Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Phantom Planet (1961)

The Phantom Planet is a (1961) science fiction film. Footage from the film was used in a 2010 advertising campaign for La Quinta Inns and Suites, an American hotel chain.  The lead character, astronaut Frank Chapman, played by Dean Fredericks, while traveling through space encounters a race of tiny people on a distant planet. Due to the planet's unusual atmosphere, he is shrunk to six inches in size. Before he finds the remedy to this situation, he is lured by two beautiful women and decides to help the inhabitants of the planet battle an invading race of monsters known as the Solarites.

With its good production values, good cast and even a worthy background score, this is solid '50s science fiction - that is until minute 28 when it makes a sudden left turn into downtown Schlockville, with our hero landing on a mini-planet full of 6 inch people, the cute ones in miniskirts. Rather than a disappointment, it turns this flick into a whole different kind of fun, featuring silent film star Francis X Bushman, beautiful girls including Coleen Gray and one of the funniest monsters ever. The planet-side plot involves a trial with an all-miniskirt jury, a push-pole duel to the death (almost), a space war against the dreaded "Solarites" and the aforementioned monster stumbling around papier-mache cave sets carrying an unconscious cutie. What more could you want? Don't miss this one! CAST NOTES: In spite of her good looks and acting talent (see "Nightmare Alley" costarring Tyrone Power) Coleen Gray's film career never managed to go very far. If the old studio system had survived, it might have been a different story. Francis X Bushman's acting career spanned from 1909 to 1966, during which he appeared in no less than 209 productions, usually in starring roles.

91 MIN

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