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Gog

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Bruce Eder
Herbert L. Strock's Gog -- or GOG, as it was originally released -- was one of a series of speculative science fiction movies released by producer Ivan Tors during the 1950's; others in the same body of work included The Magnetic Monster and Riders To The Stars. These were science fiction films that were highly restrained in their use of the genre, and mostly far heavier on the science than the fiction. Indeed, character development was kept to a minimum and the real focus was more on the speculation of how mankind, as represented by certain representative "types" of mostly government officials and scientists, would react and respond to the technological developments in their midst. In the case of Gog (as had also been true of The Magnetic Monster), Tors' and Strock's approach may have been slightly too restrained for the kiddie audience of the period, who expected their action fast and furious and their heroes and heroines colorful -- in striving for realism in the settings and the use of science (or, more properly, keeping the science fiction elements rooted in reality), most of the characters are either realistically dull, or quietly eccentric (an attribute Tors and company seem to have appropriated from Dragnet), and the movie sometimes seems almost more like a science lesson or a visit to a science exhibit than a science fiction film. So it lost some of the younger audience for the genre, but at the same time Gog appealed to older, more mature filmgoers, especially with the presence of veteran leading man Herbert Marshall, who lent this movie a level of respectability that few sci-fi films of the period possessed; and Tors scored a real coup in getting Richard Egan -- one of the movies' more popular leading men of the period -- and Constance Dowling for the other two leading roles; their presence gave adults and mainstream audiences something more than the usual B-movie casting that filled out most sci-fi films. The other major notable component of the movie's original release is that Gog was shot in 3-D and issued that way initially -- Strock is surprisingly restrained in his use of the effect, so much so that audiences accustomed to the exploitation of 3-D, with lots of objects coming right at the camera (it really only happens here near the end) would have been disappointed; on the other hand, the careful use of color in the costumes and sets -- the underground lab and the uniforms worn by everyone are color-coded -- makes this one of the more engagingly subtle 3-D releases, closer in spirit to, say, Dial M For Murder than to House of Wax, despite being in a genre much closer to the latter. Ironically, the distributors pulled the 3-D version of the movie fairly quickly -- the craze was dying at the time and too few theaters were willing to book it in that format -- and Gog went out "flat" for most of its distribution history. Then, when it was subsequently sold to television, it was in a black-and-white version, no less; few people were ever even aware that it had been shot in color (much less 3-D) until the early 1980's when it showed up that way on the small screen. And unlike the Magnetic Monster, Gog never made it onto laserdisc. [Note: In 2003, Gog was screened in 3-D at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to an enthusiastic audience, with director/editor Strock (who died two years later) in attendance to a sold-out house. Despite the positive response, MGM/UA, which owns the movie, chose not to strike new 3-D elements for a national re-release to repertory theaters.] ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
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