Shades of Gray. He met the woman of his dreams. Be careful what you dream! Available at Amazon now for 99 cents!
Available at Amazon now for 99 cents. Click on Shades of Gray to purchase.
She's beautiful. She's intelligent. She's probably the best thing that could possibly happen to Johnny. Only two problems: She was a cartoon and not real and he was in for a helluva lot of trouble that was real!
Available at Amazon now for 99 cents. Click on Shades of Gray to purchase.
His whole life revolved around comic books, but now he was about to meet the one comic book he can't put down and she's going to knock his socks off!
Bound to the One You Love. "A Cartoon Story." by John Pirillo. Love between a cartoon and a human? Mmmmm!
She first realized she was bound to the one she loved when she had to come to his rescue against the Sea Gnats. They were an obscure life form found only in the lowest dimensions of her world. They obscured people's view of them, much like the legendary Sirens of Johnnie's world. They lured them into their hives, and then ate them.
In their less fettered forms, they resembled giant gnats, with multiple eyes, legs and legs. They had no hands, except as illusions. They were mainly eating machine and cutting machine. Mouths to eat their victims and legs to slash them to pieces.
Johnnie had made the mistake of using his newfound powers to touch one of the older Golden Age Magazine covers in the antique book store they had been looking through for information about zombies. Why zombies? Because that was one of the few creatures that didn't need an invite to enter Johnnie's world. Too many people believed in them and thus a portal was always open for them to charge onto Earth and deal their kind of death and destruction.
The newspapers always reported them as members of cults, or serial killers. Cults reported them as demons that had been summoned by them. But the average person just got attacked and assimilated into their hordes, which had been growing by leaps and bounds since she had entered Johnnie's world.
"Hey Glow!" Johnnie slung at her.
She looked up from the book in her lap. She sat in the dark. She didn't need the light next to her, because her body threw off enough light for a hundred light bulbs when she allowed it. She squinted at him. Her eyes were tired.
"Penny for your thoughts." He told her with a smile, slipping next to her on the couch, and putting an arm around her shoulders. She snuggled into him and told him what she was thinking.
"I can't always come to your rescue."
He turned around, letting go. She felt immediately abandoned, but said nothing.
He looked at her face. "Why would you have to? I can take care of myself."
"But what if one day you don't have a comic book on you, or one that doesn't allow you to become what's needed."
"Don't you believe in fate?"
"Yes. I do. The one we make for ourselves through our freewill."
He sighed, and then slipped further away from her.
"Okay. So I don't. Then I deal with it like I always do."
He got up. She could tell he was disgusted with the turn of her conversation. But she wouldn't let go of it. She was too worried. "You could die." She blurted out.
He stopped and looked at her sadly. "Everyone dies."
"But not the way you might."
He nodded, but went outside anyway, shutting the door behind him.
She shut her eyes, thinking why she had allowed herself to become so drawn to this human. He was still a child in so many ways. He didn't even pick up his socks when he threw them on the floor. Then she grinned. Neither did she, but then, she never wore them.
The front door banged open and Johnnie ran inside. "Get ready!"
She jumped up in alarm.
He grabbed her and swung her up into the air, laughing. "Dinner!"
They took the metro downtown to the Denny's he loved. Chicken sandwiches, thick shakes and curly fries.
"Fries. They're called fries. Curly fries."
"They taste sooooo good."
"It's the salt."
"Yeah. They bury them in salt."
She frowned. He laughed and squeezed her right hand.
"Not literally, it's just that these guys have got the French fry thing down. Give the people whatever they want, but make sure it's got lots of salt or sugar, or both on it, then they'll eat anything and love it."
"That's dishonest." She said, putting her curly fry down.
"But doesn't it make you mad?"
"Sure it does, but it sure tastes good." He said, shoving a handful of fries into his mouth.
She slapped him across his left arm with her handbag.
"Okay." He set down his next handful of fries and faced her. "It's like this. I can't change the world. I'm only one person."
"You can change it one fry at a time."
"Don't eat them."
"You've got to be kidding!"
"I'm not. Stop eating them. At least one of you won't be contributing to the lies."
"But then I'd be lying to myself."
"Because I do like them...salt and sugar and all."
With those words he shoved the rest of the curly fries into his mouth.
Across from them at the counter a tall man turned around. It had a handful of fingers in its clasp and shoved them into its mouth. "You should listen to him." The zombie said with a foul grin. "They do taste good. Salt and sugar and all."
Cartoon slammed from her booth and began hammering the man with her handbag.
Johnnie rushed over and stopped her.
The man rubbed his head and got up from his stool as an alarmed waitress grabbed a phone and began to dial.
"Hey! It's Halloween. Can't you take a joke, lady?"
He marched out of Denny's, his face red with anger.
She turned to face Johnnie. He was laughing.
Then she began hitting him with her handbag.
What was a Cartoon to do with such a rascally human being like him? She hit him again.
Johnnie touched the comic book in his back pocket and his form changed into that of an angel. She gasped and fell back. He gave her an angelic look. The waitress gasped and dropped her phone. The other customers began crossing themselves.
"I'm such an angel." He said. "You really hurt my feelings."
"Ohhhh. I hate you, Johnnie!" Cartoon spouted, and then ran into his arms and they kissed.
And that's what it's like to be bound to the one you love, she thought again as she held him close, savoring his breath and his touch. You just love them no matter what...and...her thoughts grew wicked for a moment...gets ready to clobber them when they get off the train tracks.
But she didn't tell him what she was thinking as he lifted her into his arms, stepped out of Denny's, and then flapped into the air and flew her home. After all, he was her Johnnie Angel. For a time.
Story. "Hammer Man" The Comic Book Commando has never fought anything so strange. If only he could get some rest.
"Look at this, Cartoon!"
Johnnie's fairy tale princess, made of luminous light and glowing flesh, walked into the living room, her feet hammering the floor with waves of light as she crossed the wooden floor and its single large rug that hugged the furniture in the center. She was dressed to the hilt, glowing necklace, earrings of dazzling diamond moons, sparkling rings that made her hands light up and a smile that would make any teenage boy's genes go from double helix to triple in the blink of an eye.
She sat next to him on the arm of his chair, pushing her golden hair back from her eyes so she could look at what he was reading. Her golden eyes smiled. "Hammer Man. Never heard of him."
For a brief moment he hadn't either as the touch of her skin on his arm caused his neuron receptors to begin working overtime hollering, "What are you waiting for you, dolt? She loves you, you love her. What more do you need?"
"Me either." He admitted, ignoring the pleading of his body. After all he wasn't a jerk, and he didn't believe that sex solved everything. Usually it just complicated things, not made them better. His blonde hair was dropping limply across his shoulders from the shower he had gotten out of about fifteen minutes ago. A cold shower. All the way cold. And during winter time that was skin turning blue cold. "He was doing a lot of those kinds of showers lately." He sighed inwardly.
His blue eyes caught hers for a moment and the obvious love between them flamed for a moment.
He caught his breath and shifted his six foot frame slightly to accommodate the waves of hormones that threatened to overwhelm him. Again! He loved her. She lived in his apartment. Mostly. But he had never...you know. It wasn't honorable. And she would probably have turned him into a toad if he had tried. He wanted to think. Sometimes he didn't know if he was just in denial, or truly wanted the best for her, or both, or...the thoughts were too confusing, like most of those kinds of thoughts are to the young and as yet unwise in the matters of love, so he killed them. Gently.
Sometimes when he woke up before her, he would lie on his side, just watching her breath, her eyelids fluttering as she visited whatever world cartoons went to in their sleep. He would see her chest rising and falling gently like soft surf on a sunny beach. His heart would stop sometimes during those moments and he would catch his breath and then he would feel his eyes starting to water. Usually, she didn't wake up when he felt like that. She must have known he was watching her, she was pretty sensitive to that, but she gave him his moments of introspection and pride and kept him closer to her by doing so. Easier to catch a honey bee with honey than with sour grapes.
Yeah. They bundled. Slept side by side, arms wrapped around each other at night. Sometimes. When they weren't battling zombies, werewolves, vampires, mad doctors, aliens and other assorted human and inhuman beasties, but they did sleep...mostly on the go. Him on a bus to school or work, and her...he wasn't really sure if she ever really slept. He would open his eyes up at night sometimes to check if she was really asleep or not and she would either be gone, or if she was still next to him, her eyes would be closed. But he knew her well enough by now to know she could also be doing something else.
You see, Cartoon, was a Princess from the universe of cartoons. It was a strip of infinite land that bordered our own universe. It had few contact points. One of them had been the burning high rise where Johnnie had rescued her when she was pretending to be a small child so she could test his courage. He had passed the test and he had been granted enormous comic book powers. One day she had sat up beside him in bed, taken his trembling hands...because he still had to fight those hormones, remember?
She told him. "Johnnie, you're now the Comic Book Commando. Fighting for good against evil."
He had almost died on that bed, because he had burst into laughter. Not a good thing when you're seated next to a woman who can turn you into a froggie, or even just slice your head off with her magical sword which she could pull out of the air anytime she needed it. Nice trick he had thought at the time, until she looked ready to use it on him.
Then she had calmed down. After he had promised to cook breakfast for her the next morning and make her favorite waffles and fries. For some reason she loved fries and waffles. Don't ask him where she got that from, but he suspected it was from reading comic books about his world. And yeah, right her people wrote stories about this world and the heroes here. He didn't think such existed much anymore, but evidently her world had a sliding scale of values when it came to heroes that accommodate the earth's sometimes sparse treasury of such.
"Okay! Okay!" He had hollered, clamoring to get her temper down into the more arctic regions, so he could survive the night. "I'm sorry. Look, let me make it up to you. Waffles and fries for breakfast!"
Her sword had wavered over her head, from which it would have descended and struck his head off. (Though she swore afterwards she had only been pretending; he didn't believe it for a minute. No one's that perfect an actor! ) "Really?"
She let the sword slide back into her dimension and slid closer to him. "I'm just being honest with you, Johnnie. You know I can't lie." She told him sweetly.
He looked into her eyes and smiled. But inside he was thinking, right and I'm a horse in sheep's clothing. Everyone lies about something! He had thought.
Immediately the sword reappeared.
"You read his thoughts!" He snapped at her. "That's so...so..."
The sword wavered over his head.
"Scary." He finally said.
She burst into laughter and the sword vanished again. She threw her arms around his shoulders and hugged him close. He was reluctant at first. The hormone thing you know, but it's not good to say no to a Princess, especially one with a magical sword that could appear and take your head off at any given moment.
But getting back to the Hammer Man. He was really cool. A great red suit with blue and white stars on the shoulders, shoes that were solid blue with white stars on their tips, and a great big hammer, even bigger than Thor's. As a matter of fact the hammer could be any size you wanted. He was on page twenty and he had already clobbered a skyscraper with it to get at aliens who had taken it over and killed everyone inside. Just like that! BOOM! The building was history and a cloud of dust dirtying the skies of Chicago.
Did he mention that he was a Chicagoan? That's right. And an ex-policeman who had tried to stop corruption in his department and been framed for the very thing he was exposing. How's that for turnaround. Then one night he went camping out in the woods and a nuclear tipped missile accidentally strayed from an overflying Air Force jet. It had been struck by lightning. Yeah. Big storm. So he wasn't having much fun anyway, except for the display of lightning in the sky. So when he saw the incredibly huge object coming down from the sky at him, he had this hammer in his hands. It was made of a new alloy and he was testing it on the firewood to see if he could split logs with it. Didn't work, but as luck would have it, a lightning bolt struck the nuclear missile. It detonated. But not in the usual way. Instead of exploding outwards, it exploded inwards, but even though he wasn't smashed to smithereens and turned radioactive at least, the energies released from the inversion...for some crazy kind of comic book logic...the energies lanced into his hammer.
Of course he was holding tight to the hammer, and voila, Hammer Man was born.
Cartoon looked at him and shook her head. "Johnnie, you and your comic books."
"Yeah. And don't forget you wouldn't be here if I didn't love them, light bulb!"
It was a term of endearment He had for her. She frowned. She didn't like the implications of being a light bulb, because they can be switched off. "And He would be missing out on the most beautiful, smart Princess in this or any other universe...not to mention He would not be a..." He raised his voice in an imitation of the way TV announces heroes..."THE COMIC BOOK COMMANDO!"
He leaped to his feet and held his hand up, the Hammer of the comic book appearing in it.
Cartoon almost burst her gut with laughter.
He set the Hammer down and gave her a hug. She leaned into me. "Someday."
"Yeah." He sighed.
Guess I didn't tell you either that if we were to have...you know...her connection to our world would be broken. Then kaboom, no more Princess. Gone. Forever. And me, a lonely Comic Book Commando. Very lonely.
He felt a tear wetting his eyes.
She pressed it away gently with her finger. "What's wrong?"
"This is going to sound stupid and silly."
"And everything else doesn't?" She laughed.
He smiled. And just like that she forgot about what he might have told her and he forgot about what was causing his eyes to get moist.
The front door flung open and Laurie burst inside. She's his brunette friend he hangs with sometimes and plays music with. She's got one of me for a boyfriend too, a clone of me. I made two extras of me for her and Koomay. Aren't I nice? She finally discovered it, but she didn't care. He was me, even if cloned. And that was enough. Or at least that's what I hoped when she and Cartoon hung out together without me. God only knows what they said behind his back, which might explain why his ears burned sometimes when they were together and turned red hot when they were with Koomay as well.
Koomay is the other woman in his life at work.
"Johnnie! Come quickly!" She urged in alarm.
"You're about to die!"
He gave Cartoon a blank look, grabbed the Hammer that stay was manifested on his chair and ran after her, Cartoon on his heels, manifesting her sword as she flew along behind me. The Landlord managed to come out of an apartment at that moment, a bottle of Jim Bean in his right hand. He was swigging on it, when we rushed by.
Had he taken the time to look back he would have seen the Landlord empty the bottle, and go back into the room and slam the door. No doubt to sleep off what he thought was hallucinations. He took a moment to worry about the guy, and maybe even pity him, but not much longer. The man was a snoop and a Lech, and if he wasn't also nice in other ways, he would've sent him packing into another dimension or something the way he treated the women sometimes.
Laurie threw open her front door and he ran inside. My clone double was on the floor and a very odd creature was about to swallow him. He was almost all the way inside its throat, when he dashed in. The monster rolled several eyestalks around to look at me, sprouted a mouth with lots of teeth and said. "You're inside me!"
"Not really." He said with a smile, then grew his hammer to the size of a small horse and smashed its tail. My duplicate shot from its mouth and collided into the wall. Laurie ran to him as the creature rolled over to give me its full attention.
"Regards from hell." It bubbled in a strange, wet voice to me.
"Regards from heaven." He shot back at it, then increased the density of his hammer, made it with sharp, wicked little points on its head, then smashed it in the face.
The face sank inwards, but then popped out again.
Cartoon raced in front of me and sliced the head with her sword. The sword passed through it, and then exited the other side. The head squirted some green ichors several moments, but didn't tumble.
"Nice try, chickie!" The monster told Cartoon then slammed her with one its tentacle eyeballs. She flew against the wall, stunned.
He looked at his hammer and thought for a moment, what if...?
The creature leaped at me.
He shoved the hammer down its throat and told it what to do.
The creature's eyes shone with triumph for a moment, thinking it was going to swallow me and the hammer, and then the hammer did its thing. It began doubling in size, over and over and over.
He grabbed his duplicate from the floor where he lay and Cartoon and Laurie helped me carry him outside as the hammer did its job. Laurie shut the door.
The Landlord chose that moment to come out of his door again.
He saw the second Johnnie between him, Laurie and Cartoon...Cartoon's glowing skin, which was bright enough to light the entire complex, now that she was emotionally supercharged...and the sword in her hand.
He looked at the second bottle of Jim Bean in his hands, shook his head, and then went back inside. Several moments later we heard a bottle smash against the door of the apartment.
We paused to see if he would come out again. He didn't.
There was a WHOOMPH sound from inside Laurie's apartment and she opened the door to look inside. There was monster all over the floor, ceiling and walls. She groaned. "It'll take me days to clean the place up!"
The Johnnie in our arms stirred, and we helped him stand up. He gave me a quick glance, winked, and then took Laurie by the hand and inside. "Don't worry, honey baby, I'll clean it up for you. He blinked at his hands and they became mop heads gleaming with soap.
Cartoon shut their door and turned to me, after her flaming sword vanished.
She gave him a big kiss and a hug, and all their differences dissolved once more into the heap of memories none of us really want to reinvestigate when it comes to people we truly love with our heart and soul. He could feel her energies melding with his own and while maybe not exactly human as we understand it, it was something he loved and cared deeply about. Something he lived for and would....die for if necessary.
The Comic Book Commando was once more just a normal teen, walking beside the best looking girl this side of the universe. Now wasn't he just the luckiest of guys!
Rock and Roll the Comic Books."A Cartoon Story." by John Pirillo. "Love is sometimes a glow in the dark."
Rock and Roll the Comic Books.
"A Cartoon Story."
By John Pirillo.
It was a fierce battle, and no one was going to back off. No one was going to give an inch without getting blood in return. Lots of blood.
Trouble was, it was all from his picking fingers. They hurt like someone was cutting off a piece at a time and were starting to bleed. But he was relentless; he couldn't give up, because the fate of a world depended on him.
He was the Rock and Roll King and the beautiful Princess beside him, Cartoon, was the woman of his heart and soul and he couldn't let her be swept away by the hordes of Zombie guitar players who were hungry for her body, as well as her soul.
So he kept on picking at his electric guitar, his Jimmie Hendrix afro, flagging in the breeze of all the megawatt amps behind him and the ones behind the Zombie King, who was rocking on from the other side of the zombie horde, using the power of his rock and roll to stir them, to move them, to guide and rush them for he and Cartoon.
Johnnie had fought a lot of weird battles lately, but this had to take the cake for the most blood he'd shit.
"Oh shitzleputt!" He cursed as one of his picking fingers got so greasy from blood that he made a bad note.
That gave the zombie horde all the time they needed to reach the platform he and Cartoon were on. She took out her drum sticks, the ones he had gotten from the comic book Rock and Roll Stars and began poking at the closer ones. Each poke took out a zombie, but for every zombie she poked and annihilated into a cloud of gray and blood colored dust, came another one, just as eager as the last to take a bite of her tender flesh and anoint her into zombie hood.
"You won't win this battle, Johnnie!" Screamed the Zombie King. "My Mojo is greater than yours."
"You have no Mojo." He hollered back, staring down the monster. "Because you don't even know what it means, you son of a dog bone!"
The Zombie King snarled, revealed all twenty of his scary teeth, each one of them capped with gold and diamond studs. "Pretend you're tough, but admit it, this time I win!"
Johnnie reached into his back pocket where he kept the comic with the Rock and Roll King. Issue Number Ten, where the Rock and Roll King had a blaster for a right hand that could knock space ship out of the sky. He hurriedly thumbed through the pages, feeling the energies grow. He was getting better at this.
Then he started to lose the energies, until Cartoon put both her hands over his and gave him that smile that would knock the socks off a space suited astronaut.
His right hand flew up, now a cartoon blaster and he began firing into the horde. Zombie parts flew into the air, their snarls continuing as their heads separated from their bodies, then there was only one left. The Zombie King.
The Zombie King put down the bone guitar he had been playing and then stomped across the space of the auditorium towards them.
"I don't need hordes to finish you!"
Johnnie let the blaster hand dissolve back into his good right hand again, then pulled Cartoon against him.
He felt her warmth suffusing his body for a moment, and then said. "You don't have to stay with me."
"I'm not going anywhere without you. If you die, I'd rather not live!"
"But that monster won't let you die! He'll suck your flesh dry for centuries!"
"Just let him try!" She cursed, her eyes flashing with fury, and then turned to join me in the battle. We raised our silver swords tipped with Twinkies. They were deadly. The only way you can slice and dice a living zombie like the Zombie King is with one of those. It may sound a bit Disney, but it's true. They hate Twinkies. It separates them from their bones, and dissolves them back into dust ands them off to LaLa Land where they have to face the karmas they've created by their horrible deeds.
Oh yes, and in case you were wondering, not all zombies are made that way. Some choose to be that way. They're the worst and they're usually led by a scoundrel like the Zombie King. God knows I'd dissolved him a hundred times by now, but his hatred for me and humanity was so strong that he kept coming back from the dead.
Some day, when...if...I had the time, I'd have to do some research to see why he gets away with dying so many times and coming back. Was another human re-energizing raising him, a black sorcerer type like those from Doctor Strange? Speaking of which, I'd forgot to close up my Doctor Strange back home. I just hoped Elizabeth didn't sneak in and start reading it; it might let loose a horde of different monsters for me to take out.
The Zombie King leaped to the stage I and Cartoon stood upon and raised two swords over our heads. "Which to die first. Eeny, Meeny, Miney."
Cartoon and I both swung our Twinkie swords at the same time, one beheading him, the other slicing his body from neck to abdomen.
His head clunked to the platform we stood on, making a kind of squishy sound, then his eyes looked up at us. "Oops!"
Then the head the halved skeleton all made a powder puff explosion and vanished into gray and red dust.
Cartoon and I choked on it for a moment, and then took a deep breath as we leaped off the platform, which dissolved, along with all the remains of the battlefield. The local Wal-Mart store. Most of the patrons had scurried out as fast as they could when the zombies came a biting.
We exited the huge store, and then hugged.
"One of these days we really gotta get a life." I told her.
"You do." She said, smiling as she raised her lips for a kiss. "Me!"
We kissed. Oh, did I tell you that I really, really love this girl. Even if she is a cartoon that glows in the dark. Sigh!
Sci-fi fun and facts! The Journey to the Far Side of the Sun meets the Invaders starring Roy Thinnes.
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun starred Roy Thinnes who also starred in a remarkable science-fiction series broadcast on television, The Invaders, in the sixties and later remade starring Scott Bakula in the nineties also with Roy Thinnes.
Doppelgänger (1969 film) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Doppelgänger Film poster for US release, featuring alternative title Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
Directed by Robert Parrish Produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Screenplay by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Tony Williamson Story by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Starring Roy Thinnes
Patrick Wymark Music by Barry Gray Cinematography John Read Edited by Len Walter Production
Century 21 Cinema
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK)
Universal Pictures (US) Release dates
27 August 1969 (US)
8 October 1969 (UK) Running time
101 minutes Country United Kingdom Language English Doppelgänger is a 1969 British science-fiction film directed by Robert Parrish and starring Roy Thinnes, Ian Hendry, Lynn Loring and Patrick Wymark. Outside Europe, it is known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, which is now the more popular title. In the film, a joint European-NASA mission to investigate a planet in a position parallel to Earth, behind the Sun, ends in disaster with the death of one of the astronauts (Hendry). His colleague (Thinnes) discovers that the planet is a mirror image of Earth.
The first major live-action film of Century 21 writers-producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, noted for Thunderbirds and other 1960s "Supermarionation" puppet television series, shooting for Doppelgänger ran from July to October 1968. Using Pinewood Studios as the principal production base, Parrish also filmed on location in both England and Portugal. The professional relationship between the Andersons and their director became strained as the shooting progressed, while creative disagreements with cinematographer John Read resulted in his resignation from Century 21.
Doppelgänger premiered in August 1969 in the United States and October 1969 in the United Kingdom. Although the film in general has been praised for the quality of its special effects and set design, the plot device of the parallel Earth has attracted criticism, with some commentators judging it to be clichéd and uninspired in comparison to the precedent established by earlier science fiction. In addition, although Doppelgänger has frequently been interpreted as a pastiche of major science-fiction films of the 1960s, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), some of the devices and imagery used have been dismissed as weak imitations of the originals. It has been termed a cult film.
Actors and props from Doppelgänger would re-appear in a later Anderson TV series, UFO. Although the Andersons incorporated adult themes into their script in an effort to distinguish the film from their children's TV productions, cuts to more mature content, in this case a shot of a pack of contraceptive pills, were required to permit an A and, later, PG certificate from the BBFC. The film has had only a limited DVD run.
Plot In 2069, the unmanned Sun Probe locates a planet lying on the same orbital path as Earth on the opposite side of the Sun. Dr Kurt Hassler (Herbert Lom) of the European Space Exploration Council (EUROSEC) has been relaying the spacecraft's flight data to a rival power in the East; after tracing the transmissions to Hassler's laboratory, Security Chief Mark Neuman (George Sewell) catches the scientist in the act and kills him. EUROSEC director Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark) convinces NASA representative David Poulson (Ed Bishop) that the West must be the first to send a mission to investigate the planet. With EUROSEC member states France and Germany unwilling to provide financial support, Webb obtains majority funding from NASA; American astronaut Colonel Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) and British astrophysicist Dr John Kane (Ian Hendry), the head of the Sun Probe project, are assigned to the mission.
Launched from the EUROSEC Space Centre in Portugal in the spacecraft Phoenix, Ross and Kane spend the first half of their six-week round trip in stasis with "Heart Lung Kidney" machines managing their life functions. Three weeks after launch, the astronauts are revived in the planet's orbit. Scans for the existence of extraterrestrial life are inconclusive, and Ross and Kane decide to make a surface landing. As the astronauts descend through the atmosphere, an electrical storm damages their Dove lander shuttle, which crashes in a mountainous region that is revealed to be Ulan Bator, Mongolia. When an air-sea rescue unit returns Ross and Kane, the latter critically injured, to the Space Centre, it is apparent that the Phoenix mission has come to an untimely end after three weeks and that the astronauts have returned to Earth.
Neuman and EUROSEC official Lise Hartman (Loni von Friedl) interrogate Ross, who denies that he aborted the mission. Shortly after, Kane dies from his injuries. Eventually, Ross concludes that he is not on Earth, but indeed on the unknown planet – a Counter-Earth that is a mirror image of his. (Signs of this reversal include a clock whose hands move anticlockwise, a tape deck's reels that turn clockwise and an oscilloscope that scans from right to left. In addition, while driving at night, Ross almost collides with another vehicle that he believes to be on the wrong side of the road.)
Many at EUROSEC, including Ross's wife, Sharon (Lynn Loring), are baffled by the astronaut's claims that all aspects of life on the planet are reversed. However, Webb's view starts to change when Ross demonstrates the ability to read aloud from a sign, without hesitation, when it is reflected in a mirror; Webb is later convinced of the truth when X-rays from Kane's post-mortem examination reveal that his internal organs are positioned on the "wrong" side of his body. Ross conjectures that the two Earths lie parallel, inferring that his counterpart from this world is experiencing similar events on the far side of the Sun.
Webb suggests that Ross recover the flight recorder from Phoenix and return to his Earth. EUROSEC builds a replacement for Dove designed to be compatible with the reversed technologies of Phoenix. Modifications include the reverse-polarisation of the electric circuits, although no one is certain that the differences between the two Earths extend to the direction of current. Ross christens the new shuttle Doppelganger, a German word denoting a duplicate of a person or object.
Lifting off and entering orbit, Ross attempts to dock with Phoenix. However, Doppelganger experiences a technical malfunction, indicating that current is constant after all. The shuttle detaches from Phoenix and loses contact with EUROSEC, falling through the atmosphere towards the Space Centre with Ross struggling to disengage the automatic landing control. EUROSEC is unable to repair the fault from the ground, and Doppelganger crashes into a parked spacecraft. Ross is incinerated in the collision and a chain reaction destroys much of the Space Centre, killing personnel and destroying all records of Ross's presence on the Counter-Earth.
Many years later, an elderly and embittered Jason Webb, long since dismissed from EUROSEC, has been admitted to a nursing home. In his dementia, he spies his reflection in a mirror mounted in front of a window. Rolling forwards in his wheelchair, and reaching out to touch his reflected image, Webb crashes through the mirror and dies.
Production As his first contribution to live-action film, Gerry Anderson had directed Crossroads to Crime, a 1960 B feature, for Anglo-Amalgamated. Talent agent Leslie Grade had since approached Anderson with a proposal for a film starring actor Arthur Haynes, but discussions between Grade and Anderson had not produced a commission. In the summer of 1967, during the production of Anderson's Supermarionation television series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Universal Pictures executive Jay Kanter arrived in London from the United States. Planning to establish a European production office, Kanter expressed his willingness to provide funding for promising film ideas. Lew Grade, brother to Leslie and Anderson's financier at his TV distributor ITC Entertainment, arranged a meeting with Kanter for Anderson to pitch a story concept concerning the hypothesis of a "replicated" or "mirror" Earth. According to Anderson, he "thought, rather naïvely, what if there was another planet the other side of the Sun, orbiting at exactly the same speed and the same size as Earth? That idea then developed into the planet being a replicated Earth and that's how it ended up, a mirrored planet ... We were perfectly poised – I was Lew Grade's golden boy and the [Century 21] studio was a big success story."
Writing With the assistance of scriptwriter Tony Williamson, Anderson and his wife, Sylvia, had drafted a 194-page treatment long before the initial meeting with Kanter. The Andersons had originally intended to film the script as a one-hour drama for ATV; Sylvia explained that since the concept "was too good for a television play, I suggested to Gerry that we try to develop it as a movie." Responding to claims that Doppelgänger had "dark" scripting, Gerry stated that he wanted the film to have an interesting and entertaining premise. He also discussed the significance of the title, which was suggested to him by Century 21 co-director John Read: Doppelgänger being "a German word which means 'a copy of oneself', and the legend goes that if you meet your doppelganger, it is the point of your death. Following that legend, clearly, I had to steer the film so that I could end it illustrating the meaning of that word."
When Kanter expressed dissatisfaction with the draft, Gerry hired Donald James, a novelist whom he considered "a classy writer with a good reputation", to strengthen the characterisation. Although the film retained its original 2069 setting, the scenes set on the Counter-Earth underwent significant changes while James completed his revisions. Fundamentally, the characters of Ross and Kane switched roles: in the Andersons' draft, it was Ross who is injured in the Dove crash and Kane who was interrogated at the EUROSEC Space Centre. In scenes absent from the finished film, Kane is diagnosed with brain damage as a result of his apparent insanity, while Ross regains consciousness to find that the accident has left him blind. The return mission to Phoenix fails due not to an electrical fault, but to a structural defect in the second Dove module, which disintegrates in the atmosphere of the Counter-Earth with Kane trapped inside. EUROSEC Headquarters is left intact, and Kane's funeral is attended by his wife, the Rosses and Jason Webb.
Despite remaining unenthusiastic with the script, Kanter agreed to commission it as a film on the condition that he reserve the right to select a "bankable" director. Anderson would have selected David Lane, who had directed the two Thunderbirds film sequels, Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968). After a ten-week delay to filming, Robert Parrish, an American director whose latest project had been shelved, accepted the role. Parrish's film career up to 1968 had included co-editing Body and Soul (for which he had shared the 1947 Academy Award for Best Film Editing) and co-directing the 1967 James Bond spoof, Casino Royale. Anderson remembered Parrish as being "very ingratiating", stating that he "told us he loved the script and said it would be an honour to work with us. Jay Kanter gave Bob the thumbs up and we were in business." Although the box office failure of Casino Royale had prompted Anderson to question Parrish's ability, he stated that Doppelgänger could not have been made without his recruitment: "It wasn't a question of, 'Will we get on with him?' or, 'Is he the right man?' He was a name director, so we signed him up immediately."
Casting Supporting cast Actor Character Keith Alexander Flight Director Peter Burton Medical Technician 1 Anthony Chinn Air-Sea Rescue Operator Nicholas Courtney Medical Technician 2 John Clifford Gantry Technician Peter van Dissel Bonn Delegate Mallory Cy Grant Dr Gordon Alan Harris Public Relations Photographer Jon Kelley Male Nurse Annette Kerr Female Nurse Martin King Dove Service Technician Herbert Lom Dr Kurt Hassler Philip Madoc Dr Pontini George Mikell Paris Delegate Clavel Basil Moss Monitoring Station Technician Norma Ronald Secretary Pam Kirby Vladek Sheybal Psychologist Dr Beauville John Stone London Delegate Jeremy Wilkin Launch Control Technician Heading the cast of Doppelgänger is Roy Thinnes in the role of Colonel Glenn Ross of NASA. Anderson, who perceived a likeness to fellow American actor Paul Newman, cast Thinnes as the male lead after viewing his performance in the television series The Invaders (1967–68). In the Andersons' draft script, Ross's first name is Stewart, and he is said to have been the first man to walk on Mars. In a 2008 interview, Thinnes said, "I thought [Doppelgänger] was an interesting premise, although now we know that there isn't another planet on the other side of the Sun, through our space exploration and telescopic abilities. But at that time it was conceivable, and it could have been scary." To conform to the script's characterisation of Ross, and to the detriment of his respiratory health, Thinnes ended up smoking many packets' worth of cigarettes in the course of the production. Reporting on Thinnes' intention to demand a non-smoking clause in his next film contract, in September 1969 Australian newspaper The Age stated, "He smokes about two packets a day, but the perpetual lighting up of new cigarettes for continuity purposes was too much."
Ian Hendry stars as Dr John Kane, British astrophysicist and head of the Phoenix project. Hendry, who had appeared in the television series The Avengers (1961–69) and, according to Anderson, "was always drinking", performed the stunt sequence depicting the aftermath of the Dove crash while drunk: "... he was pissed as a newt, and it was as much as he could do to stagger away. Despite all that, it looked exactly as it was supposed to on-screen!" In the draft script, Kane's first name is Philip, and he has a wife called Susan. In scenes deleted from the completed film, a romance between Kane and Lise Hartman, a EUROSEC official portrayed by Austrian actress Loni von Friedl, is played out at Kane's villa and on a beach in Portugal.
Lynn Loring stars as Sharon Ross, the Colonel's wife. The role of the female lead had first been offered to Gayle Hunnicutt, who quit at the start of the filming after unexpectedly falling ill. Hunnicutt's withdrawal resulted in the casting of Loring, Thinnes' wife since 1967 and star of the television series The F.B.I. (1965–74). Had she remained in the role, Hunnicutt would have appeared in a nude scene scripted to distance the tone of Doppelgänger from that of earlier Anderson productions. In a 1968 interview in the Daily Mail newspaper, Anderson expressed his intention to change the public's perception of Century 21, who, in his view, had been "typecast as makers of children's films". On rumours that Doppelgänger would receive an X certificate from the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) for adult content, he replied, "We want to work with live artists doing subjects unsuitable for children." For the final cut of the film, the original nude shots were replaced with softer alternatives depicting Sharon stepping into and out of a shower.
The draft script describes Sharon as the daughter of a United States Senator, and she is said to be in a romantic affair with EUROSEC public relations officer Carlo Monetti. In the completed film, Italian actor Franco De Rosa briefly stars as Paulo Landi. The affair is implied in one scene but not explored further, prompting Simon Archer and Marcus Hearn, authors of What Made Thunderbirds Go! The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson, to suggest that De Rosa starred in a role "all but cut from Doppelgänger". In a deleted scene, on finding Paolo and Sharon in bed together at the Rosses' villa, Glenn angrily ejects the couple from the room and throws them both into a swimming pool. Archer and Hearn note an additional subplot concerning the Rosses' attempts to conceive a child and the deceit of Sharon, who has been using birth control pills to inhibit pregnancy without Glenn's knowledge.
Completing the main cast, Patrick Wymark stars as Jason Webb, director of EUROSEC. Having selected him on the basis of his performance as John Wilder in the television series The Plane Makers (1963–65) and The Power Game (1965–70), Anderson stated that Wymark's acting impressed him as much as Hendry's, but also that his similar drinking habits resulted in slurred lines on set. During the filming of one scene, Wymark "had to list these explanations ... and on take after take he couldn't remember that 'two' followed 'one'. We had to do it over and over again." Archer and Hearn identify Wymark's portrayal of Webb, a character described as "John Wilder (2069 model)" in publicity material, as the dominant performance of the film. The draft script describes Webb as a former British Minister of Technology, who is now romantically involved with his secretary, Pam Kirby.
Among the supporting cast, George Sewell stars as Mark Neuman, a German Operations Chief in EUROSEC who uncovers Dr Hassler's dealing with Communist China and whose parallel self directs the interrogation of Ross after the Dove crash. His surname in the draft script is Hallam. Finally, Ed Bishop stars as David Poulson, a NASA official. Bishop replaced English actor Peter Dyneley, who had voiced characters for Thunderbirds (1965–66), after the producers decided that Dyneley bore too much of a resemblance to Wymark and that scenes featuring both the characters of Poulson and Webb would confuse audiences.
Filming Fifteen weeks of principal photography commenced on 1 July 1968 at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire; shooting wrapped on 16 October having run alongside that for Joe 90. In September, location shooting in Albufeira, Portugal was accelerated for completion in two weeks as opposed to a month after politician Marcello Caetano deposed incapacitated Prime Minister Antonio Salazar, Parrish fearing that the coup d'état would cause the production of Doppelgänger to fall behind schedule. Filming in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire used the exterior of Neptune House (now part of the BBC Elstree Studios) as a double for EUROSEC Headquarters in Portugal. Heatherden Hall (part of the Pinewood complex) appears as the old Webb's nursing home.
The designers used forced perspective and metallic materials, besides other modifications to the set, to realise the EUROSEC teleconference scene at a cost lower than that of filming with actual monitor screens.
To create the illusion of the parallel Earth – apparent in images such as reversed text – both quickly and cheaply, the production staff inverted the film negatives using an optical process known as "flop-over". This technique saved the time and money that would otherwise needed to have been spent in building sets and props with specially reversed elements, or organising road closures to film cars driving on the "wrong" side of the road. However, the scenes set in or around the parallel EUROSEC Headquarters required careful rehearsal and co-ordination with cast and crew prior to filming. The incorporation of the flop-over technique results in some continuity errors: for example, the terminals of the Heart Lung Kidney machines onboard Phoenix are seen to be connected first to Ross and Kane's left wrists, then their right.
The production staff encountered difficulties in realising a scene at the start of the film depicting an international teleconference being conducted using high-resolution viewing monitors. Due to both the limited use of colour TV at the time of production, and the need to avoid black-and-white so as to honour the futuristic setting of Doppelgänger, it was decided to position the actors playing the conference delegates behind the set and cut the "screens" out of the set wall. Silver paper was added to reflect the studio lighting, producing a realistic impression of a high-resolution image. Altered eyelines strengthen the audience's perception that each delegate is facing a camera rather than the other actors in the scene, and are in different locations around the world. Archer and Hearn promote the teleconference scene as an example of how Anderson "proved once again that his productions were ahead of their time."
During the course of the production, the creative styles of Anderson and Parrish came into conflict. Anderson remembered that on several occasions Kanter was called on to mediate: "[Sylvia and I] both knew how important the picture was to our careers, and we both desperately wanted to be in the big time." During one session, Parrish refused to follow the shooting script, having determined independently that not all the scripted scenes were essential to the plot. When Anderson reminded Parrish of his contractual responsibilities, the director announced to the cast and crew, "Hell, you heard the producer. If I don't shoot these scenes which I don't really want, don't need and will cut out anyway, I'll be in breach of contract. So what we'll do is shoot those scenes next!" Anderson discussed how the production of Doppelgänger presented new challenges, explaining, "I had worked for so many years employing directors to do what I told them ... Suddenly I came up against a Hollywood movie director who didn't want to play and we ended up extremely bad friends." In his 2002 biography, Anderson stated that his sole regret about the film "[was] that I hired Bob Parrish in the first place." Sylvia Anderson comments that Parrish's direction was "uninspired. We had a lot of trouble getting what we wanted from him."
One dispute among the founders of Century 21 – Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Reg Hill and John Read – emerged from the filming of other scenes, including one in which the character of Lise Hartman bathes in a shower. Read, the director of photography, had complied with Parrish's instructions to light the sequence in silhouette. Anderson, who had intended the scene to display full-frontal nudity from actress Loni von Friedl, demanded a re-shoot, insisting that Read honour his obligations not just to Parrish as director but also to his Century 21 partners. According to Sylvia Anderson, "Gerry was very keen to show that he was part of the 'Swinging Sixties' and felt that seeing a detailed nude shot – as he visualised it – was more 'with it' than the more subdued version." Anderson clashed with Read and Parrish for a second time when special effects shots of Phoenix were filmed with a hand-held camera: "I knew enough about space travel to know that in a vacuum a spacecraft will travel as straight as a die ... [Parrish] told me that people were not familiar with space travel and therefore they would expect to see this kind of movement." Refusing to re-film the scenes on the basis that Parrish's instructions had precedence over Anderson's, Read resigned from both Century 21 and the production of Doppelgänger at the Andersons' and Hill's request. Anderson elaborated: "Clearly John was in a difficult position. I do now understand how he must have felt, but in my heart I feel he couldn't play a double role."
Dove (right) exits Phoenix (left) as Ross and Kane prepare to land on the planet. In general, reception to the scale model and special effects shots has been positive, and the designs of the Phoenix and Dove spacecraft have been praised. The Doppelganger shuttle that Ross uses to return to Phoenix is identical to Dove.
The production base for special effects was Century 21 Studios in Slough, Berkshire, which had been prepared for filming on the last Supermarionation series, The Secret Service. Supervising director Derek Meddings oversaw the shooting of more than 200 effects shots, including the destruction of EUROSEC Headquarters at the end of the film. A six-foot (1.8 m) Phoenix scale model, which emulated the design of the NASA multi-stage Saturn V rocket, had to be rebuilt after unexpectedly igniting and nearly injuring a technician. For authenticity, the effects staff mounted the shots of the Phoenix lift-off outdoors in a section of the Century 21 car park so as to film against a genuine sky backdrop. Archer and Hearn describe the sequence as "one of the most spectacular" of its kind produced by Century 21. Sylvia Anderson, who considers it indistinguishable from a Cape Kennedy launch, comments that she is "still impressed by the magic of the effects. Technology has come a long way since the early Seventies, but Derek's effects have endured."
Although Century 21 had constructed a life-size Dove capsule in Slough, it could not be used for filming at Pinewood Studios due to an arrangement with the National Association of Theatrical Television and Kine Employees (NATTKE) to build and use such props exclusively on-site. Once the original had been incinerated, carpenters at Pinewood re-built the prop, although Anderson remained disappointed with the finished product, which he considered inferior. Reviewing the scale models of Doppelgänger, Martin Anderson of the entertainment website Den of Geek describes the Phoenix command module as "beautifully ergonomic without losing too much NASA-ness", and the Dove lander module as "a beautiful fusion of JPL gloss with classic lines". He argues that the Phoenix launch sequence stood as the finest example of Meddings' work until his contributions to the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, and praises his efforts all the more for the absence of computer animation in the late 1960s.
Post-production Composer Barry Gray recorded his score, his favourite of all his musical contributions to the Anderson productions, in three days from 27 to 29 March 1969. Fifty-five musicians attended the first studio session, with 44 at the second and 28 at the last. The track titled "Sleeping Astronauts", which accompanies the scenes of Ross and Kane's journey through the Solar System, features an Ondes Martenot, played by French ondiste Sylvette Allart. Archer and Hearn credit "Sleeping Astronauts" as "one of the most enchanting pieces Gray ever wrote", and state that the soundtrack, which has never been released commercially, evokes a "traditional Hollywood feel" that is in contrast to the 2069 setting of Doppelgänger. The inspiration for the title sequence, set inside the secret laboratory of Dr Hassler, was the espionage theme embodied by the character: in what Archer and Hearn describe as an imitation of the style of 1960s James Bond films, a miniature camera is seen to be concealed inside Hassler's artificial eye.
UK Doppelgänger film poster
When production on Doppelgänger ended in October 1968, all 30 episodes of Joe 90 had been completed and the Andersons' upcoming television series, The Secret Service, had entered pre-production. The final cut was given a mediocre reception by Universal Pictures executives, causing the film's release to be postponed for a year. It received an A certificate from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) on 26 March 1969, dispelling rumours of an X rating and fulfilling the Andersons' objective that Doppelgänger be suitable for children accompanied by adults. To secure an A certificate, brief cuts were made to shots of contraceptive pills, shortening the running time from the original 104 minutes.
Doppelgänger opened at the Odeon Cinema in London's Leicester Square on 8 October 1969, having premiered on 27 August in the United States. On 1 November, it debuted in Detroit, Michigan, commencing a second round of presentations in American cinemas. The film received a disappointing box office reception on general release.
British distributors Rank released the film under its original name in the UK and the rest of Europe. The title Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was adopted in the United States and Australia, since it had been determined by Universal that the audiences of these countries might not understand the meaning of the term "doppelganger". Simon Archer and Stan Nicholls, authors of Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Biography, concede that Journey to the Far Side of the Sun – which has superseded Doppelgänger as the more popular title – provides a clearer explanation of the plot, but argue that it lacks the "intrigue and even poetic quality of Doppelgänger".
TV broadcasts Two prints of Doppelgänger in its original 35 mm format, for UK release, are known to exist. One is retained by the British Film Institute (BFI), the other by Fanderson, the official fan society dedicated to the Gerry Anderson productions. The original prints of Doppelgänger position Ian Hendry before Roy Thinnes in the opening credits; in the Journey to the Far Side of the Sun format, Thinnes is billed before Hendry. Certain UK prints alter the final scene featuring the old Jason Webb with the addition of a short voice-over from Thinnes in character as Ross, who is heard speaking a line that he says to Webb earlier in the film: "Jason, we were right. There are definitely two identical planets."
In the UK, Doppelgänger has been aired on TV under the title Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and has been formatted accordingly. Broadcasts have often contained inverted picture due to a mistake made in transferring the original print to videotape. Prior to a screening in the 1980s, a telecine operator viewed the print and, being unfamiliar with the premise of the film, concluded that the scenes set on the parallel Earth had been reversed in error. An additional "flop-over" edit restored the image to normal, which became the standard for all broadcasts but compromised the plot: if Doppelgänger is screened in this modified form, the viewer is led to conclude that the parallel Ross has landed on the non-parallel, normal Earth.
Home video Previously available in laserdisc format, Doppelgänger was released on NTSC Region 1 DVD in both 1998 and, in digitally-remastered form, in 2008. The 2008 release included PAL Region 2 for the first time, although the film is marketed as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun rather than Doppelgänger. No additional material is present on the Region 1 releases, but the Region 2 version features a film trailer. Whereas the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has certified the film G since its 1969 theatrical release, with the 2008 home video release the BBFC re-rated Doppelgänger PG from the original A for "mild violence and language".
A Blu-ray version will be released in Region A on 7 April 2015 under the Journey to the Far Side of the Sun title.
Reception Since its original release, Doppelgänger has had a mixed critical reception in both the UK and the US, although Archer and Nicholls argue that it has acquired cult status. Gary Gerani, co-writer of Pumpkinhead (1988), ranks the film 81st in his book Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies, praising Doppelgänger as a "fine example of speculative fantasy in the late '60s". He expresses satisfaction with Thinnes' and Wymark's performances, the characterisation (and the themes entailed, including adultery, infertility and corruption) and the "Fourth of July-style" special effects, calling the film "enigmatic".
1960s and 70s
There were some great sequences and the special effects were outstanding. Perhaps the mistake I made was in insisting that we incorporate "Gerry's view of the future", where everybody is squeaky clean and everything is sparkling and shining and sanitised. Unfortunately that isn't what most people see as humanity's natural state ...Star Trek was similar but succeeded because it had a philosophy attached to it. It also had believable people with good characterisation.
— Gerry Anderson (1996 and 2002)
In a review published in The Times in October 1969, John Russell Taylor praised the concept of the film as "quite ingenious" but suggested that the title and pre-release marketing had revealed too much of the plot for the film to sustain the interest of its audience. Commenting in New York magazine in November, Judith Crist introduced Doppelgänger as "a science-fiction film that comes up with a fascinating premise three-quarters of the way along and does nothing with it." She praised the production as being "nicely gadget-ridden" and raising questions on the conflict between politics and science, but criticised the editing. Variety magazine cited a confusing plot, and related the crash of the Dove module to the coherence of the scriptwriting in its declaration that, "Astronauts take a pill to induce a three-week sleep during their flight. Thereafter the script falls to pieces in as many parts as their craft."
In his 1975 work A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films, Jeff Rovin stated that the film was "confusing but colourful", and commended it for its "superb special effects". Although it was argued to be better than average for the genre in The Miami News in September 1969 and The Montreal Gazette in April 1972, a December 1969 edition of the Pittsburgh Press dismissed it as "a churned out science-fiction yarn ... Let's hope there's only one movie like this one", and ranked it among the worst films of the year. The The Montreal Gazette review maintained that, although the quality deteriorates towards the end of the film, "until then it's a reasonably diverting futuristic melodrama."
Post-1970s In a 2008 review for Den of Geek, Martin Anderson praised Robert Parrish's direction and Derek Meddings' effects. However, the dialogue, which was described as "robust and prosaic", was stated to sit "ill-at-ease with the metaphysical ponderings". Anderson also expressed concern about the editing, stating that every effects shot precedes another shot "with that 'Hornby' factor, slowing up the narrative unnecessarily". Doppelgänger is awarded a rating of three stars out of five, and is summarised as "an interesting journey with many rewards". Glenn Erickson, commenting in 2008 on the website DVD Talk, argued that Doppelgänger "takes an okay premise but does next to nothing with it. We see 100 minutes of bad drama and good special effects, and then the script opts for frustration and meaningless mystery." He complained of unappealing cinematography, comparing it to the premise of Thunderbirds in so far as "people stand and talk a lot", while defining the script as being composed of "at least 60 percent hardware-talk and exposition ... How people move about – airplane, parachute, centrifuge – is more important than what they're doing."
Made as a science-fiction thriller by imagination producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, events since its filming may well demand the dropping of the word "fiction" from its description. In today's space terminology it almost rates as science – and pure reportage through film. Still it evolves as a fascinating motion-picture entertainment.
— Southeast Missourian (1970)
On the subject of effects, Erickson asserted that sequences such as the "thuddingly generic, drama-challenged main rocket launch" detract from the human factor of the film. Other design elements were criticised: viewing the costumes as dated, Erickson added that "the actors are defeated by the Barbie doll house surroundings", and suggested that the visuals of Doppelgänger match an ethos of "the future will be a shopping mall". Despite judging Doppelgänger "good" (a rating higher than "fair" but lower than "excellent"), Erickson argued that the opportunities presented by the parallel Earth concept were squandered in the determination to turn the production into "an excuse to show cool rocket toys".
Doppelgänger is given a rating of two-and-a-half stars out of five in a negative review published on the Film4 website, which praises the effects work and costume design but criticises the scenes with the character of Dr Hassler for their irrelevance to the main plot, and the subtext of the Rosses' troubled marriage as an unnecessary diversion from the narrative. Although Ross and Kane's mission through space is described as a "brief, trippy light show", the review questions the originality of having a parallel Earth as the focus, and the depth of the script's vision: "Anderson's has to be the cheapest alternate Earth ever. Whereas audiences might expect a world where the Roman Empire never fell or the Nazis won World War II, here the shocking discovery is that people write backwards. That's it." Doppelgänger is only recommended for fans of the Anderson productions, and is considered "an occasionally interesting failure".
Director Robert Parrish has made some extraordinarily expressive movies ... but must have run up against too many uncontrollable elements on this show – namely, producers that dictate every detail as if all the actors have strings attached to their heads and arms.
— Glenn Erickson (2008)
Gary Westfahl of the webzine SF Site asserts that the use of a near-perfect parallel Earth is uninspired, referring to the setting as "the most boring and unimaginative alien world imaginable". Among other reviews, TV Guide magazine describes Doppelgänger as a "strange, little film" with an "overwritten script", and considers the subplot concerning Dr Hassler's treachery to be distracting. It awards a rating of two stars out of four. To Chris Bentley, writer of episode guides on the Anderson productions, Doppelgänger is a "stylish and thought-provoking science-fiction thriller".
Sylvia Anderson suggests that American audiences, who were less familiar with the Supermarionation productions of Century 21, were more enthusiastic. She explains, "It was all too easy to compare our real actors with our puppet characters and descriptions such as 'wooden', 'expressionless', 'no strings attached' and 'puppet-like' were cheap shots some of the UK critics could not resist ... Typecasting is the lazy man's friend, and boy, were we typecast in Britain." On her feelings about Doppelgänger, she commented in 1992, "I saw it on TV a couple of years ago and I was very pleased with it. I thought it came over quite well."
Interpretation Archer and Nicholls cite among possible causes of the commercial failure of Doppelgänger its "quirky, offbeat nature" and the loss of public interest in space exploration after the Apollo 11 mission. The subject of the July 1969 Moon landing dominated a contemporary review in The Milwaukee Journal, in which Bennett F. Waxse noted comparisons with Doppelgänger: "... the spacemen find a few bugs in their 'LM' and crash on the planet. And do they ever have their hands full in getting back to Earth!" Writing that the proliferation of technical dialogue hampers the acting, he concluded, "... the makers of this space exploiter may get lots of mileage at the box office, but Neil, Buzz and Mike did it better on TV."
Webb meets his death in a scene stated to imitate the visual style of the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Critic Glenn Erickson suggested that Doppelgänger is "infected with '2001-itis'", referring to the old Webb as a "feeble asylum patient" who "sits in a wheelchair in a corridor resembling Dave Bowman's holding cell on the alien planet beyond the Star Gate."
It has also been suggested that the 1968 releases of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes established an unattainable standard for other films of the science-fiction genre. Erickson argues that the film is inferior to 2001 for its depiction of a realistic "working future" in which humans remain attached to commercialism. Comparing the visual style of Doppelgänger to that used by film director Stanley Kubrick, he notes similarities in the use of close-up eye shots and various "psychedelic" images, regretting that "all these borrowings are fluff without any deeper meaning." Film4's review describes the final scenes featuring the character of Jason Webb as "hell-bent on recreating the enigmatic finale of 2001 by using a mirror, a wheelchair and a tartan blanket."
Martin Anderson discusses connections between Doppelgänger and other science-fiction films of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Solaris, acknowledging a "lyrical" tone in the dialogue. Ultimately, however, Doppelgänger "doesn't bear comparison with Kubrick or [Solaris director Andrei] Tarkovsky." Comparing Doppelganger to 2001, Rovin writes that the effects of the former "[occasionally] outshine" those of the latter." He goes onto state that the film "attempts to kindle a profundity similar to that of  in its abstract philosophising about the dichotomy of dual worlds, but fails with a combination of meat-and-potatoes science fiction and quasi-profound themes." He suggests that it is "neither a kid's film nor a cult film", but rules that "the elements that comprise the finished effort are more than individually successful."
Erickson contrasts perceived failures on the part of the script with the efforts of Nigel Kneale for the 1958 BBC serial Quatermass and the Pit and the 1964 film adaptation of the 1901 H.G. Wells novel The First Men in the Moon. Both Douglas Pratt and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London liken the concept of the alternative Earth to the plot of "The Parallel", a 1963 episode of the American television series The Twilight Zone: in the episode, an astronaut returns to Earth to find that his world has undergone many changes – some trivial, some drastic – and concludes that he has arrived in a parallel universe. Critic S. T. Joshi compares the theme of duplication in Doppelgänger to the premise of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), in which characters' fears that their relatives have been abducted and replaced with alien impostors are vindicated with the appearance of the Pod People, an extraterrestrial species with the power to create doppelgangers that are nearly indistinguishable from humans.
Legacy Despite the polarised critical reception and commercial failure of Doppelgänger, Lew Grade offered the Andersons further opportunities to film in live action. Their first television series not based on puppetry was UFO, which premièred in the UK in 1970. Doppelgänger is considered an immediate precursor to UFO, and has also been described as a "trial run" for the Andersons' second live-action series, Space: 1999. UFO featured actors, costumes, props, locations and music that had previously appeared in Doppelgänger. Of the film's cast, Ed Bishop, Keith Alexander, Cy Grant, Martin King and Jeremy Wilkin had previously had an association with the Andersons: all had provided voices for Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons except Alexander, who had voiced characters for the penultimate Supermarionation series, Joe 90. With 11 other cast members, all but Grant and King appeared in at least one episode of UFO, in which Bishop had in the lead role of Commander Ed Straker.
Special effects elements from Doppelgänger that were recycled for UFO included the scale models of Phoenix and Dove . Futuristic cars (which consultants from the Ford corporation based on the chassis of the Zephyr Zodiac) and jeeps (adapted from British Leyland Mini Mokes) were also re-used. Neptune House, one of the filming locations for Doppelgänger, became the face of the Harlington-Straker Film Studios where the SHADO Organisation is headquartered. Tracks from Barry Gray's score that were recycled for UFO included "Sleeping Astronauts" and "Strange Planet", the latter serving as the ending theme music. The teleprinter images that served as the focus of the film's titles formed a creative element that was imitated in the opening titles of UFO.
In a retrospective of Anderson's career published on the IGN website, it is stated that the discussion of politics and economics in Doppelgänger contrast with the conventions of 1960s science fiction. Furthermore, such aspects are reflected in the atmosphere of UFO in so far as the characters "were constantly having to deal with the pressures of having to show progress under the scrutiny of accountants and elected officials, much the same way NASA was starting to in the US." Commenting on the parallels between the film and the television series, Martin Anderson makes another connection to Kubrick: turning his attention to the scripting, he argues, "the most interesting common ground between the two projects remains the bleak ending(s) and the slight flirtation with the acid-induced imagery and mind fucks of 2001."
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