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Colossus: The Forbin Project (1969)

Genre ... Science-Fiction Thriller

Director ... Joseph Sargent

Cast Overview:    A bunch of people whom you may have seen on TV but don't know their names.
  Eric Braeden ..................... Dr. Charles Forbin
  Susan Clark ...................... Dr. Cleo Markham
  Gordon Pinsent ................ The President
  William Schallert .............. CIA Director Grauber
  Leonid Rostoff .................. Russian Chairman
  Georg Stanford Brown .... Dr. John F. Fisher
  Willard Sage ..................... Dr. Blake
  Alex Rodine ....................... Dr. Kuprin
  Martin E. Brooks ............... Dr. Jefferson J. Johnson
  Marion Ross ...................... Angela Fields
  Dolph Sweet ...................... Missile Commander
  Byron Morrow .................... Secretary of State
  Lew Brown (II) ................... Peterson
  Sid McCoy .......................... Secretary of Defense
  Tom Basham .................... Thomas L. Harrison
  [Source: www.imdb.com]

Synopsis:
Responding to the speed with which Soviet nuclear missiles can reach America, the President empowers Dr. Forbin to allow the artificially intelligent computer he has been building, named Colossus, to control the nation's nuclear arsenal and defense monitoring systems. Shortly after being connected, Colossus detects that the Soviets have such a computer too (named Guardian). The two computers are allowed to converse. The computers conspire, and the scientists on both sides of the iron curtain must undertake an underground resistance to the new hegemony. Do they succeed, and at what cost?

Originally rated "M" (for mature audiences) because of a scene where Forbin and Markham must pretend to be making love in order to fool Colossus, this film is currently rated "PG".

Review:
By using the name Colossus, echoing the name of a WWII era code-breaking megaproject, and by filming exterior scenes at the quirkily "mod" Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley which is nominally associated with the Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratory (for nuclear weapons research), this film pulls together elements of old-war, cold-war, and bold noir technology fears. This film reminds us of Fail Safe (1964) and 1984 with a Frankensteinian role-reversal: not only will computers make your job obsolete, they will watch and control your every move and kill everyone you know if you don't comply.

Unlike many technological sci-fi films of this era, The Forbin Project avoids jargon and excessive dialog about technical details (although it does contain a campy visual or two), making this film enjoyable by techno-geeks as well as the general viewing public. The acting is very believable, and the portrayed politics are plausible, but the cinematography could have been better. A classic of its genre, it is not as well-known as it probably should be because the studio decided to hold its release until after 2001: A Space Odyssey hit the boxoffice.

Something to think about and a little fun. What's not to like?

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