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The Colossus of New York (1958) - Blu-ray Review

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The Colossus of New York - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

It’s about a maladjusted robot.  He wears clunky footwear, a slick cape, and burns people alive with lasers.  And it’s damn near brilliant.  You see, the brain inside the robot used to belong to a Nobel Prize winning scientist and, well, I’m getting ahead of myself aren’t I?  Obviously, the geek inside of me is ecstatic that Olive Films is releasing a spanking brand new print of The Colossus of New York in High Definition.  And you – yes, you – should be excited about it, too.

Let’s back up a bit.

Originally filmed for a penny-pinching Paramount Pictures, The Colossus of New York has survived the test of time with a little help from the genius behind It Came From Outer Space, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, and The Deadly Mantis.  That man is William Alland and he excelled at striking the right chords with B-movies and audiences alike – recently primed for the burgeoning world of Science Fiction thanks to the Roswell Crash and microwaves - with motion pictures that could startle big time on a dime-sized budget.

The Colossus of New York takes its large robotic hands and Hulk-smashes The Golem with Frankenstein and gives us the precursor to Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands.  Seriously.  Directed by Eugène Lourié (The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), the picture is a remarkable Titan of the science fiction community with its concerns over automation and the fate of the human race at the hands of technology.  Both puzzling and completely fascinating with its fairy tale approach to some hard hitting human/robot issues, Lourié’s picture is a delight to rediscover.

Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin) has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in Botany.  That fact alone won’t stop oncoming traffic, though.  In front of his entire family – including his young son Billy (Charles Herbert) – Jeremy is mowed down by a truck and killed almost immediately.  Jeremy’s father (Otto Kruger), a brilliant surgeon, requests his son’s body be delivered immediately to his lab.

Yes, lab.

With the almost unwilling help from his other son (John Baragrey), William is able to remove his dead son’s brain and transplant it into a giant, but cold robotic body.  Slowly, the robot begins to speak and understand and, while wrestling with his isolation and knowledge of his death, he begins to develop powers of mind control and, eventually, takes his anger out against his wife (Mala Powers) and friend (Robert Hutton) at the United Nations.  Humans be damned.

It’s a slight variation on the theme found in Frankenstein.  Instead of being pissed because he has been abandoned by his creator, this robot becomes angry because he cannot connect with the life he once knew and is frustrated by his creator’s lies and half-truths.  His anger manifests itself with mind control abilities and in steely death rays shooting out from within his robotic eyes that simply make people disappear.  Be gone, United Nations.  Be gone.

The Colossus of New York is big slice of science fiction mood and history and, while it takes itself a bit too seriously at times, rises above the droll with fantastic set pieces and a futuristic robotic design that – more than a little bit – resembles Robocop.  Yes, the monster movie mentality is there and, with its unwillingness to die or let the robot live beyond a mere 75 minutes, reduces the robot to nothing more than a towering malfunctioning war machine by the end of the picture.

Did you hear that?  A war machine … in the United Nations … killing people … a war machine that was once a man … a man honored for his achievements in science with … with … the Nobel Peace Prize …

And for that reason, The Colossus of New York will continue to tower over the test of time.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Colossus of New York - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
Director
: Eugène Lourié
Writer: Thelma Schnee
Cast: John Baragrey; Mala Powers; Otto Kruger; Robert Hutton; Ross Martin
Genre: Sci-fi
Tagline:
Towering above the skyline ~ an indestructible creature whose eyes rain death and destruction!
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's inhuman"
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 1958
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 19, 2012

Synopsis: Jeremy Spensser, genius humanitarian, is killed in an accident just after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. His father William, a brilliant brain surgeon, works on the body in secret before burial; later revealing to his other son Henry that he has the brain on life support and hopes to encase it in a robot body! The resulting being is large, strong, and develops many strange powers. Initially it has Jeremy's gentle personality but this, too, begins to change, and a year later it decides to end its long seclusion... Unusual piano music score.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Colossus of New York - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie
 
Blu-ray Disc
4 stars
 
2 stars
     
Blu-ray Experience
3 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 19, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Playback: Region A Reviewed

If you really want to see oil or blood swell up in the robot’s eyes as the film closes, you need to purchase the blu-ray.  I’ve seen this movie a handful of times and never noticed the eyes actually “bleed” before.  If that’s not a testament to the power of 1080p and what details it can bring out in older films then I don’t know what is.  The picture is in black and white and, as is to be expected, the blacks are crisper and the white tones are clearer.  Details in fabric and faces are more noticeable and – for the really obsessed fan out there – the actual robot suit is peppered with nice details never noticed before.  The sound – presented here with a sharp DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track – won’t blow your mind, but – for the era – is adequate.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

None, as is the case with Olive Films.

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