Scott Carey and his wife Louise are sunning themselves on their cabin cruiser, the small craft adrift on a calm sea. While his wife is below deck, a low mist passes over him. Scott, lying in the sun, is sprinkled with glittery particles that quickly evaporate. Later he is accidentally sprayed with an insecticide while driving and, in the next few days, he finds that he has begun to shrink. First just a few inches, so that his clothes no longer fit, then a little more. Soon he is only three feet tall, and a national curiosity. At six inches tall he can only live in a doll's house and even that becomes impossible when his cat breaks in. Scott flees to the cellar, his wife thinks he has been eaten by the cat and the door to the cellar is closed, trapping him in the littered room where, menaced by a giant spider, he struggles to survive.Written by
Richard Matheson's book was written as a series of flashbacks so that you got into the cellar with Scott quickly. Universal insisted on a linear story. They also vetoed key sequences, such as Scott spending the night with the female midget, a drunk homosexual who abuses Scott, a gang of teenagers who terrorise him, and Scott becoming a Peeping Tom secretly spying on a teenage girl baby-sitter. These were obviously rejected as too risqué for 1957! See more »
As Scott is watching the fog approach, his hairstyle changes between shots. See more »
The cellar stretched before me like some vast primeval plain, empty of life, littered with the relics of a vanished race. No desert island castaway ever faced so bleak a prospect.
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When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'A' rating. All cuts were waived in 2006 when the film was re-rated with a 'PG' certificate for home video. Note: The running time on the BBFC website for the 1957 theatrical release mentions a run time of 91 minutes 48 seconds with an indication this is the submitted run time prior to any cuts. It is not clear if this was a longer version of the film which is widely known to run just 81 minutes (77 minutes on PAL media). See more »
Along with "invasion of the body snatchers"(1956) "forbidden planet"(1956) and "the fly" (1958),the best movie sci-fi offered in the fifties.
Richard Matheson's remarkable novel was adapted by himself,thus the movie is an accurate rendition.Differences are kept to the minimum,and are probably due to censorship:one character,the pedophile,who wants to take the hero to his home has been removed and the relationship with Clarice remains platonic.Besides,Matheson focuses here on the second part of his novel,which takes place in the basement.
The special effects are absolutely stunning for the time ,but what's the most extraordinary is that they take a back seat to the hero's frames of mind:the voice-over is never redundant and Matheson's brilliant lines,a thousand miles above the B-movie level,perfectly convey his hero's plight."Arachnophobia"(1990),with a much more comfortable budget pales into insignificance when you've seen Grant Williams'fight with the spider.The doll house,the scenes with the midgets,the metaphysical final are as awesome today as they were half a century ago.Do not miss the cast and credits at the beginning either. During its second half,except for the voice-over,the movie is almost silent and Jack Arnold sustains the interest with only one character.
With its inexorable progression -the hero slowly becoming on his own-,its first-class screenplay and a fine direction by Jack Arnold,who could ask for a remake? This movie and the three I mention above are genuine classics,they have in common fears hidden in collective unconscious.
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