Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970):

Machines Gone Wild, post-A Space Odyssey but still deep within the Cold War -- the computer-as-pyramid is christened Colossus, built in the Rocky Mountains and activated over the credits by electronic genius Forbin (Eric Braeden), its creator. The President, vaguely Kennedyesque Gordon Pinsent, waits outside to inaugurate this new mecha-brain, a high-tech national security system about to put "the Pentagon in mothballs," until the White House bash is interrupted by news of similar super-duper hardware in Russkie soil. Colossus hooks up with Guardian, the Soviet counterpart, and the befuddled governments are left to wait it out; the two behemoths bond over calculus and world-domination, and orders start being noisily cranked across Colossus' oversized LED display, with missiles to back them up. The scientist leaves the claustrophobia of the control room for a chat with fellow brainiac Kuprin (Kubrick?) from Russia, though outside spaces are being quickly sealed off for mankind, "I WANT FORBIN" scrolled across the Panavision widescreen -- Colossus' dictatorial commands are carried out under threats of mushroom clouds, and Braeden, its "father" and main link to the human race, is put under constant surveillance. The grayish tones and electronic chatter of Joseph Sargent's tightly TV-sized mise en scène are functional where 2001 is ornate, for it's the man rather than the machine that experiences humanization here. Under his mechanized jailer's peeper, deadpan humanoid Braeden warms his blood via a martini gag (too much vermouth, the computer warns) and nookie with comely assistant Candy Clark. (Sargent's camera placements are no less practical than Colossus' -- in the couple's awkward first date, a glass gets strategically positioned in the foreground to cloud Clark's nude torso.) "Do not personalize, the next step is deitification," warns the President, but Colossus has already settled as overlord, a metallic rattle now "the voice of control" addressing the globe; humanity lies in defiance, even if the revolt is an irrational one in the eyes of technology. Written by James Bridges. With William Schallert, Leonid Rostoff, Georg Stanford Brown, Willard Sage, Marion Ross, and Alex Rodine.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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