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October 24, 2011

The Space Age Look of Forbidden Planet

By RetroRuth

So, I discovered a few things while watching the classic movie, Forbidden Planet, the other night:

1) The costumes and sets are deliciously space age/atomic.

2) The young Leslie Nielson was also surprisingly delicious.


See? He even makes talking into a ridiculous space-microphone look good.  Or maybe he is making the uniforms designed by Walter Plunckett look good. Either way,  it’s gold.

If you have never seen this great 1956 film, you should go out and do it! Now! The sets are awesome. I kept simultaneously pointing at the screen and punching Tom’s arm for pretty much the entire movie.

Dining Area

And, really. Can you blame me?

Alien Lab 2

The sets were designed for this film by Cedric Gibbons and Arthur Longeran. The whole film was shot indoors on sets with painted backdrops and elaborately designed props. And they range from the “space age” look:

Spaceship Interior

The Alien Lab



To a more atomic home setting, which is the Doctor’s home on an alien planet in the film.


I LOVE the chartreuse/pink and gold combo. It’s fantastic!

The Doctors Table

Behind these dapper and heroic space stallions you can see the pink sofa set with connecting side tables.

Sofa Fabric

The sofa upholstery is shot through with a prominent metallic thread that made them so shiny. In fact, I was so in love with them, it was a little hard to concentrate on the dramatic dialogue.

Living Room

In this wider shot you can see the connecting side tables and matching coffee table.

The Doctors House

The Doctor’s house itself was interesting, since the house was portrayed as having few solid walls, and was mostly just glass and steel.  Here it is, in all it’s painted backdrop glory.

Fish Sculpture

It also had quite a few nice brutalist-type sculptures, like this little fish guy.


And some nice light fixtures, like this desk lamp in the Doctor’s study.

Sputnik and Black Dress

And the sputnik lights! There were two of them, and they were positioned on the wall like sconces over some metallic wallpaper.

Living Room 3

Love. It.

Gold Dress

Overall a great classic movie, both in terms of story (it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest), sets and filming. Check it out! Your little mid-century-loving hearts won’t be disappointed.

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10 Responses to The Space Age Look of Forbidden Planet

  1. Becky Reply

    October 24, 2011 at 8:24 am

    That is my husband’s favorite old movie, and I admit I have never watched it from beginning to end. Seeing those sets, I guess now I have to! : )

    • RetroRuth Reply

      October 24, 2011 at 9:05 am

      Go for it, Becky! You will be surprised! 🙂

  2. Sara in AZ Reply

    October 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I WANT that pink couch!!!! AND the sputniks!!!! 🙂 The movie looks awesome, we will have to check it out sometime.

  3. Rachael Reply

    October 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    That pink couch with the gold…OMG!

  4. Lorie B. Reply

    October 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    My Dad’s all time favorite film. Like Becky, though, I have never sat and watched it all the was thru. I’ll have to borrow it and watch it. Thanks for the cool post!!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      October 25, 2011 at 9:58 am

      No problem, Lori! You should total give it another watch!

  5. Louise Reply

    October 24, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Oh my goodness! I vaguely remember that movie. Is that Maverick in the top picture with Leslie Nielson?

    We probably saw that movie as reruns when we were kids. What I wouldn’t do for one of those spudniks now!!! Or that couch!!! Ann Francis’ dress is pretty cool too. Ah, I can dream…

    Thank you so much for sharing, Ruth…I’m going to like it here:)

    • RetroRuth Reply

      October 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Hi Louise!!! Glad you stopped by.

      I know, I totally love that couch AND Ann’s clothes! Heck, I just love the whole movie.

      And yes, that IS Maverick! Good eye!

  6. liza Reply

    November 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I will queue this movie, it looks fun for a Sunday afternoon. But mainly I want to tell you that I have been to the house Cedric Gibbons designed for himself in Los Angeles. The family that lived there were friends with my brother, many years ago. It was gorgeous. I got the full tour, every nook and cranny and I had the time of my life. This was back in the early nineties, and I didn’t have a camera with me. But it was so much fun and so gorgeous. Very art deco, all curvy with things fitting into other things. I particularly remember the master bath.

    Thanks for the great blog and see you around Pinterest.

  7. Pingback: SPUTNIK LAMPS • Mid Century Mobler

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