It blasted into my childhood with the force of a supernova. Science fiction film. There was my first love, Rod Taylor in "The Time Machine," "Them," with its crawling gigantic ants, and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" where a man called Carpenter was more than a man -- he had come from a distant world to save the Earth.
Always, there was "Forbidden Planet." The 1956 MGM film starred the legendary Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Edward Morbius; Anne Francis as his daughter, Altaira; a robotic wonder to covet, Robby; and a charming and managerial space commander, J.J. Adams, played by a young Canadian, Leslie Nielsen.
Nielsen made the film work in so many ways. He was believable.
I suppose I watch this film at least two or three times a year. Maybe more. Each time with a new appreciation for the design of it, or the music, or the fascination with the film's ultimate message, that even the most gifted of civilizations is not immune from the disease called overconfidence. Now when I watch, I'll admit to giggling when Adams pulls out his communicator to talk to crewmen in the ship and there is a wire attached to it. I did not laugh as a 10-year-old. Then I was ready to hitch a ride on the United Planet Cruiser C57D in a stellar moment. Ready to swish my hand over a beamer that could send lead curtains flying down the windows of my space hideaway. Mesmorized by the sheer expanse of Krell technologies, the substance of my childhood in a way that other youngsters visioned Playdough and dolls. I knew if I put my mind to it that someday, I could do something just like that. I was certain of it. Take the mind-machine test and enlarge that cranium capacity. And survive like Morbius not die like the Doc.
Tonight, I see that Nielsen has died in Fort Lauderdale at age 84. He changed course in his cinematic career and let his humorous side lead him into other universes. I laughed at his Airplane role and of course, The Naked Gun series. For me, he will always be my favorite space hero, taking me along on a glorious journey through those ultimately final frontiers of space. I wish him well on this latest journey and look to see stars just a bit brighter in the sky from now on.