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15 Out-of-This-World Facts About Forbidden Planet

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The iconic sci-fi adventure Forbidden Planet is celebrating its 60th anniversary today. Featuring stunning visual effects for its day and the beloved genre icon Robby the Robot, the film followed the exploits of the C-57D, an earth ship sent to Altair 4 to find out what happened to a colony mission sent there 20 years earlier. Led by Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen), the team discovers that only Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his teenage daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) survived a deadly attack by an unknown entity. That strange being returns once the crew has arrived, and they fend off its invisible attacks while attempting to convince Dr. Morbius to share the amazing, mind-powered technology from the extinct Krell race that he has discovered on the planet.

In honor of its anniversary, here are 15 fun facts about this legendary film.

1. FORBIDDEN PLANET WAS HOLLYWOOD'S FIRST TIME GOING COMPLETELY OUT OF THIS WORLD.

While plenty of previous science fiction films had earthlings exploring other worlds, Forbidden Planet was the first film to be set entirely on a foreign planet. While there are plenty of outdoor sequences in the film, all of them were shot indoors on a studio soundstage, while many exterior landscape shots are comprised of colorful and detailed matte paintings.

2. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS GROUNDBREAKING.

Forbidden Planet was the first movie to have an entirely electronic score; it was composed by Bebe and Louis Barron, who were pioneers in the field of electronic music and musique concrète. Their otherworldly sounds, both as atmospheric ambience and for special effects, imbued the film with an uneasy tension beyond the onscreen action and dialogue, especially during the tour of the Krell wonders underground. Mass audiences had not heard anything like it before.

3. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS ALSO CONTROVERSIAL.

Because the Barrons did not belong to the Musicians Union, their original intended screen credit for Forbidden Planet, "Electronic Music by Louis and Bebe Barron," was changed to "Electronic Tonalities" thanks to a dispute with the American Federation of Musicians over union regulations. Sadly, their work on the film was then unable to be considered for an Oscar. The couple did go on to score independent films and Broadway musicals, so at least the fruits of their labor were rewarded in other ways.

4. ROBBY THE ROBOT WAS RELATED TO WASHING MACHINES.

Robby's main designer and uncredited builder, Robert Kinoshita, distilled thousands of drawings conceived over five weeks by a team of five men into the iconic design that we know and love today. Prior to working in film, Kinoshita had designed washing machines, so while Robby had an anthropomorphic design in his upper regions, his chest and legs resembled a washing machine tub. No word on whether Robby does laundry, although he did appear in a dream sequence on an episode of Hazel as a maid.

5. ROBERT KINOSHITA DESIGNED ANOTHER ICONIC ROBOT.

That electronic entity being, of course, The Robot from the '60s sci-fi series Lost In Space. While their design was somewhat different, the two cybernetic companions shared a similar "talk box," a display that lit up in tandem with the rhythm of their speech. Robby actually guest starred on three episodes of Lost In Space.

6. ROBBY GOT A SPIN-OFF MOVIE A YEAR LATER.

After the success of Forbidden Planet, screenwriter Cyril Hume was re-enlisted to come up with an earthbound movie in which Robby, brought to our world through a time warp, was reanimated by the bratty son of a scientist/mathematician involved with a government supercomputer that seeks to control the planet via satellite. The result was The Invisible Boy. (Which is awful. Save that 90 minutes of your life.)

7. ROBBY RACKED UP A LOT OF OTHER CREDITS.

Forbidden Planet made its lovable bucket of bolts a star, and throughout his career Robby racked up more than two dozen film and TV credits, including The Invisible Boy, The Thin Man (TV series), Lost In Space, The Twilight Zone, Wonder Woman, Mork and Mindy, and Gremlins. He has also done TV spots for Charmin, AT&T, and General Electric (that last one in 2012).

8. SIGMUND FREUD WAS AN INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY.

SPOILER ALERT for this fact: There is a reference to one third of Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche, the Id, the part of the unconscious mind that represents our primal needs and desires. In Forbidden Planet, the Id Monster that attacks the crew of the C-57D is conjured directly out of the subconscious mind of Dr. Morbius and generated by the mind-powered Krell technology that he studies and worships.

9. THE NARRATOR MENTORED CAPTAIN MARVEL.

The film's opening narrator Les Tremayne appeared onscreen as the Mentor to Billy Batson/Captain Marvel in the 1970s TV show Shazam!, which was based on the DC Comics title of the same name. Billy and his Mentor traveled around the country to help people in need. All Billy had to do was say the magic word "Shazam!" to be transformed into the mighty Captain Marvel.

10. FORBIDDEN PLANET REFLECTED THE SEXISM OF THE TIME.

When three of the crewmen meet Dr. Morbius' naive 19-year-old daughter Altaira for the first time, they all entertain thoughts of conquering her. Lt. Jerry Farman takes advantage of her innocence early by teaching her to kiss, for which he is chastised by Commander Adams, who later seduces her (after lecturing her on her skimpy wardrobe). Given the fact that these men are on an investigatory mission and are there to help any survivors of the original search party, this is rather exploitative. Yet Altaira's father does not seem concerned.

11. TWO FAMED '70S TV ACTORS MADE EARLY APPEARANCES IN THE MOVIE.

The starship's communications offer was played by Richard Anderson, who would later become well known for his role as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man. One of the crewmen was an uncredited James Best, who later portrayed the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes Of Hazzard.

12. THERE'S A LOT OF FORBIDDEN PLANET MERCHANDISE.

Like any iconic genre movie, Forbidden Planet has spawned its fair share of merch, including ship models and other model kits, lunchboxes, action figures, pins, and more. The title also inspired a chain of pop culture stores with locations in New York City and London.

13. THE FILM INFLUENCED SEVERAL ICONIC SCI-FI FRANCHISES.

Forbidden Planet seems to have had some influence on Star Trek, particularly the transporter room effect that was likely inspired by the statis chambers used for light jumps in the film. Some viewers think a Borg cube resembles the movie's Krell underground cube structure, which is 20 miles long on each side. Further, the concept of a space crew going on an interplanetary mission was central to Star Trek. "Forbidden Planet could have been the pilot film for Star Trek," star Leslie Nielsen told the Houston Chronicle in 2006. "And maybe it was."

The movie also inspired the four-part Doctor Who tale "Planet of Evil" from 1975, which was conceived by writer Louis Marks, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, and script editor Robert Holmes as a cross between Forbidden Planet and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. In this story, the Doctor and Sarah visit the planet Zeta Minor, where only a professor of a geological expedition from the planet Morestra has survived the attack of an unseen entity. A Morestran military team also arrives to investigate.

Finally, the tractor beam generator in Star Wars looks like part of the Krell machine network, while a hologram sequence is reminiscent of the message Princess Leia sends to Obi-Wan Kenobi via R2-D2. Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt acknowledges even a subconscious influence of the atmospheric sounds within the Krell machinery on the hums and rumblings inside the Death Star.

14. DISNEY PLAYED A PART IN FORBIDDEN PLANET’S VISUAL EFFECTS.

The special effects sequences in the film, notably the Id Monster attacking the crew, were designed by Joshua Meador, who was on loan from Disney for the project. Two years earlier, Meador was part of the Oscar-winning visual effects team for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea that was also subcontracted from Disney by MGM. Meador oversaw effects for many major Disney animated features including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi.

15. THE FILMMAKERS WERE RECYCLERS.

Forbidden Planet was shot on same stage as The Wizard of Oz, with bits of Munchkinland used for Altaira's garden. In an interesting twist, some of Forbidden Planet's costumes (including the crewmen uniforms and Altaira's clothing) were re-used in Queen of Outer Space, a 1958 sci-fi movie starring Zsa Zsa Gabor in which a space crew that has crash landed on Venus attempts to overthrow its female dictator, who has banished men from the planet.

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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter. She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: no team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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12 Pieces of 100-Year-Old Advice for Dealing With Your In-Laws
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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

The familial friction between in-laws has been a subject for family counselors, folklorists, comedians, and greeting card writers for generations—and getting along with in-laws isn't getting any easier. Here are some pieces of "old tyme" advice—some solid, some dubious, some just plain ridiculous—about making nice with your new family.

1. ALWAYS VOTE THE SAME WAY AS YOUR FATHER-IN-LAW (EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE).

It's never too soon to start sowing the seeds for harmony with potential in-laws. An 1896 issue of one Alabama newspaper offered some advice to men who were courting, and alongside tips like “Don’t tell her you’re wealthy. She may wonder why you are not more liberal,” it gave some advice for dealing with prospective in-laws: “Always vote the same ticket her father does,” the paper advised, and “Don’t give your prospective father-in-law any advice unless he asks for it.”

2. MAKE AN EFFORT TO BE ATTRACTIVE TO YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW.

According to an 1886 issue of Switchmen’s Journal, “A greybeard once remarked that it would save half the family squabbles of a generation if young wives would bestow a modicum of the pains they once took to please their lovers in trying to be attractive to their mothers-in-law.”

3. KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF.

In 1901, a Wisconsin newspaper published an article criticizing the 19th century trend of criticizing mothers-in-law (a "trend" which continues through to today):

“There has been a foolish fashion in vogue in the century just closed which shuts out all sympathy for mothers-in-law. The world is never weary of listening to the praises of mothers ... Can it be that a person who is capable of so much heroic unselfishness will do nothing worthy of gratitude for those who are dearest and nearest to her own children?”

Still, the piece closed with some advice for the women it was defending: “The wise mother-in-law gives advice sparingly and tries to help without seeming to help. She leaves the daughter to settle her own problems. She is the ever-blessed grandmother of the German fairy tales, ready to knit in the corner and tell folk stories to the grandchildren.”

4. IF RECEIVING ADVICE, JUST LISTEN AND SMILE. EVEN IF IT PAINS YOU.

Have an in-law who can't stop advising you on what to do? According to an 1859 issue of The American Freemason, you'll just have to grin and bear it: “If the daughter-in-law has any right feeling, she will always listen patiently, and be grateful and yielding to the utmost of her power.”

Advice columnist Dorothy Dix seemed to believe that it would be wise to heed an in-law's advice at least some of the time. Near the end of World War II, Dix received a letter from a mother-in-law asking what to do with her daughter-in-law, who had constantly shunned her advice and now wanted to move in with her. Dix wrote back, “Many a daughter-in-law who has ignored her husband’s mother is sending out an SOS call for help in these servantless days,” and advised the mother-in-law against agreeing to the arrangement.

5. STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN. AND CLOSETS. AND CUPBOARDS.

An 1881 article titled "Concerning the Interference of the Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law in Domestic Affairs," which appeared in the Rural New Yorker, had a great deal of advice for the father-in-law:

“He will please to keep out of the kitchen just as much as he possibly can. He will not poke his nose into closets or cupboards, parley with the domestics, investigate the condition of the swill barrel, the ash barrel, the coal bin, worry himself about the kerosene or gas bills, or make purchases of provisions for the family under the pretence that he can buy more cheaply than the mistress of the house; let him do none of these things unless especially commissioned so to do by the mistress of the house.”

The article further advises that if a father-in-law "thinks that the daughter-in-law or son-in-law is wasteful, improvident or a bad manager, the best thing for him to do, decidedly, is to keep his thought to himself, for in all probability things are better managed and better taken care of by the second generation than they were by the first. And even if they are not, it is far better to pass the matter over in silence than to comment upon the same, and thereby engender bad feelings.”

6. NEVER COHABITATE.

While there is frequent discussion about how to achieve happiness with the in-laws in advice columns and magazines, rarely does this advice come from a judge. In 1914, after a young couple was married, they quickly ran into issues. “The wife said she was driven from the house by her mother-in-law,” a newspaper reported, “and the husband said he was afraid to live with his wife’s people because of the threatening attitude of her father on the day of the wedding.” It got so bad that the husband was brought up on charges of desertion. But Judge Strauss gave the couple some advice:

“[Your parents] must exercise no influence over you now except a peaceful influence. You must establish a home of your own. Even two rooms will be a start and lay up a store of happiness for you.”

According to the paper, they agreed to go off and rent a few rooms.

Dix agreed that living with in-laws was asking for trouble. In 1919, she wrote that, “In all good truth there is no other danger to a home greater than having a mother-in-law in it.”

7. COURT YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW.

The year 1914 wasn’t the first time a judge handed down advice regarding a mother-in-law from the bench. According to The New York Times, in 1899 Magistrate Olmsted suggested to a husband that “you should have courted your mother-in-law and then you would not have any trouble ... I courted my mother-in-law and my home life is very, very happy.”

8. THINK OF YOUR IN-LAWS AS YOUR "IN LOVES."

Don't think of your in-laws as in-laws; think of them as your family. In 1894, an article in The Ladies’ Home Journal proclaimed, “I will not call her your mother-in-law. I like to think that she is your mother in love. She is your husband’s mother, and therefore yours, for his people have become your people.”

Helen Marshall North, writing in The Home-Maker: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine four years earlier, agreed: “No man, young or old, who smartly and in public, jests about his mother-in-law, can lay the slightest claim to good breeding. In the first place, if he has proper affection for his wife, that affection includes, to some extent at least, the mother who gave her birth ... the man of fine thought and gentle breeding sees his own mother in the new mother, and treats her with the same deference, and, if necessary, with the same forbearance which he gladly yields his own.”

9. BE THANKFUL YOU HAVE A MOTHER-IN-LAW ... OR DON'T.

Historical advice columns had two very different views on this: A 1901 Raleigh newspaper proclaimed, “Adam’s [of Adam and Eve] troubles may have been due to the fact that he had no mother-in-law to give advice,” while an earlier Yuma paper declared, “Our own Washington had no mother-in-law, hence America is a free nation.”

10. DON'T BE PICKY WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A WIFE; CHOOSE A MOTHER-IN-LAW INSTEAD.

By today's standards, the advice from an 1868 article in The Round Table is incredibly sexist and offensive. Claiming that "one wife is, after all, pretty much the same as another," and that "the majority of women are married at an age when their characters are still mobile and plastic, and can be shaped in the mould of their husband's will," the magazine advised, “Don’t waste any time in the selection of the particular victim who is to be shackled to you in your desolate march from the pleasant places of bachelorhood into the hopeless Siberia of matrimony ... In other words ... never mind about choosing a wife; the main thing is to choose a proper mother-in-law,” because "who ever dreamt of moulding a mother-in-law? That terrible, mysterious power behind the throne, the domestic Sphynx, the Gorgon of the household, the awful presence which every husband shudders when he names?"

11. KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE.

As an 1894 Good Housekeeping article reminded readers:

“Young man! your wife’s mother, your redoubtable mother-in-law, is as good as your wife is and as good as your mother is; and who is your precious wife's mother-in-law? And you, venerable mother-in-law, may perhaps profitably bear in mind that the husband your daughter has chosen with your sanction is not a worse man naturally than your husband who used to dislike your mother as much as your daughter’s husband dislikes you, or as much as you once disliked your husband’s mother.”

12. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, MARRY AN ORPHAN.

If all else fails, The Round Table noted that “there is one rule which will be found in all cases absolutely certain and satisfactory, and that is to marry an orphan; though even then a grandmother-in-law might turn up sufficiently vigorous to make a formidable substitute.”

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