Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), directed by Joseph Sargent.


Don't personalize it. The next step is deification.

In this cybernetic revolt plot, an impregnable proto-Skynet computer is given control over the nation's nuclear arsenal and all defenses. It immediately begins exhibiting unforeseen capabilities, and its inventor tells the President: "It's built infinitely better than we thought!"

Great. It has become conscious and has plans of its own. How do you subvert a superior intelligence that holds all the weapons?

This is geekishly exciting and nicely tense, with a memorably downbeat finish. It gives an early glimpse of Surveillance State worries. The usual 1960s anti-computer ploys ("let's overload its circuits!") aren't working for them and they have to get sneaky. Ironically, one of their weapons is primitive male sexuality: Forbin convinces Colossus he needs a woman -- and privacy -- four nights a week.

The computer effects -- all those mechanical switches and readouts -- are in some ways dated but in other aspects still futuristic.

Many familiar faces, including:

For many years I thought this was made for TV because I had seen it only in cropped 1.33 format. The proper scope ratio makes it seem like a larger, more expensive film.

Edith Head costumes. Interesting score. The voice of Colossus is by famous voice actor Paul Frees, but is so electronically distorted I don't think anyone would know.

My thumbnails are from the imported PAL DVD. The North American edition is cropped to 1.33, which is a shame for 2.35 film. The director provides an intermittent commentary track.