Forbidden Planet Featured at Omaha Film Event
By Kyle Eustice
On Friday, October 23, Omaha Film Historian Bruce Crawford hosts his 37th annual tribute to classic films with a screening of the science fiction classic, Forbidden Planet. Special guest Robert Dix, who portrayed crewman Grey in the film, will be on hand to discuss the film. Artist Nicolosi, once again, has designed a commemorative U.S. Postal Service Envelope honoring the film, which is being unveiled at the event. Hosted at the Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall, the event is also a benefit for the Nebraska Kidney Association. The very busy Crawford took a few moments to discuss the film and what makes it such a classic. Check out Now! Omaha’s October issue for an interview with Mr. Dix.
Now! Omaha (Kyle Eustice): How did you land on Forbidden Planet for the October event?
Bruce Crawford: I have always wanted to do a salute to the film and now with its 60th anniversary approaching, this was the prime opportunity to do so. It has such a huge fan following, not unlike a Star Trek film or a Star Wars film, which in fact those films owe much to this one for many reasons. It was a big budget MGM glossy space opera and still packs a wallop today. Gene Roddenberry had stated publicly that this film was a huge inspiration for Star Trek and when you watch the film you can certainly see the similarities. And Robby the Robot is still the most recognized android in film history. At our event, we will have a display table of replicas of props from the film, including a Robby or two and some folks also in replica uniforms like those worn by the actors in the film. We will also have a U S Postal Service commemorative envelope designed by artist Nicolosi unveiled to celebrate the film with its design reflecting scenes from the movie.
How did you decide on Robert Dix?
There are only three character actors left alive from the film and we are very lucky that Mr.Dix is healthy and available to join us. He comes from a legendary Hollywood family, as his father was silent film star Richard Dix. He is an author, as well as an actor and producer. He is a fabulous story teller and was on the set of the film with some great stories to share with us. Forbidden Planet is so popular, it is guest proof. With other events, we have had no surviving cast members able to attend, such as Steven Bogart as our guest for his fathers classic Casablanca and last springs Some LIke It Hot with Tony Curtis’ daughter Kelly Lee Curtis, and the original King Kong when we had sci fi author Ray Bradbury and special effects legend Ray Harryhausen attending, although they had nothing to do with the making of that film and like all these events, it was a great night. We don’t always have guests who were in the film we are honoring, as some films have no surviving stars or anyone connected at all to the film still alive. Having anyone connected to the films we are honoring come back to join us and share their memories is a real plus, and adds so much enjoyment of the film.
What do you love about the film?
It is so imaginative and creative. It really set the standard for space opera that is still copied to this day in films. The unique sound score by Louis and Bebe Barron is still a one of a kind soundtrack and so innovative. The MGM brand is apparent in every scene of this film and it shows. Truly an A feature at a time when that was not always the case with a science fiction movie. It is also a much more cerebral movie with its “monster” from the subconcious mind being a first for the movies; a Freudian concept that was much ahead of its time. And it is just simply fun to look at, the imagery is so amazing and they really succeed in creating another world all done inside the MGM studios and not one scene takes place in the “real world.” It was all shot on a soundstage is most convincing.
What keeps you going year after year with these types of events?
The support of the public that sells out our events and the support of great sponsors like Jerry Gress, Rotella’s Bakery, Security National Bank, Tigerpaw Software, and many others. And, of course, the media and press. It makes it all worthwhile. Being able to help local charitable organizations like the Nebraska Kidney Association and The Omaha Parks Foundation and several others I have worked with over the years, to see them get more visibility in the community, as well as raise some money for them and preserve our film history, all adds to the satisfaction of doing them.
Forbidden Planet with Special Guest Robert Dix, October 23, at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St., 7 p.m. Tickets are $24. Visit www.omahafilmevent.com for more information.