robot eht taerg


TOBOR THE GREAT sounded like it was going to be fun —

Me: “His name is ‘robot’ backwards!”

Fiona: “I love that he’s called ‘the Great’!”

— but turned out to be Republic Pictures’ answer to THE INVISIBLE BOY — not good.

(I’ve never even made it far enough into THE INVISIBLE BOY for Robby the Robot to show up — the only reason for watching.)

TOBOR, enjoyably clunky in design, becomes kind of a bore because he doesn’t talk. However, he responds to telepathic summons, which leads to an Exciting Climax.

The lovable old scientist and his Spunky Grandson Gadge (!) are being held hostage by Russian spy Stephen Geray and his henchmen. Loveable O.S. is being forced to divulge/jot down his Secret Formula — the bad guys actually tear open his spunky G.’s shirt and threaten to blowtorch the youngster! The spunky G. starts concentrating hard, summoning Tobor with the power of his mind!

Tobor hears, and comes lumbering cross-country to the rescue!

I like this because it’s an emotive fantasy — it taps into the Power of Prayer, a moving dream for any lad who has determined by Actual Experiment that you can pray until your frontal lobes rot off but GOD AIN’T COMING. Tobor is better than God — he actually answers your prayers, and then smashes the bullies’ faces in which his huge steel pincers. This is what we want from a deity. We don’t tend to get it.

12 Responses to “robot eht taerg”

  1. “Invisible Boy” is worth watching just because it’s pretty warped for a kiddie fun film. Main memory is the Invisible Boy loudly giggling as his parents are about to get sexy, provoking his father to near violence. It’s played for innocent laughs — or is it? Quietly nightmare-inducing stuff.

  2. 50’s Kiddie Sci-Fi was ALL nightmare. “Invaders From Mars” anyone?

    Robby the Robot was mass-produced as a toy. My father was in the toy business so I got the first one right out of the factory. No idea where it is today.

  3. Damn, that Robby would be worth a fortune, David!

    The fun thing about old robots in movies is that they already look like toys.

    OK, I’ll have to watch Invisible Boy one day. Maybe I’ll fast-forward the exposition to get to Robby and the high weirdness.

    Invaders from Mars is of course quite literally a nightmare, caused by too many bubble-gum cards and comic books, no doubt.

  4. Here’s a “post-modern” robot:

  5. And here’s another

  6. Sadly, I wasn’t the first kid on my block to get a poseable toy Sean Young.

  7. Tobor also got a TV pilot, but the series never materialized. It’s not quite the loss to culture that as not getting a weekly Chamber of Horrors series, but it’s relatively harmless.

  8. chris schneider Says:

    “Spunky grandson Gadge” — sure this wasn’t an allegorical retelling of life at The Actors’ Studio?

    Actually, I’m all in favor of science-fiction films where protagonists’ shirts are torn open. (I won’t say “sci-fi,” which reportedly Ursula Le Guin pronounces, mockingly, as “skiffy.”) Although that’s not the scenario I, myself, would’ve chosen.

  9. John Seal Says:

    Tobor actually wasn’t Republic’s answer to The Invisible Boy, which came three years later. Unless, of course, we want to continue the backwards theme, and think of it as The Elbisivni Boy. The last shall be first, etc, etc.

    And speaking of The Invisible Boy, it recently re-surfaced on TCM here in the States. I’ve always rather liked it (certainly more than Tobor), so recommend you give it another chance. It’s no classic, mind, but enjoyable fun.

  10. Elbisivni Yob sounds quite good. Maybe I’ll watch it backwards.

    I still maintain that this was Republic’s answer to IB, even iof the question had not yet been asked. They made up in speed what they lacked in movie-making.

  11. Randy Cook Says:

    INVISIBLE BOY I also couldn’t get through, if only because Richard Eyer (Barani the Genie from 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD) just sounds WRONG without that Petula Clark double-tracked voice. There. Mentioned two of my fetishes in one sentence. My work here is done.

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