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The Incredible Shrinking Man
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Incredible Shrinking Man More at IMDbPro »

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93 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

Transcendental

10/10
Author: LomzaLady from United States
19 October 2005

The best sci/fi movie of the 50s. It's different from most others in that it has a theme; it's not just a series of scary and threatening events. The smaller Scott Carey gets, the braver and more resourceful he becomes. As he shrinks, he reaches a kind of spiritual enlightenment.

The only sour note (besides the special effects, which may seem primitive by today's digital standards, but which I, as an 8-year-old in 1957, seeing this for the first time, thought were astounding) is the scene with the Little People. The metaphor of "you are as big as you feel" is laid on pretty thick, and that particular set of special effects (especially that big coffee cup Clarice drinks out of) didn't fool me, even as an 8-year-old. Incidentally, up until recently, TV showings of this movie usually cut that scene out, although the names of the actors who played the Little People were left in the end of movie credits.

However, the point is well taken, and Scott realizes that as his physical size decreases, his mental and spiritual powers are increasing. The final scenes are a testament to Transcendentalism. For example, Scott says in the narration that he no longer hates the spider who has been threatening him during his imprisonment in the cellar. He understands that it has as much right to survive as he has. In Transcendental terms, he is saying that existence is neither good nor evil, it simply "is." (Do people in California really have tarantulas in their cellars?) The wonderful last scene, where Scott (the absolutely gorgeous Grant Williams), bruised, battered, exhausted, looks up at the heavens and is no longer afraid, is one of the most empowering scenes in all cinema. This man has been so beaten down by fate that he is literally disappearing, and yet he affirms existence, and resolutely continues to move forward to whatever that next plane of existence may be. This ending is a far cry from the usual finales of sci/fi films of the 50s, where destruction is generally the resolution of the crisis. Here, there is no destruction, only transcendence. I never get tired of this film.

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75 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Incredible indeed.

9/10
Author: dbdumonteil
17 April 2002

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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61 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) ***

7/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
9 July 2005

I finally caught up with Jack Arnold's most highly-regarded piece of science fiction, and I have to say that I agree it's his most accomplished work.

True, the plot isn't terribly original (how about THE DEVIL-DOLL [1936], which I watched again right after, and DR. CYCLOPS [1940], for starters, not to mention the 'little people' of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1935]?) but none of the others quite touched upon the psychology of its admittedly fantastic situation, let alone treat it with such intelligence, sensitivity and, ultimately, persuasion. Legendary author Richard Matheson is to be congratulated for his truly excellent script, as should be Arnold for putting his ideas on the screen with such vividness and imagination. Special mention must go too to Grant Williams for his fine performance; Jack Arnold seemed to think it was worthy of an Oscar and I can't say I disagree!

It was interesting to see that the title character's peculiar affliction effected him gradually and not all at once; the fact that this was caused by exposure to radiation must have struck a note of panic amid contemporary anxiety-ridden audiences (this was the Cold War era, after all) and, in any case, it was inevitable that such 'monstrous' radiation effects (as seen mutating various forms of animal life on the screens of 1950s America) would not spare man himself in the long run. An episode featuring sideshow midgets, with whom The Shrinking Man seems to identify for a little while, is quite moving - as is his jealous possessiveness of his wife who he suspects wants to abandon him.

Despite the low budget, the film's special effects are terrific and the second half of the story basically resolves itself into a struggle for survival for our unfortunate hero as he has to battle various elements (the family cat, a spider, water, the re-dimension of objects around him, his own weakness due to hunger) which a normal person would more or less take for granted.

I thoroughly enjoyed THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN - though I must say that Matheson's bleak yet strangely affecting ending blew me away, giving the film an intellectual resonance lacking in most films of its type and period.

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63 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Thoughtful Sci-Fi

9/10
Author: Matthew Ignoffo (mermatt@webtv.net) from Eatontown, NJ, USA
7 March 2001

Instead of the typical blood and gore screaming sensationalism of many 1950s sci-fi films, this is an amazingly well thought-out film that is underplayed and even philosophical.

There are some amusing moments in the film, such as when we discover Scott in a dollhouse, but much of the story is handled seriously -- the topics of being different, surviving in an unsympathetic world, crass commercialism, and loneliness are well portrayed.

The theme of the film is what is really amazing. Despite the rather schlocky title, we are given a view of humanity's place in the universe. The final sequence is an imaginative portrait of the balance between the macrocosm and the microcosm.

The film is more than it first appears. Definitely see this one.

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59 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

A Sci-Fi film with a good script. Who could believe it?

8/10
Author: Sherlock Jr. from USA
20 September 2000

This is more than a Sci-Fi film, this is really a good movie. On the Sci-Fi side, the effects are mostly good. But the script is great, one of the greatest for a Sci-Fi film. And I love the last line, "To God, there is no zero." Sure it's a movie about a guy who shrinks, but it can be related to any person. As for the time it was made in, it blows just about every other sci-fi/horror made in the 50's to pieces with the exception of a few films. A must see for a fan of 50's sci-fi and a must see for any fan of good writing. I give it an 8 out of 10

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44 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

My favorite '50s sci fi movie

10/10
Author: Andy King (andyman618) from North Carolina
24 August 2003

This has always been one of my favorite science fiction/horror movies from the 1950s.

This is an existential science fiction movie. Man alone against the universe is always a powerful topic, and writer Richard Matheson, who adapted his own novel for the screen, does an admirable job. Grant Williams' character isn't fighting aliens or demons, but rather the extraordinary circumstance of his mysterious shrinking, and the unforeseen consequences of his ever-dwindling size.

I love the fight with the spider, but my favorite part of the movie is the final monologue. It adds another half a star to an already extraordinary film.

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49 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Best Eisenhower Era Science Fiction Films

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
5 January 2000

This is the tale of the very cruel joke played upon a young man by Fate. Against horrifying odds he triumphs and retains his dignity. In so doing, this film is raised from being a merely superior monster movie to one of strangely spiritual significance.

The special effects are still pleasing and the tarantula remains one of Cinema's truly terrifying embodiments of mindless evil.

This was to be Grant William's finest film. He died in 1985 at the age of only 54.

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52 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

To lose everything

Author: Oct (wjphillips@clara.co.uk) from London, England
5 June 2004

It is a truism that America in the 1950s was a conformist, cowed kind of country. Social criticism was suspect, potentially un-American. Hollywood had to convey its messages in the guise of sci-fi or historical analogy.

This spare, cheap, black-and-white film, starring unknowns, has the ruthless, unswerving narrative drive of an arrow into a bullseye. No subplots, no diversions: nothing but the examination of what it is like to lose *everything*, to be stripped not only of the material consolations of conformity but the emotional insulation of marriage and friendship.

"Shrinking"-- the MacGuffin of a nuclear cloud means nothing-- is a visual metaphor for exile and disillusionment. The hero becomes an outcast by becoming progressively more freakish until he is invisible, or at any rate irretrievable. Yet every stage of deprivation has its consolations. Once he falls through the floor, he escapes the attentions of the pruriently curious and the need to pay his way by performing for them; and although at first the grille in the cellar is like the barred window of a prison, shrinking further means he can squeeze through and leave the fearsome cat trapped behind.

All this is very American in its qualified optimism, and very characteristic of Richard Matheson's imagination as one of the great popular mythmakers of mid-century. Not for him the easy slither into plastic angst. Scott Carey's reversion to the primitive-- long hair, needle-sword, ragged robes-- mocks his former status but also looks forward to the hippie protagonists who would soon reject social norms and carve out their own psychic territory. Carey's resourcefulness and refusal to be daunted are the qualities of a pioneer.

One incident sums up Matheson's brilliant integration of narrative detail and philosophical meaning. After being diagnosed, Carey and his wife swear they will stay true to each other, come what may. He leans forward to start the car and the wedding ring rolls off his finger. It sounds like a lumberingly "symbolic" moment, something out of Iris Murdoch... only it isn't. His finger has shrunk, and shrinking is what the movie is all about. Accept the premise, and all that flows out of it fits it.

"The Incredible Shrinking Man" is an adventure story and a fable about how little it takes to stay alive, seamlessly sewn together. It is one of the works that put Matheson (and Rod Serling) up with Wells, Verne and Conan Doyle. Literary professors now give the Europeans serious attention. When will the American dream-weavers get their due?

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32 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

An Unbeatable Sci-Fi Classic!

8/10
Author: hokeybutt from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
14 May 2005

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (4 outta 5 stars) Not many of those hokey-looking old sci-fi movies from the '50s are still as effective 50 years later... but this one definitely hasn't lost any of its power. Great script written by Richard Matheson, who later went on to do much good work for "The Twilight Zone" and even today is still producing scripts for such films as "Stir of Echoes" and "What Dreams May Come". The story is fairly simple- after passing through a mysterious cloud on the ocean, our hero Scott (Grant Williams) discovers that his clothes seem to start feeling looser. More time passes and he discovers that he is now shorter than his wife. Day after day, he becomes smaller and smaller until he becomes so small that an ordinary housecat becomes a terrifying threat to his very life. The special effects might seem unconvincing to modern eyes... but the otherwise high-quality of the editing and direction make the action scenes as effective and suspenseful as anything you likely to see spewed out by today's CGI factories. I was totally unprepared for the ending of this film... you'd never see a movie end this way nowadays... but you never too many of them end this way back in the '50s either! A classic!

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35 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Horrifyingly inevitable sci-fi with imaginative touches gracing a cheap production…

7/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
30 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The plot is simple: after being exposed to a mysterious, possibly radioactive mist, a man finds he is slowly but inexorably diminishing in size… His pride, job, marriage and, finally, his very life are threatened as his relation to the world about him changes daily… A cellar floor becomes a stark desert where giant insects hunt prey and the only food consists of rock-like crumbs of stale cheese left in mousetraps…

Arnold's expert use of huge sets and props provides excitement, but it is the philosophical script that supplies its rare power: complacent modern man, forced back on his primitive wits simply to survive, finally discovers hope, peace and meaning in the realization that everything in the cosmos, however small or insignificant, has its own place and worth…

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