Things I Read Off the Screen in Kronos

Come up to the Lab...

LABCENTRAL — the top secret government institution dedicated to spaceresearch, nuclearphysics, and weirdlyconjoinedwords.

Welcome to KRONOS!

He’s a BIG SPACE ROBOT. But he doesn’t have any personality, and neither does anybody else in the film.

the Movie

The liveliest character is the lady scientist, played in an inappropriately sultry fashion by Barbara Lawrence. What made her good was that she doesn’t behave like a standard boring B-movie scientist. Also, she’s not really interested in science, she just wants to go to the cinema all the time. When they blow up the giant space robot at the end she’s relieved, mainly because she can resume necking in the back row of the local Roxy with Jeff Morrow. So she’s the only person in the film one might want to get to know.

If you knew S.U.S.I.E...

“Why do you call the computer SUSIE?” she asks, while standing in front of a sign that explains it. Well, it WOULD explain it if the words on the sign made any sense.

Babs may not be the best scientist in the world, but Morrow and his pal are unbelievably stupid, also blind. The script requires them to speculate about an asteroid approaching Earth, which they watch on their big telescope screen / coffee table. But what they see is blatantly a FLYING SAUCER. Yet they continue to calmly talk about an asteroid for like, half an hour of screen time. This may be the worst example ever of a special effects team failing to read the script.

Hubba Hubba

Gee, can Hubbell actually be a first name? True, this guy IS in charge of a big space telescope, so the name has some resonance. But what were his parents thinking? Theory: they asked Mr. Eliot Snr. what he wanted to name his son, and he tried to say “Hubert”, but he was drowning at the time. Mrs. Eliot chose to respect her husband’s last wish.

Actually, I’d rather see that movie than this one.

News on the March!

The news looks bad! But, on the plus side, a State Survey on Housing is Advocated, and Commuter Fares will not go up, so it isn’t all doom and gloom. Chin up!

The Wonderful Dept of Disney

Hubbell, played by Walt Disney’s evil twin, lurks outside the COMPUTING DEPT. He’s been possessed by an alien force. Handed over to a shapeless psychiatrist, he is treated with electro-shock therapy, which makes him lucid, but they don’t like what he has to say so they drug him, allowing the alien force to take over completely! Another victory for psychiatry.

torn from tomorrow's headlines

Opening the paper, he reads an oddly inaccurate headline which nevertheless corresponds closely with what his “lunatic” space scientist has been ranting about. But, like the good Freudian he is, he takes no notice.

While he’s having convulsions, Dr. Hubbel’s face actually starts to GLOW, but nobody thinks anything of it. It’s that kind of film. Director Kurt Neumann was best known for THE FLY. I… I don’t think he can have been a very clever man.

Captain Kronos

The BIG SPACE ROBOT is kind of OK. When he walks about, he’s a cartoon. Otherwise he’s a tin toy. Sometimes he walks about with his legs hidden behind rocks so he doesn’t have to be a cartoon.

It’s a system!

As we were saying, re the new INDIANA JONES film, the portrayal of Latin American countries kind of sucks. Note how Mexico is always orange. KRONOS is a black and white film, so they make do with portraying the country as mostly fields, with people running about, persecuted by a giant robot from space. It’s frankly insulting.

I'm melting!

The scientists defeat the big guy using some special science. He melts like Margaret Hamilton in THE WIZARD OF OZ, only without the dialogue. It might have been quite appropriate for him to moan “What a world, what a world!” before he goes up in a puff of A-bomb test stock footage.

“I came here with a simple dream: a dream of killing all humans. And this is how it must end? Who’s the real seven billion ton robot monster here? Not I. Not… I.” ~ Bender in Futurama.


7 Responses to “Things I Read Off the Screen in Kronos”

  1. “Do you think that you’ll be able to respect a husband who probably pulled the biggest scientific boner of all time?”

    — Jeff Morrow to Barbara Lawrence in a romantic scene on the beach.

    I was going to say that one of my first thoughts in connection with “Kronos,” which I like, is of its conspicuous use of Johnny Mercer’s “Something’s Gotta Give” (written for the Fox musical “Daddy Long Legs”) — and how that song’s title might be said to describe the relations between Kronos and the planet Earth. (Aside: Regal, which released “Kronos,” was a budget subdivision of Fox.)

    Then I came across the line quoted above, discovering it in the ever-reliable Glenn Erickson’s DVD Savant review of “Kronos.” It would be funny, in any case, but it *especially* helps if one is an adolescent male enraptured by thoughts of Big Space Robots and of science-fiction matinees.

    I’ll pretend to be mature, though, and simply remark on Karl Struss’ handsome b&w ‘scope photography. This was, after all, the same man who photographed “Island of Lost Souls” and the Rouben Mamoulian “Jekyll” …

  2. “Hubbell” is the first name of the Robert Redford character in “The Way We Were” — cf. the memorable discussion of that character in the “Ex and the City” episode of SEX AND THE CITY.

  3. Ah yes, I forgot to mention the boner line! It helps that Morrow and Lawrence are in a clinch on the beach at the time.

    The photography is indeed nice, with rich tones and a smooth-gliding camera, even if Neumann’s staging is a bit stiff. The richness is prefigured by the main title (if you see the version called simply “KRONOS”, dark grey letters on black, with the credits appearing in white on top. Rather striking.

  4. Yes, Lawrence is near femme fatale material
    In fact, a nearly got a mistake watching her;

    Did boner mean just that in 1958 I wonder?

    Notice that KRONOS dies overlooking Santa Barbara or wherever
    yet goes critical, goes into a huge mushroom cloud and then suddenly it is in the desert again…or maybe thats all that was left of SB…

    I always love a good sci fi physics movie
    and the idea was a good one
    the view from inside was cool

    but really-all KRONOS needed to do was find the nearest star to its home planet-it could suck fusion energy day and night for centuries and not run out

  5. I guess it would get boring just hanging around a star. Kronos probably just wanted to mess with us.

    It seems very much as if “boner” had only one, innocuous meaning, back in those innocent times.

  6. I suspect “boner” could be considered an abbreviation for “bonehead mistake”, a common enough expression, at least at one time.

  7. Bone(headed err)or?

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