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.