Sunday, October 24, 2021


Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 22
Total First Time Views: 14
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $1,760.00

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) d. Jack Arnold (USA) (81 min) (8th viewing)

Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is getting smaller.

No matter how strongly he denies it, no matter how his devoted wife Louise (Randy Stuart) reassures him, no matter that the doctors and specialists are stumped, there is no avoiding the truth of the situation. This once full-grown, everyday ad executive is slowly diminishing in size, with his normal surroundings becoming an ominous reminder of his plight. Wearing clothes that no longer fit, dwarfed by ordinary home furnishings, and with the race against time becoming increasingly desperate every day, Scott is literally reduced to reassessing his place in the world, one which – pardon the expression – grows ever more threatening.

Based upon his own novel, Richard Matheson’s intelligent and compelling screenplay (his first, in what would become a legendary body of work) takes the stuff of pulp horror and refines it into something approaching poetry by its existential conclusion. Inverting the gigantism craze of the era, one which had already served up such drive-in classics as Them! and Tarantula, Matheson allows the gimmicky high concept to serve as a means of examining the American male’s unsure place in an ever-changing world.

Shrinking Man’s brisk running time manages to fold in an impressive number of poignant dramatic moments, beginning with Scott and Louise’s introduction lolling on the deck of his brother’s borrowed yacht. Their idyllic and loving relationship is immediately established, setting up the emotional cost of what follows when their craft drifts through a mysterious, unexplained radioactive fog. (Louise has gone below to fetch refreshments, thereby avoiding Scott’s fate, a twist that lingers in the brain long after. What if he had gone with her? What if he had gotten the beer himself and left her on deck. What if…?)

Other stingers include Scott’s wedding ring falling off in the car, the realization that his new little person friend Clarice (April Kent) is now taller than he, Butch the family feline’s sneaking in the door when Louise turns away to fetch her gloves, and so on. Of course, the diminutive Scott’s terrifying encounters with the aforementioned cat and a gigantic basement-dwelling tarantula are understandably the most memorable and have become the stuff of 1950s sci-fi legend, holding up nearly 65 years later.

With sure-handed Universal veteran Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon) at the helm, aided immeasurably by special photographic effects wizard Clifford Stine (This Island Earth), art directors Robert Clatworthy and Alexander Golitzen’s uncredited cadre cranking out astonishing and meticulous oversized props, and Williams’ effective and highly physical lead performance, what could have been an enjoyably fanciful if ludicrous scenario instead becomes a thrilling and thoughtful celebration of the human spirit.

An essential science fiction classic and a bona-fide must-see.

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