The Monitors (1969)

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The Monitors (1969)

Post  BoG on Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:16 pm

This was one of several satiric stabs at cinematic sci-fi in the late sixties through 1970 (such as Wild in the Streets and Gas-s-s), offering a warped gaze at our often absurd society through the prism of some alternate reality. In such stories, our society has been replaced or altered, but it's just a chance to take a gander at ourselves via a funhouse mirror. In this case, Earth has been taken over in benign fashion by aliens known as The Monitors, who are usually seen as nondescript men dressed in dark clothes and bowler hats. How this takeover happened is not shown or even explained; the aliens use small spray cans of knockout gas when they really need to, but it all seems like some sort of non-violent takeover occurred. Of course, the point is that most of humanity is malleable through such measures as propaganda, subliminal messaging and other non-violent methods. The Monitors' aim is to handle all our problems and relieve us of the burden of war, crime and other assorted negative stuff.
The main character (played by Guy Stockwell) is a freelance pilot who is one of the few who resists this alien control and dislikes the Monitors. He ends up teaming with a flighty actress (Susan Oliver), his own brother (Avery Schreiber) and a trainee (Sherry Jackson) of the aliens in joining a para-military rebellion outfit (led by Keenan Wynn and Larry Storch), but the rebellion is a bit too rightwing & violent for their tastes. It's all a bit nonsensical and hysterical, and much of the humor falls flat, but it offers a few ideas which are absent from most films of the later century. Its main drawback is that it doesn't take full advantage of the relationship between humans and Monitors, who regard the human race as violent children, to be 'taken care of' in that fashion. Ed Begley appears late in the film as the President, waiting for something in his cobwebbed office. It all ends on an anti-climactic if expected note. BoG's Score: 6 out of 10

Monitored Trivia: cameos in the film by Alan Arkin and other notables; also an early role in one scene for Peter Boyle, who became a star a year later in the film Joe (1970); Boyle was a member of The Second City comedy troupe in the sixties; The Second City produced this film.
Star Trek TOS actor alert: both female leads were in Star Trek episodes: Oliver in the first pilot The Cage (and her footage was repeated in The Menagerie parts one & two), and Jackson in What Are Little Girls Made of?
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