Saturn 3 (1980)

R | 95 mins | Science fiction, Horror | 15 February 1980

Director:

Stanley Donen

Producer:

Stanley Donen

Cinematographer:

Billy Williams

Editor:

Richard Marden

Production Designer:

Stuart Craig

Production Company:

I T C--Marble Arch
Full page view
HISTORY

       Although Saturn 3 was set to mark the feature film directorial debut of John Barry, who crafted the original story from which Martin Amis wrote the screenplay, he did not complete the movie. Barry was previously known for his work as a production designer for films such as A Clockwork Orange (1971, see entry), Star Wars (1977, see entry) and Superman (1978, see entry).
       On 7 Feb 1979, Var reported that Barry had “withdrawn” from the film, which began principal photography on 17 Jan 1979 at Shepperton Studio Centre in Middlesex, England, with a twelve-week shooting schedule. According to the 23 Jul 1980 DV, producer Stanley Donen fired Barry one week into production.
       However, Donen told the 18 Oct 1979 LAT that he came on the film as a consulting producer at Barry’s request. Donen began noticing problems immediately, attributing them to the former production designer not being accustomed to staging scenes or handling actors. He offered to be on set with Barry for moral support, but after a few days of that arrangement, Barry quit of his own accord.
       Whether he quit or was fired, Barry found more work quickly. Star Wars creator George Lucas hired him to be a second unit director for The Empire Strikes Back, which was filming at Elsetree Studios, near London, England. Two weeks into filming, however, Barry collapsed on set with a 104-degree fever and died from meningitis a few hours later, on 1 Jun 1979, at age forty-three.
       After Barry left Saturn 3, ... More Less

       Although Saturn 3 was set to mark the feature film directorial debut of John Barry, who crafted the original story from which Martin Amis wrote the screenplay, he did not complete the movie. Barry was previously known for his work as a production designer for films such as A Clockwork Orange (1971, see entry), Star Wars (1977, see entry) and Superman (1978, see entry).
       On 7 Feb 1979, Var reported that Barry had “withdrawn” from the film, which began principal photography on 17 Jan 1979 at Shepperton Studio Centre in Middlesex, England, with a twelve-week shooting schedule. According to the 23 Jul 1980 DV, producer Stanley Donen fired Barry one week into production.
       However, Donen told the 18 Oct 1979 LAT that he came on the film as a consulting producer at Barry’s request. Donen began noticing problems immediately, attributing them to the former production designer not being accustomed to staging scenes or handling actors. He offered to be on set with Barry for moral support, but after a few days of that arrangement, Barry quit of his own accord.
       Whether he quit or was fired, Barry found more work quickly. Star Wars creator George Lucas hired him to be a second unit director for The Empire Strikes Back, which was filming at Elsetree Studios, near London, England. Two weeks into filming, however, Barry collapsed on set with a 104-degree fever and died from meningitis a few hours later, on 1 Jun 1979, at age forty-three.
       After Barry left Saturn 3, Donen assumed the directing responsibilities on the $18 million project. Principal photography was completed in late Jun 1979, as reported in the 29 June 1979 DV, but production continued for several more weeks, shooting models.
       Producer Lew Grade reportedly signed actress Farrah Fawcett to Saturn 3 after showing her the script while both were on an airplane to London, according to the 18 Oct 1979 LAT. At the time, Fawcett had become a nationwide sensation thanks to a popular 1976 swimsuit poster and performing a starring role in the hit detective series Charlie’s Angels (ABC, 22 Sep 1976--24 Jun 1981). She left the television show after one season to pursue a movie career.
       After mediocre box office reception to Fawcett’s first two starring roles, Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978, see entry) and Sunburn (1979, see entry), the film’s distributor, Associated Film Distribution, opted to use a promotional campaign emphasizing the horror elements of the story rather than the cast, as reported in the 27 Jan 1980 LAT. Marketing research also showed lukewarm reception to the idea of a science-fiction thriller starring Fawcett, Kirk Douglas, and Harvey Keitel. However, the marketing campaign did include placing four-page, color advertisements made to look like editorial copy in People, Playboy, Playgirl, Omni, and Mademoiselle magazines.
       The film opened in 612 theatres nationwide on 15 Feb 1980, playing an exclusive, six-week engagement in New York City at the Ziegfeld Theatre and in Los Angeles, CA, at the Cinerama Dome, according to a 13 Feb 1980 HR notice. Reviews tended to be negative, but the film earned $3,650,000 in its first week of release, according to the 28 Feb 1980 DV.
      End credits conclude with the statement: "Made at Shepperton Studio Centre, Shepperton, Middlesex, England."
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1979.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1979.
---
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1980.
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1980.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1980
p. 3, 7-8.
Los Angeles Times
18 Oct 1979
Section G, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 1980
Section M, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1980
p. 1.
New York Times
15 Feb 1980
p. 6.
Variety
7 Feb 1979.
---
Variety
20 Feb 1980
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Lord Grade in association with Elliot Kastner presents
A Stanley Donen Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
Cam op
Focus
Stills photog
Elec gaffer
Cam op, Model unit
Focus, Model unit
Focus, Model unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Matte tech
Prop master
Construction mgr
Space equip deviser
COSTUMES
Jewellery
Ward master
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Mus mixer
Mus rec at
Barnes
Orchestrations by
SOUND
Dubbing ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Dubbing mixer
Asst dubbing mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Electronic sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff
Opt eff
Opt eff
Spec eff
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Computer graphic designs
MAKEUP
Chief makeup
Asst makeup
Miss Fawcett's makeup des
Chief hairdresser
Asst hairdresser
Miss Fawcett's hair des
PRODUCTION MISC
Continuity
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Video systems by
Natural history video plates
Petroleum test equip supplied by
STAND INS
Stunt arranger
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Saturn III
Release Date:
15 February 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 February 1980
Production Date:
17 January--late June 1979 in Shepperton, England
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25713
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At an unspecified time in the future, the Earth is overpopulated and polluted. On the third moon of Saturn, an aging scientist named Adam works on hydroponics experiments to help feed the people of Earth. He is aided by his nubile, young assistant, Alex, with whom he also shares an intimate relationship as they are the only two people in the compound. On a large spacecraft approaching Saturn, Captain James is called to the shuttle craft launch pad for immediate departure. James rushes to his locker to get his equipment when crewman Benson comes into the locker room. James has heard that Benson failed his “mental test” and was found potentially unstable, but comments he, too, would have been mentally unstable if he had known he was being assigned to Saturn 3. Without speaking, Benson fastens a safety belt around his waist and opens an emergency hatch which sucks James directly into space, killing him. Closing the hatch, Benson takes the equipment, goes to the launch pad, and departs in the shuttlecraft, while the spacecraft’s crew remain unaware than Benson has taken James’ place. Once on the moon, Adam and Alex show Benson around the Saturn Three Experimental Food Research Station, where they have been working for the past three years. Benson tells them their research is behind schedule and he is there to help. Soon after, the moon goes into “eclipse,” meaning its rotation will take them behind the planet Saturn. Because they are “shadow locked,” they will not be able to communicate with Earth for twenty-two days. When Alex tells Benson she had never been to Earth, he replies the last time he was on Earth, ... +


At an unspecified time in the future, the Earth is overpopulated and polluted. On the third moon of Saturn, an aging scientist named Adam works on hydroponics experiments to help feed the people of Earth. He is aided by his nubile, young assistant, Alex, with whom he also shares an intimate relationship as they are the only two people in the compound. On a large spacecraft approaching Saturn, Captain James is called to the shuttle craft launch pad for immediate departure. James rushes to his locker to get his equipment when crewman Benson comes into the locker room. James has heard that Benson failed his “mental test” and was found potentially unstable, but comments he, too, would have been mentally unstable if he had known he was being assigned to Saturn 3. Without speaking, Benson fastens a safety belt around his waist and opens an emergency hatch which sucks James directly into space, killing him. Closing the hatch, Benson takes the equipment, goes to the launch pad, and departs in the shuttlecraft, while the spacecraft’s crew remain unaware than Benson has taken James’ place. Once on the moon, Adam and Alex show Benson around the Saturn Three Experimental Food Research Station, where they have been working for the past three years. Benson tells them their research is behind schedule and he is there to help. Soon after, the moon goes into “eclipse,” meaning its rotation will take them behind the planet Saturn. Because they are “shadow locked,” they will not be able to communicate with Earth for twenty-two days. When Alex tells Benson she had never been to Earth, he replies the last time he was on Earth, the pollution there hurt his lungs. Nonetheless, Alex longs to know what it is like to go outside and breathe the air. Benson says he will take a blue-colored pill known as a “blue dreamer” to help him sleep and gives some to Alex for her future use. Since Alex has never heard of the drug, Benson warns her the pill also causes heightened sensory experiences. Benson asks to have sex with Alex, but she declines explaining she is exclusively with Adam. Benson says on Earth, it is considered rude to be in a monogamous sexual relationship. Later, Benson watches on the station’s monitors as Adam and Alex have sex. The next day, Benson begins assembling a robot, the first in the new “Demi-god” series, which will be furbished with actual human brain tissue. Benson reports it will take three to four weeks to complete the robot, after which time either Adam or Alex will be obsolete. Later, Adam overhears Benson again ask Alex for sex and becomes angry. He confesses to Alex that he wishes he could “flush” both Benson and his robot into space. Later, Alex and Adam take a “blue dreamer” pill and have passionate sex. About three weeks later, the robot is complete and Benson injects fluid into its brain tissue. He then introduces Alex and Adam to the eight-foot-tall robot which he has named “Hector.” When Benson instructs Hector to bring them a flask from the table, Hector accidently crushes it with his hand. Benson admits the robot needs more fine-tuning. Later, Benson connects a small radio antenna to a receptacle at the back of his neck and Hector begins replicating Benson’s every body movement. Sometime later, Hector and Adam play chess while Benson explains how he performed the “brain drain” to program the robot. Later, Benson programs Hector to fixate on Alex and dislike Adam. Benson asks Hector why he is communicating by typing rather than talking. Hector replies he is not yet ready to talk, then types in the words “murder” and “killer.” Knowing those words are about him, Benson instructs the robot to delete that information from his memory banks. Later that night, Alex hears her dog, Sally, crying, and rushes to the hydroponics laboratory, only to find Sally dead and Hector nearby. The robot grabs Alex’s hand, but she hits an alarm with the other hand, which Hector then grabs. Adam and Benson get to the laboratory, but Hector will not follow Benson’s commands. However, Hector puts Alex down when she asks him herself. Benson explains since the robot was programmed with his brain, Hector likes Alex as much as he does. Just then, Hector causes a beam to collapse on Benson and Adam then causes another beam to collapse on Hector. He rescues Benson, then locks Hector in the laboratory. On a monitor, the three observe Hector tearing apart the door, but see his power draining. When Hector goes to recharge his battery, Adam sends a strong charge of electricity which causes Hector to collapse. Adam orders Benson to dismantle Hector, but once that job is complete, the other robotic devices in the compound reassemble Hector. Meanwhile, Benson barges into Adam’s quarters, saying he is leaving and taking Alex with him. Adam grabs Benson’s neck and chokes him until he loses consciousness. However, Benson comes to quickly and hits Adam in the head. With Adam blacked out, Benson drags Alex through the compound, but Hector comes to her rescue, cutting off both of Benson’s hands. Adam comes to and plans to escape in Benson’s shuttlecraft. Adam tries to freeze Hector with liquid nitrogen, but that only slows him down momentarily. Adam sets a trap and Hector falls into a pool of water in the laboratory. As Adam and Alex rush to the shuttlecraft, Hector causes it to explode before they can get in. The two return to the compound and lock themselves in the communication room, only to hear Benson tell them that he’s come to an agreement with Hector. Since the couple thought Benson was dead, they are confused by the message, but nonetheless go to meet him, only to find that Hector is imitating the deceased captain’s voice. Adam and Alex are knocked unconscious, but awaken just as the moon comes out of the eclipse. A small spaceship with two pilots makes radio contact to check on the station. Suddenly, the couple hears their voices talking to the pilots and realizes Hector is imitating their voices as well. Satisfied they are safe, the ship says it will return in six months to check on them. The couple worries about their fate, trapped in the station with Hector. Soon, Hector gives Alex and Adam chores to perform. When Adam confronts the robot, saying he is in charge of the station, Hector refuses to obey. Holding an explosive device, Adam lunges at Hector and the two fall into the water just as the device explodes. Hector breaks into hundreds of pieces, but Adam is also killed. Shortly after, Alex takes a transport ship to Earth.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.