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The Incredible Shrinking Man

Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  81m  •    •  Directed by: Jack Arnold.  •  Starring: Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey, William Schallert, Frank J. Scannell, Helene Marshall, Diana Darrin, Billy Curtis, Lock Martin, John Hiestand, Joe La Barba.  •  Music by: Irving Gertz, Earl E. Lawrence, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein.
        After an exposure to a strange mist, Scott Carey begins to shrink. After facing such trials as confounded doctors and his angry cat, he accidently gets locked in the basement. His very life then becomes a battle for survival, with only his wits to overcome the liability of his size.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 0:38
 
 
 1:14
 
 
 2:08
 
 

Review:

Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Image from: Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
I hadn't seen this one for at least 7 years, so it was somewhat built up in my mind when I sat down to watch it yesterday. Some things occurred just as I remembered them, while others were much different. For instance, I remembered the scenes of Carey and Clarice to be more numerous, but there were only two, and each quite brief. Likewise I thought their final scene occurred back at the café, but instead it happens on a park bench. I also totally forgot about Carey's final voice-over! Kind of funny how memory distorts things.

Anyhow, I wasn't able to appreciate this as a kid, but in retrospect I thought of it as being quite profound, so I was excited to revisit it. Thankfully it turns out to have aged quite well. Unlike the modern genre film (or at least the modern mainstream genre film), which relies almost exclusively on spectacle, this combined the top notch special effects of its day with some top notch writing, courtesy of Richard Matheson. Though not all of the effects hold up (some of the compositing is pretty bad), this is still an incredibly strong film thanks to the thoughtful script, some very good performances, and some suspenseful direction from Jack Arnold.

What sets this apart from most films of its ilk is the focus on human drama. Whereas a lot of films might be built around set-pieces (which this film certainly has its share of), this has a healthy focus on the deterioration of Carey's marriage and his crumbling ego. Grant William's performance as Scott Carey is especially affecting, as he effortlessly segues from sympathetic victim to bitter tyrant and finally a zen-like acceptance.

While I already mentioned the dubious compositing, most of the special effects hold up pretty well, thanks to some clever use of forced perspective and giant sets and props. The creativity that went into the various sequences of Carey fighting for survival in the basement is admirable. His fight with the spider is still absolutely horrifying. As for his battle with the cat, it's pretty suspenseful but definitely a bit humorous. The only decision I still find to be somewhat detrimental is the casting of an average sized woman as the diminutive Clarice. That we're supposed to buy that this woman is an actual little person (especially with Billy Curtis in the same scene!) is ludicrous and somewhat offensive. Would it have been so hard to cast a female dwarf?

Besides that it's still a great movie. I do think the ending might have been a little more profound without the final voice-over, but it's still a very haunting sequence. For years after my first viewing the visual of the tiny Carey climbing through the window screen stayed with me! And the way everything that can go wrong does with Carey makes this an incredibly nail-biting, even depressing experience, but also ensures that the audience remains sympathetic towards him. For now, I have to applaud Matheson and the filmmakers for using such an unconventional ending. Matheson for envisioning it, and the filmmakers for choosing to stick with it. Thanks to their decision, this remains a film that will continue to challenge viewers for years to come.


Review by lonchaney20 from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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Feb 21 2017, 16:07
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