Saturday, July 14, 2012

SATURN 3 (1980) Lobby Cards

This colorful selection of European lobby cards for Stanley Donen's 1980 sci-fi thriller, Saturn 3, rather nicely illustrate the remarkable production design of the late John Barry - not the famed composer, but the well-respected art director/production designer who had worked on Phase IV, A Clockwork Orange, Star Wars and the first two Superman films before his untimely demise during the development of Saturn 3. In fact, the film was Barry's baby; he co-wrote the story and was set to direct. When he passed away suddenly, producer Donen took over and completed the movie.

Whatever flaws the film has - and it has plenty - it certainly looks terrific, with phenomenal sets and tech (especially the robot Hector).


  1. Saturn 3 was the best science-fiction motion picture of the early 1980s and beyond.

  2. I literally never thought I'd ever hear anyone say that. Wow.

    I enjoy the film, but... wow.

  3. It still holds up pretty well, mostly down to the great design work, I'm sure the co-writer and original director John Barry drew a little from his work on A Clockwork Orange with all the colourful pipes and tubing on the base, it looks very '70's in the best possible way.
    Incidentally, the Hector robot and part of the control centre set would up on display in the Palladium Cellars, an early '80's movie themed animatronic version of a waxworks in London. You can see a little of the set in this footage at around the 1.48 mark:


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  5. According to Wikipedia..

    " Barry was given the chance to direct his own project, the science fiction film Saturn 3. During filming, Barry fell out with the movie's star Kirk Douglas and was replaced by Stanley Donen."

    Is this correct?

    Btw, I remember this film as a kid, but never got to see it. Wouldn't mind taking a look at it.

    Mighty Ploomp

    1. Actually, my understanding is that he fell ill, and was replaced as director by the producer, Stanley Donen. Barry died before the movie was released.

    2. Chris, love the blog but according to some great Saturn 3 sites I've read, Barry died of a rare form of meningitis while working as the production designer on The Empire Strikes Back. He left Saturn 3 during early production and Donen was forced to take over. A quote from Donen:

      “It was my fault, not John’s. The truth is John had hardly ever been on a set, which I didn’t realize. He was such a terrific talent, but he’d spent most of his time in an office. He knew next to nothing about staging a scene, or handling actors. And since nature hates a vacuum, the actors jumped on him. The film started floundering. Finally I had to tell him: ‘It’s not working. I’ll have to be on the set with you.’ I had a moral commitment, after all; I’d make sure the film went all right. But when I did turn up on the set, John said he just couldn’t work like that, so he left. There was no question of his being fired.”

      Here is a great making of site: