Gog 3D Blu-ray Review

Golden Age 3D adventure rejoins the living 3.5 Stars

Rampaging robots and a sinister saboteur keep things hopping in the Golden Age 3D adventure Gog. Produced by the renowned Ivan Tors and brought back from near-oblivion by the 3-D Film Archive, Gog may not be tops in drama or action, but it’s a fun sci-fi adventure tale that can now take its place with the other classic 1950s 3D efforts which are slowly but surely returning to the hearts and minds of fans who appreciate them.

Gog (1954)
Released: 01 Jun 1954
Rated: APPROVED
Runtime: 85 min
Director: Herbert L. Strock
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance
Cast: Richard Egan, Constance Dowling, Herbert Marshall, John Wengraf
Writer(s): Tom Taggart (screenplay), Richard G. Taylor (additional dialogue), Ivan Tors (story)
Plot: A security agent investigates sabotage and murder at a secret underground laboratory, home of two experimental robots.
IMDB rating: 5.6
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: None
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 25 Min.
Package Includes: 3D Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 03/01/2016
MSRP: $24.99

The Production: 3/5

Rampaging robots and a sinister saboteur keep things hopping in the Golden Age 3D adventure Gog. Produced by the renowned Ivan Tors and brought back from near-oblivion by the 3-D Film Archive, Gog may not be tops in drama or action, but it’s a fun sci-fi adventure tale that can now take its place with the other classic 1950s 3D efforts which are slowly but surely returning to the hearts and minds of fans who appreciate them.

After a series of mysterious deaths occur at the Office of Space Investigation, the government sends Dr. David Sheppard (Richard Egan) to investigate. Head of the agency Dr. Van Ness (Herbert Marshall) is utterly baffled by the murders, but he sends his assistant Joanna Merritt (Constance Dowling), who also happens to be Dr. Sheppard’s sweetheart on the down low, off with Dr. Sheppard to tour the facility to see if they can arrive at some answers. Sheppard is impressed by the various experiments he sees: numerous testing being done with antigravity, sound waves, body freezing, centrifugal force, and even artificial intelligence plus demonstrations with two robots GOG and MAGOG that can carry out complicated instructions without error. But the murders keep happening, and it’s only the discovery of some mysterious radio receivers that put Sheppard and Van Ness on the road to the discovery of the underground facility’s dastardly saboteur.

The screenplay by Tom Taggart is very talky in the early going, and the film seems very top heavy with exposition in explaining all of the science behind the myriad experiments we watch being carried out throughout the film’s first half (according to the commentary, something insisted upon by the movie’s producer Ivan Tors who was a science junkie; ironically much of what the film presents as science fiction is now science fact). But as the saboteur continues to cause things to go awry, the action heats up as our heroes battle disasters-in-the-making on several fronts. While the film’s relatively low budget is painfully obvious in places (GOG and its sibling are no match for MGM’s Robbie the Robot who would come along two years later), the solution of the mystery of the saboteur’s identity is rather novel and not at all what one might expect it to be judging from the cast of suspects in this underground operation. What’s more, the 3D is used effectively throughout, and some stock jet fighter footage is used nicely to enhance the film’s climactic face-off between the humans and the robots.

With two pros like Herbert Marshall and Richard Egan handling the majority of the serious acting in this piece, the lesser talents of some of the other players like leading lady Constance Dowling, computer expert John Wengraf playing Dr. Zeitman, or Marian Richman’s Helen aren’t exposed quite so cruelly. It’s always great to see familiar faces like Philip Van Zandt as key scientist Dr. Elzevir and Steve Roberts as head of security Major Howard have some quality scenes to act, and David Alpert as radiation expert Peter Burden and Michael Fox as the first victim Dr. Hubertus also add greatly to the film’s effectiveness. The young William Schallert as the assistant to Wengraf’s Dr. Zeitman also gets a moment or two to shine.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: 4.5/5

The film is framed in its intended theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the MVC/AVC codec. Brilliantly brought back to explosively colorful life by 3-D Film Archivists Greg Kintz and Bob Furmanek, the transfer is wonderfully sharp and clear with much detail in facial features especially. The color is breathtaking when one examines the meager materials the team had to work with. Reds, oranges, and greens look particularly impressive and are beautifully balanced in the left and right eye frames while skin tones are lusciously appealing. Contrast has also been consistently applied to make for a near-perfect picture. Only some random dust specks flick by occasionally to remind us of the age and dire condition the original film must have been in at the start of the project. The movie has been divided into 10 chapters.

The 3D is tremendously entertaining. Along with the expected depth generated by the Natural Vision 3D photography, director Herbert L. Strock (who incidentally couldn’t see 3D himself and relied on his cinematographer to keep him honest) creates the interesting frame compositions with objects on different planes that maintain visual interest throughout, and the few forward projections (a hypodermic needle injection, a screwdriver, GOG’s robotic arm) make for amusing visual tricks. When the stock flat footage of jet fighters intrudes into the wonderful world of 3D late in the movie, it’s a shock to the system! Surely that’s a true sign that 3D has really worked its magic on the viewer.

Audio: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack offers an era-typical mono track with solidly recorded dialogue, the delightful Harry Sukman background score, and the atmospheric effects mixed in a deft blending where not one element overpowers the others. Age-related problems with hiss, crackle, pops, and flutter have been dexterously handled with no after effects.

Special Features: 3.5/5

Audio Commentary: film historian Tom Weaver contributes a very well researched discussion of the making of the film with lots of details about Ivan Tors and his film and television career along with the other members of the cast and crew who merit attention. He’s assisted twice by separate discussions about the film’s 3D history (by Bob Furmanek) and its composer Harry Sukman (by music expert David Schecter) making for a very full and complete commentary track.

Restoration Featurette (6:49, HD): 3-D Film Archivists Bob Furmanek and Greg Kintz display the original materials they had to work with in discussing their efforts to bring the 3D version of the film back to viable life.

Herbert L. Strock Interview (8:26, SD): the film’s director-film editor reminisces about the making of the film in this 2003 interview.

Lothrop Worth Interview (19:02, SD): the co-creator of Natural Vision 3D and the film’s cinematographer talks about his career and his first three major 3D films shot with Natural Vision.

Theatrical Trailer Gallery (HD): trailers for Gog (1:51), The Mask (2:47), The Bubble (1:41), and a reissue trailer for The Bubble (1:12).

Overall: 3.5/5

Gog is a fun package of vintage 3D entertainment, and those so equipped are encouraged to give it a try. Even in 2D, the film looks beautiful and offers Saturday morning-style thrills for the young at heart.

Published by

Matt Hough

author,editor

13 Comments

  1. Well GOG (1954) has certainly been well covered in this particular discussion forum but from the standpoint of the early 1950s it is interesting to (nostalgically) observe the preparation and speculative conception of the technical requirements mandated for Space travel.

    The hazardous parabolic mirror-like device depicted is somewhat dated with the latter advent of the more sophisticated laser beam (in 1960) but overall as an elementary primer for things to come GOG (1954) like all of Mr. Tors' SF-premised works (including SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE) are always worthwhile and (highly) entertaining viewing indeed.

    Ivan Tors (very much like his contemporary and fellow Hungarian countryman George Pal) did not view these films as fiction in the slightest and the emphasis was always on "practical" science extending the boundaries of current knowledge into its achievably furthest frontiers.

    Ironically those of us living in the 21st Century are the future that was imagined back in the 1950s.

    Jeff T.

    🙂

  2. Just last week bought a Epson 6040 and a Sammy K8500 and just watched this…boy, was it flat. No 3D depth. I ran 8 3Ders before and after and they all looked great.

    Was there a problem with this one bringing it to BD?

  3. Yeah, my GOG BD has plenty of outstanding 3D depth. You might have received a defective disc, John (it happened to me with My Bloody Valentine) — or you might want to re-check that you didn't miss a step in playback.

    I'm so happy with GOG that I watched it again yesterday for the 5th time in as many months of owning it.

    A*P*E, on the other hand, I could barely get thru once….

  4. John Sparks

    Just last week bought a Epson 6040 and a Sammy K8500 and just watched this…boy, was it flat. No 3D depth. I ran 8 3Ders before and after and they all looked great.

    Was there a problem with this one bringing it to BD?

    As you can see from my review, I was very impressed with the 3d depth, separations, and pop-out (and that was viewing it on an active plasma set; I suspect the passive 3D that I have now would be even more impressive), so I suspect something is wrong with your set-up. Either the set isn't getting the 3D signal and it's opting to show the 2D instead, or your player is having trouble transmitting the 3D images.

  5. Well, I just played it in the den using Passive glasses and it looks GREAT! But flat in the HT with Active glasses.

    Remember, I played 8 3Ders before and after and they all played great.

    When it plays, the projector says it's in 3D, but it looks flat.

    I'll try it again tomorrow and I hope I have better luck with it…or back to Amazon it goes!!!

  6. Such a great shame KINO opted to make this Region A only playable unlike its other offerings quite disappointing and I guess that's why the price is dropping. For a fairly narrow 3D market place I believe this may be quite a mistake to make.
    Received my disc and suppose I can enjoy looking at the box and keep wondering what the 3D actually looked like 🙁

  7. 3D Projectionist

    Such a great shame KINO opted to make this Region A only playable unlike its other offerings quite disappointing and I guess that's why the price is dropping. For a fairly narrow 3D market place I believe this may be quite a mistake to make.
    Received my disc and suppose I can enjoy looking at the box and keep wondering what the 3D actually looked like 🙁

    If it's region-locked, it's because of a contractual deal with the studio that Kino licensed it from; in the case of Gog, that's MGM.

  8. I hate to tell people to buy new equipment because it doesn't necessarily seem fair that the people who love films the most should have to pay extra on everything, but if you're a fan of 3D at home (and classic film in general, for that matter), I can't recommend a region-free player highly enough. As different studios in different territories begin reducing or eliminating their support for 3D, it's going to be necessary to import titles from a variety of places while they're still available. It's the same for a lot of classic 2D films, with some titles getting releases in some regions, and other films coming out in different ones.

    The vast majority of titles in my collection are from the region I live in, but some of the most "important" discs have been imported from other regions out of necessity.

    There are good region-free modded players that can be had for far less than what an Oppo costs, and well worth looking into, in my opinion. It sucks to have to shell out for that extra expense, but the results are worth it.

  9. And finally got to see my 3D BR of GOG up on the big screen, my goodness it was superb and with so much great work done restoring it from the film materials available. The 3D Film Archive have done great work here and deserve much congratulating, so very well done one and all. We watched the interviews a couple of times on the disc and they really do show the dedication and enthusiasm to make this resto happen and they did.

    At the end of our GOG evening we asked the question, where is robot GOG now, fingers crossed he survives?

    When I watch these gems from 3D's golden years I realise what a privilege it is to see them particularly looking and sounding so good. Its pretty obvious the Blu-Ray restored 3D issues are probably far superior to many a cinema screening back in the day and a real joy to see again and again.

    Thank you 3D Film Archive for the continuing excellent work you undertake, its very much appreciated over this side of the pond.

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