HomeReviews3-D Blu-ray Review: "Gog" (1954)

3-D Blu-ray Review: “Gog” (1954)

The 1954 American science fiction film Gog was independently produced by Ivan Tors and directed by Herbert L. Strock. It features Richard Egan, Constance Dowling, and Herbert Marshall.

Produced by Ivan Tors Productions and filmed in Natural Vision 3D, the color process is attributed to Color Corporation of America. United Artists distributed the film.

3-D Blu-ray Review Gog

The excitement for Gog has captured attention!

The restoration of the 1954 science fiction film Gog, initially shot in Natural Vision 3-D, may not seem significant at first glance.

However, it holds its importance akin to the restoration of acclaimed classics like Napoleon (1927), A Star Is Born (1954), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Regardless of a movie’s cultural or artistic value, it should be preserved and made available in a format that aligns with the filmmaker’s vision and the audience’s initial experience.

Gog is a rare and unique relic from its era and genre.

During the 1950s sci-fi era, most films targeted adult audiences, but Gog ventured into genuine science fiction, differing from the prevalent science fantasy dominating today’s sci-fi cinema and TV.

The first half of the 1950s saw a mix of big studio productions and more minor, ambitious independent films primarily aimed at adult audiences.

Despite its futuristic elements, Gog represented a rare exploration of true science fiction, distinct from the prevalent science fantasy of today’s sci-fi genre.

The film’s producer, George Pal, initially set this trend with Destination Moon (1950), striving for a realistic portrayal of a moon expedition based on the science of that time despite not immediately inspiring similar films.

Gog and the preceding Ivan Tors-produced films The Magnetic Monster (1953) and Riders to the Stars (1954) stood out as exceptions in science fiction films.

Gog, in particular, served as a precursor to a few scientifically grounded science fiction thrillers, such as The Satan Bug (1965) and The Andromeda Strain (1971), where natural and theoretical science played integral roles in the storytelling.

Despite being filmed in color, at 1.66:1 widescreen, and in 3-D, Gog suffered from bad timing.

It was released after the decline of the 3-D trend and the victory of CinemaScope’s widescreen and stereophonic sound in the “format war” of that decade.

Although it featured impressive 3-D cinematography, Gog was only shown in 3-D in a few theaters in Los Angeles, with the rest of the country viewing it in two dimensions.

Subsequently, it was sold to television, but the 16mm prints were in black-and-white. For decades, the 3-D version of Gog was presumed lost.

In 2001, Bob Furmanek, a dedicated 3-D enthusiast and historian, discovered a faded Pathé color 35mm release print of the “left eye,” which was eventually paired with less problematic correct eye film elements provided by MGM, the current owners of Gog.

This led to a meticulous restoration of Gog, culminating in its release on Kino Lober Blu-ray, showcasing the film as originally intended.

While Gog had been previously shown on television and released in various formats, this new Blu-ray presents the film as it was meant to be seen and highlights its genuine merits more distinctly.

Like The Magnetic Monster and Riders to the Stars, Gog is part of the OSI trilogy, focusing on the “Office of Scientific Investigation.”

The story follows OSI security agent David Sheppard, who is tasked with investigating a series of mysterious murders and acts of sabotage at an underground laboratory in New Mexico.

Joanna Merritt, another OSI agent, is already working undercover at the facility, and together with laboratory supervisor Dr. Van Ness, they guide Sheppard through the gadget-filled place.

The unseen operators utilize most of the gadgets to carry out the murders.

For instance, Dr. Hubertus is frozen to death in his cryo-hibernation chamber. At the same time, another scientist is nearly incinerated by her heat ray, powered by the sun’s rays via a series of mirrors.

Subsequently, the murders are linked to Gog and Magog, realistic non-anthropomorphic robots controlled by the lab’s central computer, NOVAC.

Ivan Tors is a Hungarian filmmaker known for his fact-based science fiction, marine stories, and animal-centric shows such as Science Fiction Theatre, Sea Hunt, Flipper, Gentle Ben, Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion, and Around the World Under the Sea.

His company also handled the underwater second-unit work for the James Bond film Thunderball.

Tors’s science fiction projects are often considered earnest but mild, focusing heavily on technology and realism at the expense of dramatic impact.

This is somewhat true for Gog, as it occasionally resembles a visit to a science center. However, despite a slow middle section, the film compensates with grisly opening murders and an action-packed climax.

Reportedly made for just $250,000 and shot over 15 days at Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, California, Gog is considered inexpensive compared to major studio productions.

Despite the limited budget, the film effectively utilizes the available resources to create visually engaging sets and gadgets, although occasional constraints are noticeable.

Watching Gog today reveals how many of its then-futuristic scientific concepts have since materialized, often in greatly improved and miniaturized forms beyond what was imaginable.

Equally intriguing is how Gog, despite its clunkiness, accurately foreshadows the future of cinema.

The laboratory in the film resembles the underground labs depicted in later movies like The Satan Bug and The Andromeda Strain, while Gog and Magog bear resemblance to later robot drones like Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running (1972) and R2-D2 from Star Wars.

Gog may have also been the first to introduce automatic sliding doors in a science fiction film, more than a decade before they became famous in Star Trek.

3-D Blu-ray Review Gog (1954)
Gog (1954)

The restoration of Gog is a remarkable achievement, made possible by MGM owning the film elements for the “right eye” half of the 3-D version and the 3-D Film Archive offering their left-eye elements.

The restoration process involved various technical experts and companies, with Greg Kintz facing the challenge of matching the faded left-eye print with the right-eye elements provided by MGM.

The presentation of the restored film is exemplary, featuring impressive sharpness, bright colors, and visually pleasing framing.

While the 3-D effects in Gog are less aggressive than other films, they are used consistently, excitingly, and innovatively, taking advantage of the depth modern 3-D movies often overlook.

The set design, especially in 3-D, is striking and adds to the film’s overall appeal.

The Blu-ray release is further enhanced with a Restoration Comparison, archival interviews from 2003, and an insightful audio commentary by Tom Weaver, Bob Furmanek, and David Schecter.

The commentary offers a wealth of information about the film’s restoration and score.

It’s emphasized that other rights holders of classic 3-D titles should take a cue from the Gog restoration and consider working with the 3-D Archive to preserve these movies before it’s too late.

Despite not being a widely recognized classic, Gog is deemed an ambitious film deserving of preservation, and the success of its restoration illustrates the capabilities of the 3-D Archive and its team.

3-D Blu-ray Review Gog (1954)
Gog (1954)

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Ashish Maharjan
Ashish Maharjan
Ashish, a seasoned editor and author for World Cinema Paradise, intricately weaves creativity with precision in his writing, establishing himself as a prolific content creator. Renowned for clarity and captivating storytelling, Ashish has cultivated a devoted readership, driven by his unwavering passion for words and commitment to excellence.

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