''Forbidden Planet'' on laserdisc
''Forbidden Planet'' on disc -- What we think of one of Leslie Nielsen's earliest films
Before he hit parody pay dirt as Lieut. Frank Drebin, Leslie Nielsen labored as the earnest dunderhead in dozens of ”serious” movies — all of which, post-Police Squad!, seem irresistibly funny. Take his 1956 starring debut, Forbidden Planet, newly reissued on laserdisc. As a spaceship commander determined to rescue a scientist from his telekinetic subconscious, whatever that is, Nielsen is utterly Drebinaire. He’s forever whipping out his utility-belt mike to bark commands like ”Artificial gravity off! Cut primary ! coils!” while lusting after the scientist’s sexpot daughter (Anne Francis).
On the old cassette version, Planet‘s wide-screen picture is cropped, lopping Nielsen off many shots. But MGM/UA’s new disc is letterboxed, salvaging every second of Nielsen proto-shtick. The $24.98 disc looks as sharp and almost as colorful as the $100 Criterion version issued two years ago. The new release is part of a laudable MGM/UA line of affordable discs (which includes the somewhat more serious 2001: A Space Odyssey).