You know the type I mean? I'll surf the web, looking for general information about a past or present film or TV project, and then -- lo and behold -- I'll come across some nugget of information that either I've never heard before or just simply downright tickles my fancy. It's the kind of trivia I love to draw attention to, and I've finally figured out a means to do it here on the Main Page. Occasionally, I'll drop one of these 'Command Performance' posts, and I'm intending on using them to draw attention to new names, places, or events added to my citations. I hope you'll have as much discovering these details as I have finding them.
In any event: I've been doing some reading on the SciFi classic from MGM, Forbidden Planet (1956). It's a film that -- while I probably don't enjoy it as much as the die-hard SciFi and Fantasy enthusiasts -- I have an awful lot of respect for. Being a fan of classic cinema, I'm certainly aware of its place in film history: I just don't find it all that rewatchable as the pacing seems to seriously lag in its later half. Unlike other films wherein heroes and protagonists face certain doom, I find Planet mostly void of suspense. It's visually exciting, yes ... just not all that suspenseful. So I rarely pop it in for a rewatch.
However, in my reading this morning, I discovered something pretty fascinating that I hadn't stumbled on before (or, if I have, it just never caught traction): many of its effects crew were actually folks on loan from the Walt Disney Company! In other words, animators who had worked on Fantasia, Pinocchio, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea were front and center in shaping the look of Forbidden Planet.
In one respect, that shouldn't come as any great surprise, namely because Walt Disney was the 'go-to' choice for effects animation of that era. Still, I didn't realize that many of these contributions went uncredited by these artists -- many of them fairly young in their careers -- when that kind of industry recognition could've gone a long way toward making them well known as special effects pioneers. I'm guessing MGM studio heads probably wanted that attention on the heads of their own workers, so it is what it is.
Two names I came across this morning were Joshua Meador and Ken Hultgren.
I'm still digesting some of the details involving Meador (there's more available on him than on his teammate), so I'll leave that stuff for another day.
But from what I've read, Hultgren was chiefly responsible for conceiving the look of the film's central antagonist -- the hideous Id Monster which features so strongly into what tension there is aboard Forbidden Planet. While Meador's work I had known about (again, more available on the artist, so I had some familiarity with it), I was completely unaware of Hultgren's, and that's a shame. The Id Monster -- and the totality of Forbidden Planet -- still echoes throughout major cinematic influences today ... and I guess -- coming from this whole idea as one who'd like to be given a bit of credit for the little things I've done in life -- I can't imagine how an animator who truly set the bar so high for SciFi might feel about being overlooked in history.
Though Meador is largely recognized for animating the sequence involving the Id's reveal, it looks like Hultgren is responsible for conceiving the look of the beast. And what a beast it was!
From what IMDB.com shows, Hultgren lasted only a thin fifty-three years in this existence, but he managed to squeeze in a strong career with work in Sleeping Beauty, 1001 Arabian Nights, the 1960 run of Popeye The Sailor, 1967's animated Journey To The Center Of The Earth program, and 1967's The Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure.
So there you have it: Ken Hultgren is SciFiHistory.Net's very first Command Performance. I think he earned it.