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Once upon a time, probably back in the late 1990s or thereabouts, I walked into a room where someone else had been watching something on television. I somehow got the impression it was an old movie, rather than a television episode from some science-fiction-themed show, but I now realize I cannot swear to that. The problem is that I only saw the last few minutes of the movie. I don't remember exactly what happened in the next-to-last scene -- I think that's where I walked in -- but I do remember the final scene pretty well.

Here are the points I can recall about what little I saw:

  1. The movie was in black-and-white.

  2. I got the distinct impression at the time that the movie dated back to the 1950s or perhaps 1960s. The characters in the bit I remember were speaking English with American accents.

  3. In the final scene, there were just three characters with speaking parts. The Father, the Young Boy, and the Robot. I have a vague idea that the Father's haircut struck me as resembling the way "the Professor" (played by Russell Johnson) normally wore his hair in the TV show Gilligan's Island. I think the Young Boy appeared to have straight blond hair (allowing for the black-and-white nature of the imagery), and the Robot was about what I'd expect from a low-budget robot character in a 1950s movie -- visually a simple design, two arms and two legs, with a large cylinder for the torso, and a metal head which I think had a rounded-off appearance instead of closely resembling a human head. (It may have had a pair of lenses as "eyes," though), and metal limbs which likewise did not look as if they belonged to a human being. (Although I presume the actor's arms and legs fit comfortably inside.) I don't swear the robot's outer shell was really made out of metal -- for all I know, the actor may have been wearing a cardboard suit that had been painted over to create a vaguely metallic appearance and thus gave the impression of being much heavier than it really was. (Or perhaps it was all smooth pieces of plastic -- I'm pretty gullible about such things.)

  4. Dialogue indicated that the Father had previously given some specific orders to his son which the latter had deliberately disobeyed. Perhaps something along the lines of "don't leave the spaceship without my permission." I got the impression that the son's disobedience might actually have had beneficial consequences -- and it obviously hadn't gotten him killed or wounded, since he appeared quite healthy -- but the son probably didn't know what would happen when he went AWOL, or did whatever he had done in defiance of orders.

  5. The Father, not seeming happy about it, but sounding like he's forcing himself to be firm, states that the son must be spanked for his disobedience. I think the son bends over a piece of furniture and waits. After a moment, when the father has not been able to bring himself to strike his kid's butt right away, the camera zooms in on the boy's face as he asks impatiently: "Well? Are you going to get it over with?" (Or words to that effect.)

  6. As the father is (presumably) about to go through with it, the Robot suddenly speaks up -- I believe for the first and only time in this scene. It may have grabbed the father's arm or wrist, but I'm not sure of that part. At any rate, the Robot says roughly the following: "I'm sorry, sir, but I cannot allow you to do that. I was ordered to protect [Boy's Name] from physical harm, and that order is still in effect." (Honesty compels me to say that, despite the polite use of the word "sorry," the Robot does not sound particularly regretful.)

  7. There's a stunned pause, and then I believe the Father and the Young Boy both start laughing. The implication is that the Robot's argument seems to be a very convenient face-saving excuse to cancel the proposed spanking -- indefinitely! (In theory, the Father could have tried again at some other time when the Robot was not present, but I gathered that simply wasn't going to happen.) The final credits appeared on the screen, and that was that.

Can anyone identify this film for me?

Note: I was reminded of this when I recently ran across an online mention of Robby the Robot, a character in the 1950s SF classic Forbidden Planet. I checked that film's Wikipedia entry. According to the plot summary, Forbidden Planet did not end with a friendly robot preventing a man from administering corporal punishment to his wayward son. I just mention this to save someone the trouble of proposing that as an answer to the question.

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1 Answer 1

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Right robot, wrong movie?

The Invisible Boy, from 1957? It is the second film appearance of Robby the Robot, the first being the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet.

The last scene is:

Timmie and Dr. Merrinoe return to the lab to shut down the supercomputer, but it stops them. Robby then shows up and turns against the supercomputer, destroying its power source. Everything is back to normal we find the Merrinoes having a peaceful evening, Dr. Merrinoe is about to spank Timmie as punishment for ignoring him. He is however stopped by Robby (whose protective programming has been restored), and the film ends with a shot of the Merrinoes and Robby all having a peaceful evening together.

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    I didn't see that coming. When I was reminded of the scene I once saw, and then took a quick look at the plot summary of Forbidden Planet, it never occurred to me that "Robby the Robot" might have been literally the same robot character I described; making a comeback in a later film. Instead, I was leaning toward the idea that the robot I had glimpsed might well have been one whose creators were inspired by the success of Forbidden Planet. Live and learn! Judging from what you quoted, there's really no room for doubt that you've nailed it.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 1:41
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    I've never seen this one. I found it by hitting Google with 'science fiction spanking robot movie'. In retrospect, I'm surprised that actually worked. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 1:47
  • Before I posted this, I believe I tried such things as "science fiction" "robot" "movie" "1950s" "little boy" and so forth, but it did not immediately occur to me that the spanking that didn't even happen would be a useful thing to add to the search terms. I guess I assumed a typical online listing for old SF movies wouldn't even mention it?
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 1:49
  • @DoscoJones: I'm surprised that didn't send you to some porn site specializing in BDSM/science fiction cross-over porn. "Watch Princess Leia spank Obi-Wan. May the flogger be with you." Or something.
    – JRE
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 7:25
  • @JRE I just had to google that description. And while I didn't see that exact thing. Hmmm.. rule 34.
    – Peter M
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 15:36

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