A still from this film, depicting the titular robot and a little boy, had adorned the cover of that Sci-Fi issue of “The Movie” periodical which I mentioned in my review of ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958) – and I’d always been interested in it for this reason (considering that it’s a title which is rarely discussed). Despite being produced by a major Hollywood studio, Paramount, the film is definitely a ‘B’ genre effort – made to cash-in on the sci-fi craze of the Cold War era. The makers clearly relied on such classic prototypes as THE GOLEM (1920), METROPOLIS (1927) and FRANKENSTEIN (1931) for inspiration – but, being somewhat underwritten, the plot doesn’t quite supply the necessary impetus to elicit favorable comparison with them!
Mind you, it’s fairly intriguing during the first half (surprisingly written by FATHER BROWN ’s screenwriter Thelma Schnee!) and bolstered throughout by reliable Otto Kruger’s mad scientist characterization. Besides, the design of the robot itself (fitted with the re-activated brain of Kruger’s son, a humanitarian-cum-genius prematurely killed in a road accident) is interesting and actually quite eerie…though bestowed with curiously short arms! However, the latter doesn’t have that much to do since it’s confined for the most part to Kruger’s lab! Eventually breaking free of its creator/father’s control, the robot emerges into the open and befriends his own son (who’s unaware of the machine’s true ‘identity’). Inevitably, the human feelings once inherent in its brain gradually get lost within the metallic ‘armor’ – and the scientist even kills his own elder brother (for attempting to steal his wife’s affection…though she’s also pursued by his former best friend, who’s allowed to get away with it!). Finally, having gone berserk, the robot breaks into the United Nations building (the ‘monster’ during the sci-fi heyday always seemed to vent its fury at some point on such big-city landmarks), where it’s destroyed – or, more precisely, shut off – via a convenient lever lodged in its structure by the boy himself!
The film, as I said, doesn’t quite make it into the genre’s top-rank – but, running a terse 70 minutes, emerges nonetheless to be a generally entertaining entry (and not an unintelligent one, either). That said, it’s somewhat cheapened by Van Cleave’s funereal score (which is more akin to the slapdash accompaniment one is prone to find in Public Domain editions of Silent films!). Besides, there are a number of illogicalities in the narrative which tend to stick out like a sore thumb: for instance, the robot is often seen traveling via water – but wouldn’t contact with this element cause a short circuit to begin with?; despite Kruger’s audacious claim that his son’s genius is on the same level of such world-renowned luminaries as Napoleon, Macchiavelli and Michelangelo, the young doctor’s major claim to fame seems to be merely that he had invented a way in which to fabricate food products more quickly!!; the climax is marred by a blatant continuity goof – a girl is seen on the ground in one shot, up on her feet the next and, then, once again on the ground to be pulverized by the robot’s laser beam!; as soon as the creature is gotten rid of, it’s business as usual for the folk at the United Nations – with no thought given to the many who had just lost their lives!; a similar nonchalant reaction is allotted to Kruger, who admits his responsibility for the tragic events – and, yet, isn’t held to account for his irresponsibility!