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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sci Fi Trifles: After Worlds Collide and Other Unrealized Projects of George Pal

George Pal is well known by science fiction fans as the producer (and sometimes director) of such important genre films as Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), War of the Worlds (1953), and The Time Machine (1960) and he was very much the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg of his day.  But of all the notable science fiction and fantasy films that he worked on, did you know about his planned sequel to When Worlds Collide and several of the other intriguing projects that he started on but that never saw the light of day?

When Worlds Collide, released in 1951 and based on the 1933 novel of the same name by Philip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer, was a box office success when it hit theaters and has since become recognized as an important early science fiction movie.  In the mid-50’s Pal considered revisiting the story by adapting the 1934 sequel to the original novel After Worlds Collide (written by the same authors).  This story followed the fates of the survivors who ventured to the planet Bronson Beta after Earth was destroyed by the collision with Bronson Alpha (and we find that other countries had successfully launched arks to this new planet as well).  Plans for the film came to a halt, though, after Pal’s 1955 Conquest of Space bombed in the theaters.  It would be half a decade before Pal would work on a science fiction movie again, and that would be the less sfx-laden (but still brilliant) The Time Machine.

That latter movie is another one that Pal would revisit when he began work in the mid-70’s on a sequel film to be titled The Time Travelers.  The film itself never happened, but he did co-author a novel (with Joe Morhaim) titled Time Machine II which saw publication in 1981.  Pal’s much-reviled 1975 Doc Savage was another of his film’s that he had sequel plans for with a film to be titled Doc Savage: The Arch Enemy of Evil.  The script for this movie (loosely based on the Doc Savage novel Death in Silver) was actually written before the one that would become The Man in Bronze movie, but he went with the latter story because he felt it gave more background to the characters.  Arch Enemy of Evil was intended to serve as a sequel and was allegedly filmed simultaneously, but since Man of Bronze bombed at the Box Office, the second movie was never completed.  Pal had also written the script for a pilot to a potential Doc Savage TV series based on the book The Secret in the Sky, but that was also cut short due to the failure of the big screen movie.

Other science fiction/fantasy movies that George Pal considered at various points in his career included Odd John (based on the 1935 Olaf Stapledon book), Logan’s Run, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  And in the mid-70’s, Pal proposed a War of the Worlds television series that would have been a continuation from his 1953 movie (and would have apparently ventured into space opera territory, more on that at this link).  A series did eventually materialize in 1988 in a very different format (and without his involvement), but it would have been very interesting to see how Pal would have progressed with this one and some of the other unrealized projects on his list.  He passed away in 1980 after a celebrated career in filmmaking and is still considered an important innovator in the science fiction and fantasy genres.  

Source: Wikipedia

Related Link: Must-Watch Sci Fi Movies - Destination Moon

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