director Eugène Lourié
The first ever cyborg film? The Colossus of New York is 1950’s sci-fi, heaping with unintentional camp, but also brimming with oddly evocative pathos.
A genius scientist runs like an idiot in front of a truck and gets killed, taking away all his future potential contributions to human society. Oh, but no! His father saves his brain and his brother builds a giant robot body to house it. And how, a brain with no physical body and sensations is put to work on more great humanistic science. How could it go wrong?
The pathos comes in two parts. The rembodied being of the dead scientist begs for death initially, strives to be good when possible, and ultimately destroys himself. There is a second tier of melancholy in the scientist’s younger brother, definitely their father’s afterthought despite his own key smarts in robotics. For all the pulp and camp and ham-fistedness, it’s really kind of moving.
The Colossus of New York isn’t perhaps the most iconic of sci-fi/horror films from the 1950’s but it certainly deserves to be up there with its eye-catching behemoth with his glowing eyes and unusual cloak. I also liked how he crossed over into Manhattan by walking on the bottom of the East River. And I have to agree with Alice Stoehr that putting death lasers in the eyes of a humanitarian robot was a questionable engineering idea.
*** Side note: this if the first film I’ve watched from YouTube. It’s available on The Paramount Vault in a pretty nice print.