Friday, 18 June 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Man - an appreciation

I love movies. One reason I don’t post more often about them is that there are plenty of first-rate sites on the web already publishing reviews and background information. In any case it would kill the enjoyment I’d had watching a film to then have to churn out a synopsis. It would smack of homework unless I was paid.
But my biggest reservation about discussing films is the danger I’d write something that might deter you from watching the movie itself, say, by giving away the plot.
There is one film in my list of the ‘Movies I can watch again and again’ on the right of this page, however, that is so overlooked that I’m showing its closing minutes in the video clip below to promote it.
The final monologue in The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) to my mind is the finest piece of writing in any science fiction movie – and perhaps any other.
Richard Matheson adapted his novel for the screen but as this Wikipedia link about the film explains the monologue was added by its director Jack Arnold.
This is a rare instance, I believe, where knowing the ending does not detract from the story of Scott Carey - played by Grant Williams - who begins to shrink when exposed to a combination of radioactivity and a pesticide.
The film works on every level – Carey’s mental deterioration as he loses height and his redemption at the film’s finale – even the special effects. About the only tacky aspect of the whole enterprise is its title.
SPOILER WARNING: this video clip shows the last minutes of a movie classic.

3 comments:

  1. Demonstrating the problem with Wiki sites, you are unwittingly disseminating misinformation perpetrated by Jack Arnold, much as I respect his work. A close comparison between THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN and Matheson's novel (originally entitled simply THE SHRINKING MAN, but often reissued under the "tacky" Hollywood title) reveals that Scott Carey's closing narration not only appears in the novel, but also follows it almost verbatim. For further details, see my forthcoming book RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN.

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  2. Matthew,
    I bow to your greater knowledge. Good luck with the book 'Richard Matheson on Screen'. GC

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  3. It’s now tentatively set to be published in early October. Of course, you can always pre-order it. :-)

    http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-4216-4

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What do you think? GC