(I criminali della galassi)

Remember how the future was going to be? The Jupiter Two launched in 1997. By 1999, Moon Base Alpha was in place. By 2001, Pan-Am Shuttles would be taking commercial passengers to big, rotating space-stations in the sky. Star Trek had us launching deep-space probes in the early 1990s, and breaking into warp by the end of the current century. Authorities as diverse as Walter Cronkite and Isaac Asimov had people working in space before the twenty-first century.

The twenty-first century! Fly your car to work! Relax in comfy yet clingy pyjama-like clothing while robot servants wait on you hand and foot! Meet George Jetson.

Kinda sucks that it didn't turn out that way, huh?

People nowadays do wear everything, including what once might have passed for pyjamas, but this is not always as attractive as the old movies and pulps made it seem. A moonbase may be feasable, but no one's stepping forward with the funds. Flying cars would be a nightmare (can we say, "sky rage"?) We do have a space station in orbit, but it's less impressive than what books about the Space Age imagined. Stanley Kubrick predicted the design of the space-shuttle fairly accurately, but commercial flights aren't happening anytime soon for the average traveller. Deep space visits may not be happening at all, ever.

Well, for the price of a bad movie, you can experience it again. Wild, Wild Planet, made in Italy in 1965, when our post-war optimism still hadn't been shattered, presents the future-- specifically, 2015-- as we used to imagine it would be. People wear pyjamas. They fly about in rockets with fins. The monorail has become the public transit of choice. We have tall, World's Fair-esque buildings on earth and rotating stations in space. We live in relative peace, under the banner of the United Democracies (play herald trumpet on a Moog synthesizer).

The movie itself isn't particularly good. The plot involves an evil scientist and a bunch of women, possibly artificial (or maybe they're aliens; I had some trouble following the dialogue), who try to create political chaos and gain world dominance by shrinking the leaders of the United Democracies (synthesizer trumpets again) to the size of "Captain Lazar" action figures. A brave space hero comes to the rescue. You get the idea.

None of this matters. You don't expect something called Wild, Wild Planet to have either intelligent plotting or great acting. You won't be disappointed. No, the look here is what counts. The space shots and cityscapes are right out of Hugo Gernsback, although they are obvious models. Close-ups involve simple sets, and location filming at all of those futuristic and brutalist buildings constructed during the 1960s. The furniture is right out of a contemporaneous Department Store, all that stuff which evoked dreams of space then and now suggests swingin' bachelor pads and lounge music.

The director even tries to create a background culture. We witness an entertainment of the Future, some weird kind of costumed dance/theatre held on a soundstage enclosed by curtains. You get the impression they hired the local Arts School students to do something "futuristic." Everywhere we go, we see circa 1963 "futuristic" TV sets. One runs an ad for a robot doll. We all knew kids of the future would have real robot toys. Of course, people drive sleek cars. They appear to have had only two, however, and the same pair of GM Futurama Rejects appear in every highway shot and car chase scene.

Apparently, the director (Antonio Margheriti aka Anthony Dawson) made a a series of films about the United Democracies (and again), though I've had no luck locating the others. He also apparently directed something called Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules. Judging from Wild, Wild Planet, this man deserves rediscovery. He's due his trash cinema cult.

Director: Antonio Margheriti

Writers: Renato Moretti, Ivan Reiner

Cast:
Tony Russel...Commander Mike Halstead
Lisa Gastoni...Lt. Connie Gomez
Massimo Serato...Mr. Nurmi
Carlo Giustini...Lt. Ken
Franco Nero...Lt. Jake
Enzo Fiermonte...General Fowler
Umberto Raho...General Paul Maitland

I wrote a variation of this review for Bad Movie Night, in another century.

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