Saturn 3 (1980) – Stanley Donen, and John Barry

Gorgeous set and production design can’t save a film with a number of top drawer stars (Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett, and Harvey Keitel) thanks to a heavily edited final cut, and flawed story. Not to mention some miniature and model work that may have worked in the 50s but looks incredibly bad in the 80s, and even worse today.

I was introduced to this film, probably by mistake at a young age. It was one of those weekends in the early 80s when everyone was renting and experimenting with a couple of the new available home entertainment units, we would occasionally rent a tape player or a video disc player. And on one of these weekends (when I wasn’t allowed to go pick one of the titles, cause I always seemed to picked Star Wars (again!)), my parents must have asked for a science fiction or space movie for their kids, or maybe they thought I would like it because it had a strange looking robot on the cover.

And even as a kid, watching the opening model work with the ships and the base, and space travel, I could tell what and how they’d done things, and I was pretty bored with it in the first half hour (even seeing Farrah Fawcett naked, when I was young and impressionable couldn’t hold my attention).

Adam (Douglas) and Alex (Fawcett) are working on the third moon of Saturn, hence the film’s name, and a very unstable technocrat, Benson (Keitel, with a voice dub by Roy Dotrice because New York accents don’t exist in space) who commits murder before he arrives, something that isn’t really touched on again throughout the film, nor investigated by higher-ups, arrives and assembles an eight foot robot with a tiny head named Hector to help.

But Benson’s instabilities, including a lust for Alex and a hatred for Adam are transmitted via direct input to Hector, so the supposed farming scientists have not only one problem, but two, and a whole load of other issues about younger women and much older men.

Neither Alex nor Adam care for their visitors, but Adam jumps to the idea of murdering them pretty quick, there’s no real build up to it, or justification, until later of course when Hector is completely screwed up.

There’s probably the potential for a good, possibly great, film somewhere in the making of the film, instead it doesn’t accomplish much of anything, and running just short of an hour and a half there’s no real character development (Alex suffers dreadfully from this) and the story feels like its been slaughtered as much as some of the characters.

Still, it was interesting to watch this one, and see if I agreed still with my younger self. The answer, boy and how!

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