Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN

















THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957). Director: Jack Arnold.

"So close -- the infinitesimal and the infinite."

Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is on a boat with his wife when he passes through a strange mist and discovers days later that he's losing height and mass. After many tests it is determined that a series of freak events have made him start to shrink. Before long he's the size of a circus midget, and the second half of the film details his struggles to survive alone in his cellar [his wife mistakenly believes him to be dead] when he's only a couple of inches high. Although some of the process shots are slightly quivery, the FX and props are still outstanding, and the picture has many excellent sequences: Carey on the run from a house cat; caught in a basement flood and hanging on to a pencil for dear life; and especially his climactic battle on a ledge with a large black spider that wants to have him for dinner. The music was cobbled together from several composers but the spider seems to have its own theme. Grant Williams, generally a bland leading man, doesn't do a bad job as Carey, and Randy Stuart successfully etches a warm, loving portrait of Louise, Carey's concerned and horrified wife; she was primarily a television actress. The ending is sentimental, to say the least, but effective on its own terms. Based on "The Shrinking Man," by Richard Matheson, who also did the screenplay. While I believe the novel went back and forth somewhat clumsily between Carey's predicament in the cellar and flashbacks telling his story, the movie wisely tells the story in chronological order.

Verdict: A certified classic. ***1/2.

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