Sargent (1925-2014), born Giuseppe Danielle Sorgente (albeit in Jersey City), has been a hugely neglected filmmaker. He was something of an adjustable wrench among directors, given that he could handle just about any genre effortlessly and without narcissistically stamping his name on it.
As a filmmaker, he tended to disappear within his subject matter, as evidenced by his output which includes the original (and superior) "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974), Burt Reynolds' pleasing "White Lightning" (1973), the solid war flick "The Hell with Heroes" (1968), Gregory Peck's "MacArthur" (1977), Susan Anton's underrated "Goldengirl" (1979) and the Robert Blake-Dyan Cannon lark "Coast to Coast" (1980).
And there were several impressive TV films - "Hustling" (1975) with Lee Remick and Jill Clayburgh, the incredibly popular "Sunshine" (1973) with Cristina Raines and "The Man" (1972), which was was detoured into theaters before actually playing on network TV. And with good reason.
Adapted by Rod Serling from Irving Wallace's novel, "The Man" stars James Earl Jones as the first black President. A tad ahead of its time.
But my favorite Sargent film remains 1970's juicy "Colossus: The Forbin Project," a title that has always been available on home entertainment but is honored here because, despite enthusiastic reviews, this terrific movie has never been given its due - by either its studio or the viewing public.
Adapted by filmmaker James Bridges from the D.F. Jones novel, the preternaturally observant movie details - in an immensely entertaining fashion - how a sophisticated computer, named Colossus, designed ostensibly to control the country's nuclear defense network, goes berserk with power, turning on its creator, Dr. Charles Forbin.
Colossus ultimately joins forces with its Soviet counterpart, Guardian, to become a single Super Power bent on taking over the world from humans. Not unexpectedly, Sargent's film is effectively creepy, but also unexpectedly witty.
Eric Braeden is commanding as Dr. Forbin in a performance that should have led to bigger and better things. For one, Braeden would have made a terrific 007. Instead, this fine actor has enjoyed a lengthy, lucrative run as the willfully evil patriach, Victor Newman, on NBC's excellent (and compulsively watchable) daytime drama, "The Young and the Restless."
Braeden's daily performances on the show come with an effortless grace and a wicked sense of humor, so much so that I still continually fantasize about what a wonderful Bond he would have been. Inarguably.
His co-stars in "Colossus" are Susan Clark, as the thinking man's love interest, and Canada's Gordon Pinsent as the Kennedy-like President of the United States. Both provide atypically combative support as each one spars with Braeden over his beloved demon child.
Universal, alas, exhibited limited interest in the film which had the working title "Colossus" in production, was released initially as "The Forbin Project" and then as "Colossus: The Forbin Project" for a half-hearted reissue.
Funny thing, all three titles are fine. The movie itself is better than fine.
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~The cover page of James Bridges' script for the film when it was simply titled "Colossus."
~ Braeden in a scene from the film