"Tobor the Great" is lightly amusing, engaging sci-fi, which could well be described as the tale of "a boy and his robot". People such as Dr. Ralph Harrison (Charles Drake, "It Came from Outer Space") and the eminent Professor Arnold Nordstrom (Taylor Holmes, "Kiss of Death" '47) don't believe that human beings should be subjected to the unknown perils of space travel. So Nordstrom has hit upon the answer: the title robot, which has been designed to be a sentient being which people can communicate with telepathically. When enemy agents kidnap Nordstrom and his grandson "Gadge" (Billy Chapin, "The Night of the Hunter"), to force the old man to divulge his secrets, Tobor swings (so to speak) into action.
There's a lot of set-up to get to the pay-off in this minor but diverting, and mostly harmless, story. Tobor may be no Robby the Robot, but "he" is a fairly cool character nonetheless. The movie is always fun when Tobor is stomping around, breaking things, offering a hand in friendship, foiling the bad guys...and, in the movies' most priceless sequence, driving a jeep.
Some of the human characters take some time getting used to. Harrison comes off as a volatile jerk at first, and "Gadge" is the perfect stereotype of a kid of that era, given to proclamations such as "Gosh!" and "Gee willikers!" But the cast delivers amiable performances (they're NOT terrible). Also co-starring are Karin Booth ("Jungle Man-Eaters"), Steven Geray ("Spellbound"), Hal Baylor ("A Boy and His Dog"), Peter Brocco ("Johnny Got His Gun"), Alan Reynolds ("Cape Fear" '62), William Schallert ('The Patty Duke Show'), Robert Shayne ('Adventures of Superman'), and Lyle Talbot ("Plan 9 from Outer Space"). Holmes has a warm, wise presence as the egghead who sets the story in motion.
As was said, it's not completely harmless. People may wince at the fact that the bad guys are prepared to torture young Gadge to get the old man to spill the beans.
Fortunately, "Tobor the Great" never dwells too long on unpleasantness, and heads towards a rousing conclusion where our hero robot saves the day. Fans of 1950s sci-fi may find it charming.
Six out of 10.
Tobor the Great
Tobor the Great
As projected here, a thinly-disguised NASA, working with nuclear rockets, is ready for manned flights in the mid-fifties...but Dr. Ralph Harrison doesn't think so, and resigns in protest. Colleague Prof. Nordstrom promptly enlists his aid in developing an alternative robot Spaceman! Naturally, foreign spies are keenly interested... Uses documentary footage of early space research.
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January 18, 2018 at 12:56 AM