robby is there to intervene as the Robot protector of domestic violence around the home and preventer of stress and PTSD in children. There is no excuse for extreme violence but a so-called slap every now and then is seen as a discretionary tool of eternal discipline and peace around home. Some children who have PTSD or ADD or are On the Spectrum do not respond to slaps and it just makes them worse.

Forbidden Planet (1956) trailer
One of many abandoned libraries in the world…
Zardoz (1974)
What is the moral at the end of the silent movie Metropolis (1926)? Check it out!
Little did they know about Covid’s Phase IV or the Pentagon’s four security outlines in The Invisible Boy (1957). Sleep, sleep…. if you can!

I’ll just mention that the same computer in The Invisible Boy was used in the Katherine Hepburn (1907-2003 cardiac arrest) and Spencer Tracy (1900-67 heart attack) movie Desk Set (1957) which was about female genius and terms of reference and also the human ability to think laterally with other human beings – something a computer could never really do… or can it? Is the world already one big computer? And there’s the algorithm once again in terms of software and the red flag. To be acted upon by Big Brother! And what does the man who created Big Brother do when he has made a mistake? Why take an axe to it of course! Bloody Liberace! You could make the Earth Stand Still and make it come to its senses like Michael Rennie did but you cannot control the entire internet and media or the gossip and gaslight in the neighbourhood. Not unless you are Kurt Russell in Escape from L.A. (1996) and then all those crumbling books in Zardoz (1974) will come in handy after all!

And there you have the pure heart of Robby the Robot. Beware of imitations.

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