Classic movie site with rare images, original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
Search Index Here

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Where It Comes Down To Three Frames

 The Incredible Shrinking Man Just Kept On Shrinking

Movie moments that linger a lifetime can swell up with memory so that what you thought you saw goes way past what was actually there. Remember fourth grade classmate Tony Gentry who told me a lion in Black Zoo bit a man’s head off on camera, or the Lowe boys next door who swore Natalie Wood danced stark naked in Gypsy? Maybe they were joshing, or likelier trusted their recall, plus what imaginations implanted, because that’s how powerful a film impression can be. These boys saw back on a sensation the way they wanted to, and isn’t that how fond memory works across the board, not just from movies but all of life? Gloried experience is enhanced each time we glory in it, reality having parted and gone its useless way. Cue then The Incredible Shrinking Man, which I knew first on a Liberty combo with Jack the Giant Killer in July 1964. This may have been where movie madness was truly baked in, nothing to take priority over screens again. Especially chiller or fantastic stuff. I babbled over Shrinking Man in 2006, focus in part on a contest between Scott Carey (Grant Williams) and a tarantula, from which but one could walk away. Dollops of blood were spilled, or were they? I said emphatic yes to pint-size peers who would listen, and believed myself it was so. The Incredible Shrinking Man from 1957 being back for but one day in 1964 was cushion against my being doubted, so recount could get as gory as I chose.

My Blood-Soaked Recall of Shrinking Man Helped In Part By Scott's Dripping Clothes

Still, one must come to terms with truth. Do I want to die deluded as to spillage Scott drew from the belly of the beast? Readers responded to the ’06 reflection, several specific as to what they saw in 1957 or after. Was there a way to determine if The Incredible Shrinking Man was trimmed at some point? An obvious freeze-frame occurs at the moment of tarantula truth that was not there before, this a Shrinking Man status since home video first made it available. Fans have noted the anomaly, some inquiring to Universal, but getting no response. Question to burn within me was how much? --- as in footage removed. Findings indicate mere frames, three in fact as I calculate it. Am I nuts for caring? Why don’t I just rake leaves, or help out at the animal shelter? Long as we’re here however, might as well detail the Shrinking saga as lately lived, with valued and considerable input from lifelong collector/historian Todd Feiertag, with whom the topic came up quite by chance during e-mail ping pong regarding a couple of Harold Lloyd lobby cards. Todd and I are acquainted since halcyon days of paper pursuit and shows attendant. He has been in the game for 57 years, a record setter on several occasions for price realized on posters. Turns out he also has film, as in 35mm, as in two 35mm prints of The Incredible Shrinking Man, both generated in 1956 for early 1957 release. Todd volunteered to examine the relevant reel and determine what might be presently missing from the spider scrap, tarantula tilt, however we choose to designate it.

Here and Below from the DVD and HD Stream Are Freeze-Frames Just Before a Last Spider Close-Up

Re the Shrinking Man reissue in 1964 that I saw, could new prints have been generated at that time? Todd thought not. He suspects those still usable from 1957 were put back in service. I wondered how the Liberty could ’64-score not only The Incredible Shrinking Man, but Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis, and The Mole People, all of which I saw within a month’s enclosure. Trades from the period reference a company called Ultra Film Distributors, Inc., which was set up by Budd Rogers, a longtime Universal employee, who by the early 60's was an independent distributor. His partner was Sherman Krellberg, who had handled, among many properties, a brought-back White Zombie during the 40's and 50's. The partners formed Ultra in 1962, and sub-licensed from Universal a number of titles, ones I saw, as well as This Island Earth, Monster On The Campus, others. Ultra also handled exploitable imports Two Nights With Cleopatra, Fatal Desire, Rice Girl, etc. Don’t know how long it was before Ultra folded. The Incredible Shrinking Man made its way to television in 2-65. Prints for that purpose on 16mm were complete based on two I had over collector years. It was only with coming of home video that critical frames went missing.

From the Complete Universal 8mm Scene of Scott Screwing In The Nail To Do In The Spider

So how critical, really? And as to a mere three frames, so what?, being but the wink of an eye. Truth is, that’s a long wink. Any print where I had to clip off three frames to make a splice was walking wounded from there. I would dread the jump forever after, and feel my audience distract each time that reel unspooled. Digital has of course ridded us of such incubus. So why did Universal freeze action at its most decisive point? Todd Feiertag sent the capture at right of frames from his 1956 35mm print that are missing from circulating versions of The Incredible Shrinking Man. I examined these, compared them with what we presently have available, and it appears that Universal froze just prior to Scott’s gesture in turning the nail he thrusts into the spider, in effect screwing it in further to assure the kill. Maybe for home video purposes, Universal felt the moment was too explicit. A pity, for here was a kicker to weld action deep in our heads. So far as I can determine, a last time we got it intact was when “Universal 8” (as in 8mm) issued a seventeen-minute abridgement of The Incredible Shrinking Man for home collectors. This was during the seventies. After that, the footage went truant. Universal has not so far released The Incredible Shrinking Man on Blu-Ray, although there have been Region Two discs. I understand from buyers that these are also incomplete re the spider scene. Kino, Shout, Scream, or whoever, could license The Incredible Shrinking Man from Universal, put the missing frames back in, and promote a “first time in forty plus years” complete version. We'd then know finally and for sure what we really saw through a child mind’s eye back when The Incredible Shrinking Man had its most vivid impact.

Many Thanks to Todd Feiertag for making this column possible.


Blogger Dennis69 said...

The new Peacock streaming network has this in their classic movies section for free. Don’t now which version it is.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Ruegger said...

Love the great detective work! Thank you!

9:31 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Thanks. Universal got their money's worth with director Jack Arnold.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

That's why I love Greenbriar. Nowhere else can a discussion Harold Lloyd lobby cards lead to an investigation of a quarter-second loss in The Incredible Shrinking Man! Speaking as a movie fan, that's way more important than raking leaves.

4:41 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Get a load of that mutant spider on the Italian poster, with 12 legs... and pincers!

The scene in question certainly gave me the willies as a kid, seeing it on TV. But I don't recall seeing any blood.

"To God there is no zero... I still exist!" Bosley Crowther objected to that closing line for some reason.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

The media mostly always picks people who know nothing about what they are criticizing. They feel that reflects the average person. The average person assumes the critics know the subject. Most don't. Learned that long ago. Their opinions are those of the uninformed. They should be ignored. That is a great closing line.

9:07 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

From Dan Mercer:

I could imagine a dialog on the Universal-International lot going something like this:

Albert Zugsmith: So, Jack, what’s this [bleep] about three frames?

Jack Arnold: It’s an homage to Abel Gance, Al.

Al: A [bleeping] what? To who?

Jack: Abel Gance. The French director who did “Napoleon.”

Al: “Napoleon”? The one with Brando? That flopped?

Jack: No, that was “Desiree,” with Koster.

Al: So, what about the three frames?

Jack: Gance did that kind of micro-editing, and he was a master. I wanted to
show my appreciation.

Al: Who’s going to notice three frames?

Jack: Well, very impressionable children will.

Al: Oh, great! The guy is nailing the spider. So, we want crying kiddies going to their moms and dads? And the Legion of Decency taking another look at
it? C’mon.

Jack: Any kid noticing it would already dig that kind of stuff.

Al: Well, I say it’s [bleep] and I say it’s out.

Jack: Okay, but we’ve already shipped 550 prints. You want to tell the exchanges to clip three frames? Think they’ll get it right? Good luck with that.

Al: [fuming]

Jack: Huh?

Al: So, all right. But you pull this [bleep] again and you’ll be doing giant insect pictures forever.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Filmfanman said...

"...and you'll be doing giant insect pictures forever" - as if that would be something bad!

9:31 AM  
Blogger A A Boyd said...

If it’s only three frames we’re talking about here... perhaps the master picture element / cut camera negative was damaged at the splice to the following shot, a couple of frames got lost, and so they froze the last intact frame of that shot in order to maintain sync with the separate master sound element?

2:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017
  • December 2017
  • January 2018
  • February 2018
  • March 2018
  • April 2018
  • May 2018
  • June 2018
  • July 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • March 2019
  • April 2019
  • May 2019
  • June 2019
  • July 2019
  • August 2019
  • September 2019
  • October 2019
  • November 2019
  • December 2019
  • January 2020
  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020
  • June 2020
  • July 2020
  • August 2020
  • September 2020
  • October 2020
  • November 2020
  • December 2020
  • January 2021
  • February 2021
  • March 2021
  • April 2021
  • May 2021
  • June 2021
  • July 2021
  • August 2021
  • September 2021
  • October 2021
  • November 2021
  • December 2021
  • January 2022
  • February 2022
  • March 2022
  • April 2022
  • May 2022
  • June 2022
  • July 2022
  • August 2022
  • September 2022
  • October 2022
  • November 2022
  • December 2022
  • January 2023
  • February 2023
  • March 2023
  • April 2023
  • May 2023