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Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Monster Cracks a Million For Katzman/Columbia


Ray Harryhausen Animates It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955)


Cleveland's Hippodrome Gets It First,
Then The Combo Fans Out Across Ohio
Still of that window when real money could be made on oversized creatures, this came from beneath a Sam Katzman budget to $1.1 million in domestic rentals (compare with less-than-half $464K earned by SK's The Giant Claw two years later). I'm of philosophy that giant octopi look better when you see all of what they've got, not just doled-out tentacles as here. Ray Harryhausen's beast drags his through Frisco and over pedestrians insufficiently fleet to avert lethal reach. We'd like a whole of the monster to come ashore and wrap around skyscrapers, but this being a Clover Production (Katzman's company) assures it won't. Still wish to have been old enough for ICFBTS in 1955, as elder anecdotes suggest it was a treat, and Harryhausen did work miracles with limited resource he had. What we see of the monster looks great (Ray said later that Katzman wouldn't let him have enough tentacles, let alone the whole of his proposed octopus). Considering labor Ray applied toward his creation, plus prevail over Clover penury, results are truly remarkable and testament to Harryhausen genius. Warners' Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (done also by him) certainly left tracks, It Came being all but a photocopy. So how else are giant monsters dealt with? You sight one, study it from afar, endure a final reel assault, then put it down like a froth-mouthed dog. 50's colossals would ultimately be such strays sent to the pound.

6 Comments:

Blogger Joe Thompson said...

I always enjoy reading your posts, John, but I would like to point out, as a native of San Francisco, that the creature is not wrapped around a skyscraper, but rather around the tower of the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. I recently read an article about how filmmakers enjoy destroying San Francisco.

12:56 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Glad to hear from a San Francisco native, Joe. My regret for Beneath's octopus was the fact it didn't venture further into town so as to wrap around skyscrapers --- which raises a question, of course, as to selection of skyscrapers SF had in 1955 ...

6:28 AM  
Blogger Joe Thompson said...

I figure the poor octopus was self-conscious because he only had six arms, so he stayed in the water ;0). At the time the movie was made, San Francisco had a several skyscrapers built before the Great Depression. The tallest was the 32-story Russ Building. Because of the Depression and the war, no news ones were built until the Crown-Zellerbach Building was finished in 1959.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Len Power said...

This movie is memorable to me for NOT seeing it in 1955. At age 5, I waged a calculated terrorist campaign of pleading and then tears and rage to see 'It Came From Beneath The Sea' instead of the nice movie Grandma had chosen for our outing. At the top of the street from the railway station was Adelaide, South Australia's old Civic Theatre with an enormous advertisement for the film above the marquee showing the octopus tearing the Ferry Building apart. Naturally, my whole life at that moment depended on seeing that film. Anyway, my campaign didn't work. It's memorable as the one and only time my grandmother hit me! I didn't see the movie until it turned up on TV many years later. I have to say that it wasn't really worth upsetting Grandma over....

3:06 AM  
Blogger tbonemankini said...

Saw a 16mm of this at the NCO Club George AFB in a side room probably around 1960/61...first time I think I was aware I was watching a movie rather than just a disconnected series of things on TV,over which I had no control....

10:46 AM  
Blogger tbonemankini said...

Watched it again about a month ago, this time focusing on the love triangle aspect which is curiously underplayed....kudos to the writers for NOT killing off one of the young bucks but that last scene has a bit of a weird vibe....will she even bother to choose?....

10:52 AM  

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