The Invisible Boy (1957)

Article #1702 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-11-2005
Posting Date: 4-10-2006
Directed by Herman Hoffman
Featuring Richard Eyer, Philip Abbott, Diane Brewster

When a scientist has his boy trained to play chess by a supercomputer, the boy suddenly develops the ability to rebuild a robot that came from the future. However, when the boy hooks up the robot to the computer to remove his prime directive, things take a sinister turn.

The first two times I watched this movie I was not impressed; despite the fact that someone at MGM rightly thought enough of Robby the Robot to use him in another movie, this was certainly no FORBIDDEN PLANET. Yet, Bill Warren’s essay on this movie in KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES did make me rethink my views on the movie; he makes a good argument about the sophistication and the complexity of the plot, and watching the movie with that in mind, I agree with him. The movie really does an excellent job of putting the pieces of the plot together.

However, I still feel the movie has some real problems. The movie’s comic tone doesn’t really mesh with the darker tone that comes in during the second half of the movie. The comedy is variable; for me, the high point is the scene where the boy leads the newly reconstructed robot around to the scientists only to be greeted with indifference, while the low point is when the boy spies on his parents in their bedroom. When you consider that this movie is to some extent a children’s movie, this last scene makes me feel downright queasy, as does a later scene where the boy is about to undergo horrible torture; this latter scene reminded of a scene in another boy-and-his-robot movie, TOBOR THE GREAT. The movie is also hampered by indifferent direction and variable acting. And one scene has always annoyed me; the scene where the army tries to prevent Robby from entering the spaceship only to have him vanish from their sight (after they attack him with a flame thrower) only to appear magically behind them might be appropriate in a fantasy, but I expect something more believable in a science fiction movie.

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