Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Herbert L. Strock|
|Produced by||Ivan Tors|
|Written by||Tom Taggart (screenplay)
Ivan Tors (story)
Richard G. Taylor (dialogue)
|Music by||Harry Sukman|
|Cinematography||Lothrop B. Worth|
|Edited by||Herbert L. Strock|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Gog is a 1954 science fiction film directed by Herbert L. Strock and released in 1954 by United Artists. It is notable for having been shot in color, widescreen and 3-D. It stars Richard Egan, Constance Dowling, and Herbert Marshall.
Unaccountable, deadly malfunctions begin occurring at a top-secret government facility under the New Mexico desert where a space station is being constructed. Agents from the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) in Washington, D.C. are called in to investigate.
Laboratory supervisor Dr. Van Ness calls in Dr. David Sheppard, an OSI security agent, to find the cause of the mysterious deaths. Working with Joanna Merritt, another OSI agent already at the facility, Sheppard determines that the deaths among the laboratory's 150 top scientists are due to deliberate sabotage of NOVAC (Nuclear Operative Variable Automatic Computer), a central computer that controls all equipment in the underground facility.
However, it is harder to determine how the sabotage is being done. The unseen enemy strikes again and again, snuffing out the lives of five scientists and two human test subjects in quick succession, as well as Major Howard, the complex's Chief of Security. In addition, both Madame Elzevir (solar engineering scientist) and Dr. Peter Burden (chief atomic engineer) are attacked, but manage to survive, although they are both injured.
Eventually, Sheppard determines that a powerful radio transmitter and receiver were secretly built into NOVAC during its construction. An enemy robot plane, whose fiberglass body does not register on radar, has been flying overhead, beaming precisely focused, ultra-high frequency radio signals, thereby controlling NOVAC's every function. The computer, in turn, controls Gog and Magog — two mobile robots with powerful gripping tools and other implements.
Magog is finally directed to go to the complex's nuclear reactor room and pull the safety rod out of the atomic pile, starting a chain reaction that will soon build to a nuclear explosion, which will destroy the entire facility. Sheppard arrives in time to push the safety rod back into the pile, stopping the chain reaction. He then attacks the robot with a flame thrower and disables it, but Gog soon follows its twin to the reactor room to finish the job. Sheppard's flame thrower runs out of fuel as the robot advances on him. Dr. Van Ness arrives with another flame thrower, but the control valve sticks, and Gog now turns on him. Sheppard desperately begins using the nozzle of his flame thrower as a bludgeon, trying to smash the robot's electronic tubes. The now-crippled robot begins spinning back and forth, its arms thrashing about wildly. At that point, Gog suddenly comes to a halt, its metal arms falling limply to its sides. American F-86 and F-94 jet fighters have found and destroyed the enemy plane, ending NOVAC's reign of destruction. Van Ness then realizes that Sheppard and Merritt have been exposed to an overdose of radiation from the reactor, and Sheppard takes Merritt into his arms and they head for the complex hospital, where it is determined that their exposure, while causing their film badges to turn red, is not serious, and that they will soon recover.
A few days later, Dr. Van Ness explains the situation to the Secretary of Defense, and informs him that a working model of the space station is about to be launched into orbit. The new station will be equipped with telescopes and television cameras that will spot any further attempts to sabotage the complex in this fashion. The Secretary observes with satisfaction, "Nothing will take us by surprise again!" The film concludes with the successful launch of the rocket containing the working model from the complex.
- Richard Egan as David Sheppard
- Constance Dowling as Joanna Merritt
- Herbert Marshall as Dr. Van Ness
- John Wengraf as Dr. Zeitman
- Phillip Van Zandt as Dr. Pierre Elzevir
- Valerie Vernon as Madame Elzevir
- Steve Roberts as Major Howard
- Byron Kane as Dr. Carter
- David Alpert as Dr. Peter Burden
- Michael Fox as Dr. Hubertus
- William Schallert as Dr. Engle
- Marian Richman as Helen
Gog was shot on two sets at Hal Roach Studios, with exteriors done at George Air Force Base, a former Air Force base near Victorville, California. It took just 15 days to shoot all of the footage needed, and the film's final cost was estimated at a quarter of a million dollars.
Shortly after filming of Gog was completed, Constance Dowling married Ivan Tors and retired from acting. Another star of the film , William Schallert, made a debut in the sci-fi genre with this film: he later did other movies from sci-fi to comedies and dramas. He also did TV shows including the TV series Gidget.
Although shot in 3-D, Gog was released at the tail end of the 3-D fad of 1953–1954 and was, therefore, shown "flat" in most venues, despite being available in its stereoscopic format. Gog was also filmed in flat wide-screen at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which had become standard among United States studios the year before.
Critical response ranged from "good" to "very good" in general. The film was previewed for the press at United Artists' screening room in 3-D.
Critical response was generally positive, with many critics noting the story's basis in science fact, rather than science fantasy. This was a staple of Tors' science-fiction films. His 1955 television series, Science Fiction Theatre, had the same verisimilitude, and often lifted props and situations from Gog and the other OSI films.
Motion Picture Herald’s William R. Weaver said of Gog, "The production moves steadily forward, keeping interest growing at a steady pace, and exciting the imagination without overstraining credulity."
- William R. Weaver: "Review (Gog)", Motion Picture Herald, Product Digest Section, June 12, 1954, Page 26