Tobor the Great (1954)


Kindly Professor Arnold Nordstrom (the excellent Taylor Holmes) and humane, no-nonsense Dr. Ralph Harrison (a lively and engaging performance by Charles Drake) create a robot called Tobor (Lew Smith in a cool metallic suit) who can feel human emotions and has superhuman strength. Tobor develops a telepathic link with Professor Nordstrom’s smart, mischievous grandson Gadge (an endearingly spunky portrayal by Billy Chapin). When Nordstrom and Gadge are kidnapped by a no-count gang of covert agents, Tobor comes to their rescue. Director Lee Sholem relates the neat story at a steady pace and does a solid job of maintaining an amiably lightweight tone throughout. This film further benefits from winningly sincere acting by a sturdy cast: Karin Booth as Nordstrom’s fetching daughter Janice, Steven Geray as the nefarious foreign spy chief, William Shallert as folksy reporter Johnson, Franz Roehn as Nordstrom’s grouchy assistant Karl, Henry Kulky as mean brute Paul, and Peter Brocco as the antsy Dr. Gustav. John L. Russell’s stark black and white cinematography and Howard Jackson’s robust, stirring score are both up to snuff. The warm relationship between Tobor and Gadge is genuinely charming and touching while the scenes of Tobor in action are very cool and exciting. But what really makes this film so special and appealing is its marvelous surplus of pure heart. A disarmingly sweet little treat.