“Deadly Planet” 1954
(Forbidden Planet or Planet Bur [Planet of Storms] quasi-pastiche, first film appearance) Make a trailer?
Tagline: “A Weird Journey To The Furthest Reaches Of Outer Space! A Strange And Forbidding Place Where No One And Nothing Are What They Seem! Can They Escape The… Deadly Planet?”
In 1952 a screenplay was being shopped around to various studios in Hollywood to very unenthusiastic reception. Planet of Death was unlike anything Hollywood executives had ever seen. Written by newcomer Dean Shah, it was a familiar enough tale but told through the setting of an outer space adventure.
The crew of the interplanetary space saucer BR-549 led by Captain Hanno receives a distress beacon originating from the distant, previously unexplored planet, Exxilon 1. The crew is ordered to land on the planet, investigate the source of the signal, and report their findings back to Earth. Upon landing on the planet, they discover the lone survivor of the Icarus Party, Dr. Hephaestus . The Icarus Party was a colony ship of doctors, scientists and engineers presumed to have been lost in space when all contact was lost with them twenty years earlier...
(Blog Edit: Full plot synopsis in the book 😁 )
Each of the studios admitted that it was an impressive concept, but the executives believed it was financially impractical to bring to the silver screen and passed on the project. All, that is, except Majestic Pictures. Majestic was primarily a B movie and serials studio, but studio head Michael T. Snidely was keen to expand the studio’s output with hopes of becoming a more “respectable” organization. Snidely was impressed with the script and the passion of the writer, and his faith in the project led to Majestic taking a big financial gamble. Until that time, most science fiction films were thinly-scripted, B movies rushed into and through production. This production would be unlike any Majestic had produced before. This film would be a million dollar, full color epic motion picture.
In 1953, planning and concept art was produced under the watchful eye of both Snidely and writer Shah, who was brought on board to assist in seeing his vision, now titled Deadly Planet, brought to life.
The design and construction of the film’s robot character was executed by T.M. Lindsey, an eccentric artist/engineer/inventor known for creating unusual items utilizing (then) relatively unknown techniques and materials. The robot’s design was very cutting-edge at the time and the name RoBob was attributed to his mispronouncing the word “robot” during his first programming session. Snidely and Shah were so amused by the idea that it was inserted into the film and the name and “joke” were retained throughout most of RoBob’s film and TV appearances.
In 1954, Deadly Planet was released to mostly positive reviews and respectable box office returns, but was not a huge blockbuster. The unusual “downer” ending is usually blamed for the film not being more successful since audiences were used to stories where the hero got the girl and lived happily-ever-after.
More to come...