Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, March 11, 2018


A brand new blu-ray edition of "Colossus: The Forbin Project" arrived during the week and I watched it yesterday afternoon. The Star Trek era colors, the electronic score, the sweeping visuals were all stunning on the new edition. It's a film I've been teaching for fifteen years but this is the first time I've watched a version that wasn't pan and scan for all but the credit sequence! With the arrival of this edition into my collection I believe Forbin is probably the film I have now purchased more than any other, as it happens, as I have owned it on a VHS tape back in the Stone Age and then purchased at least three DVD versions over the years since, as older discs were damaged or vanished as loans over the years of teaching it over and over. I do truly still love this movie, among the better singularitarian high camp staples. (The only films I may have repurchased as many copies of over the years are "Xanadu" and "Desk Set," take that for what it's worth!)

1 comment:

jimf said...

> . . .among the better singularitarian high camp staples. . .

I've always enjoyed Miss Fields' deadpan jousts with Forbin.

. . .

At the Colossus Programming Office, Forbin (played by Eric Braeden,
probably best known for his role in a daytime TV soap opera) strides around
magisterially, issuing commands like the Andre Previn of the control
room, while Miss Fields (Marion Ross, later the Mrs. Cunningham
of TV's _Happy Days_) scurries to bang them out on an IBM Selectric

FORBIN: Attention!

FIELDS: Types on the clattering Selectric.

COLOSSUS (via chugging overhead marquee): YES

Marion Ross as Miss (Angela) Fields provides some nicely understated
humor during the course of the movie. Two moments stand out -- in her
first and only bid to participate in a more meaningful way than
answering the telephone and echoing Forbin's dictated
commands to the computer on the Selectric, Miss Fields
makes an attempt to choose a diagnostic program for Colossus,
but gets shot down by the boss:

FORBIN (heading toward desk): Miss Fields.

FIELDS (carrying binder):
May I suggest, sir, that we first start with the E-15B test program.

FORBIN (taking seat): Uhh... no.

FIELDS: Having just propped the binder in front
of Forbin and indicated her choice with the eraser end
of a pencil, she lowers the pencil sharply, straightens
up, sighs, purses her lips, and looks most deliciously

FORBIN (grasping the bridge of his nose): No, let us run
the, uhh... EC-13, all right? It's two pages back.

The second delightful moment involving Miss Fields comes
when Colossus has put Forbin under surveillance by ordering
microphones and video cameras installed in his quarters (and
everywhere else in the interior and exterior vicinity of the
CPO). Miss Fields, acting on Colossus' orders, shows up at the
door of Forbin's quarters while he is still in his

FIELDS (carrying clipboard): Good morning, sir.

FORBIN: Oh, Miss Fields. Uh....

FIELDS: I'm sorry to disturb you...

FORBIN: Well, what is it?

FIELDS: Well, while you were...

FORBIN: Please, come in. Come in.

FIELDS (glancing up at Colossus' camera): Thank you.
While you were sleeping, Colossus sent your schedule for

FORBIN: Excuse me, Miss Fields. My what?

FIELDS (suppressing a smile, clearly enjoying the moment):
Your schedule, for the day. You want me to read it to you?

FORBIN: What... what time is it?

FIELDS (glancing again at the camera): Six.

FORBIN: Six o'clock?

FIELDS (reading from clipboard): Dr. Charles A. Forbin --
Schedule For Today. 0700 to 0800, exercise. 0815 to 0830, shower
and dress. 0830 to 0900, breakfast: half a grapefruit,
two eggs, three strips of bacon, two pieces of toast, one and
one half ounces of grape jelly and coffee. 0900 to 1300, begin
work creating a voice for Colossus to its exact specifications.

Marion Ross' delivery of all this is subtle comedy, particularly
her rendering of the line "You want me to read it to you?". . .


BTW, have you ever read _The Adolescence of P-1_?
Another favorite of mine.