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American studios obviously believed two things: (1) that Godzilla could
be sold to American audiences, and (2) that American audiences wouldn't
watch the original Japanese version, and so a familiar American actor
would have to be added. The end result was the filming of many scenes
incorporating Raymond Burr as American newspaper reporter Steve Martin,
who just happened to be in Tokyo when Godzilla struck.
In all honesty, I haven't seen the Japanese original ("Gojira") and so I have no basis on which to compare the two versions, so "Godzilla: King Of The Monsters" has to be looked at on its own merits. Let's admit right off the top that it has a lot of weaknesses. The Burr scenes aren't edited in particularly well, there are some strange decisions about dubbing (sometimes the original scenes are left in, with Japanese language and all and a narration by Burr explaining what's happening and sometimes English is dubbed over the original Japanese, and there didn't seem to me to be any particular rhyme or reason for which decision was made to which scene), the special effects are primitive (but it was made in the 1950's), and the monster stretched credibility a bit (partly the costume, and partly that he was 400 feet tall - how would the link between Jurassic era land animals and sea animals be so big?) Having said that, unless your agenda is simply to bash Americans for Americanizing the movie, you also have to admit that it's not bad. The opening scene is marvellous, with Martin being rescued from a destroyed building and brought to a hospital on a stretcher. If you didn't know the story (and we do, so perhaps this loses its impact) you'd swear off the top that this is a movie about an atomic bomb attack. For all the above weaknesses, the movie's fun pretty much all the way through if not particularly scary, and the casting of Burr accomplished what the studios wanted - Godzilla became as much an American cult classic as a Japanese one.
The ending is a bit abrupt, and seemed pretty decisive, leaving me to puzzle where all the sequels came from, but overall, if not great this was still an enjoyable film, probably undeserving of some of the criticism it gets. 6/10
Godzilla is truly a legendary icon who has really stood the test of
time for more than fifty years. His first film back in 1954 was very
serious compared to most monster movies at the time. Most agree that
it's a typical story of a prehistoric creature mutated by radiation
rising up to challenge the world with his newfound power, but it's a
little more than that. How so? Everything seems to be taken seriously
by both filmmakers and the characters in the story. In this U.S.
version, dubbing is kept to a very minimum by the lead characters while
everyone else is speaking Japanese, which brings a small sense of
realism. Godzilla himself is taken seriously by the filmmakers because
while the primitive effects are obvious, his actions are like how a
real animal reacts to a certain situation like when he approaches the
electrical barrier and pauses to look at it curiously or when he snarls
at a ringing clock tower because he thinks it might be another animal.
He doesn't "attack" Tokyo just for the hell of it, he's just lashing
out at whatever attacked him. After Tokyo is destroyed, the scene where
the people mourn for the dead and dying truly moved me because the
"attack" was treated like an actual disaster. I truly respect that.
Tomoyuki Tanaka really knew how to tell a war related story (war films in Japan were illegal at the time) and make his dinosaur the biggest star (literally) in the world. Steve Martin(Raymond Burr) and Dr. Serizawa are among the best known human characters in the entire series. I give this movie little more credit than before because of how it was made and the angle it was going for. Long live the King!
Well it literally is a different animal from Ishirō Honda's seminal
1954 movie about the giant atomic lizard who wakes up in a bad mood.
Here the American version clips the atmosphere considerably (and the
running time), craftily edits Raymond Burr into Honda's movie and of
course removes the anti-American sentiment that once existed. Yet the
film did prove to be very popular with English speaking film fans and
further enhanced the growing appeal of all things Godzilla like.
As it is it's a decent enough film, especially if you have never seen Honda's original. For sure it's still creaky in that "man in rubber suit" way, but the iconic creature is still thrilling as it goes about its merry way destroying some carefully constructed model workings. The nuclear war heedings are still there and there's much fun to be had, intentional or otherwise. Its pale in comparison to the original, but it's not a stinker either. 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The American version, released in 1956, is shorter and based on Raymond Burr's character, Steve Martin, point of view. He gives a great performance and the film maintains its dark tone; to a degree that is. Much of the dialouge speaking of Godzilla's atomic origins and the atomic bomb itself are removed. Luckily Akira Ifukube's music isn't removed, which is one of his best. Unfortunately, "Godzilla Raids Again", "King Kong vs. Godzilla", and "Ghidorah: the Three-Headed Monster" all have some form of cutting to their original scores. Terry Morse, director of the American edits, used some clever moves to integrate Burr into the story and overall, Morse did good. The film may not compare to the original Honda vision, but it's still pretty good. I find it worth adding to any G-fan's, or classic sci-fi lover's collection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are a fan of Godzilla you will know that this movie stands apart any other Godzilla film. It's different in that there is so much more drama put into Godzillas actions and as a result can be taken more seriously. In almost every other movie he can run right over a building and we know nothing about the people inside it. Yet, this film encircles that very subject. I think this film was very much the "Cloverfeild" of its time. It's dark, scary, and even a little emotional. Godzilla has had quite a transformation in the last 50 years whether he is a child's hero, saving the world, or destroying it; he is a timeless classic.
This is the granddaddy of all the Japanese monster movies. It's and oldie ('56!) but a goodie! The Japanese have stirred up this bad boy and are they gonna pay! Godzilla goes on a rampage and stomps entire cities just plain ole FLAT! The SFX in this film are so dated that they're quite humorous now. The acting was never called good, but who cares when you have a huge T-Rex-ish monster on the loose? The Japanese military tries to stop Godzilla but to no avail! This is one that everyone who loves monster movies should OWN!
The abuse and destruction unleashed on this Japanese city Tokyo is nothing short of epic in stature. The city, through the various romps of the titular character, literally swirls in flames, buildings fall at amazing speed , and just about every human form of transportation is reduced to rubble. This is the setting for much of the film, Godzilla - King of the Monsters. Despite being nothing more than a film with a man in a rubber suit trashing a miniature Tokyo set, this first Godzilla has much going for it. It is well-paced, and the action is engrossing and climactic. I saw the Americanized version with Raymond Burr, and thought Burr did a fine job playing foreign correspondent Steve Martin. Burr really helps create and add tension in the film with his narration and through the events we see through his eyes. The Japanese actors are very good as is the direction. Really the only low-point of the film for me was the inept dubbing, particularly the Brooklyn accent given to one of the chief Japanese scientists. Quite a gem!
With the Japanese film industry making inroads in North American distribution it was only a matter of time before Gojira was purchased and reformatted to suit English speaking audiences. Joseph Levine and his partners hired Terry Morse to re-edit Gojira with new footage starring Raymond Burr. Approximately a half our of Gojira was trimmed to accommodate the extensive changes which watered down the anti-nuclear themes and personal relationships in favor of emphasizing the monster action. King of the Monsters is too important a film to dismiss as just one of the scores of similar movies playing to US drive-ins at the time. Like Gojira, it transcends it's flaws because of the sheer importance of what it was and would become. Without this English translation of Gojira it's unlikely Godzilla would have became the international pop culture sensation we know and love today.
**SPOILERS** An obvious Japanese version of "The Beast of 20,000
Fathoms" the movie "Godzilla" quickly overshadowed its predecessor and
has become one of he most popular monster movies of all times. With it
having at least a dozen sequels over the last 55 years after it's
initial release in 1954.
"Godzilla, King of the Monsters" is the Americanized version of the movie that has Raymond Burr as American reporter Steve Martin. As he film begins we see Martin recounting what he just lived through after Godzilla demolished the city of Tokyo leaving thousands of dead and wounded, like himself, in his wake. Just days before Martin landed in Tokyo on a stopover to his trip to Cairo Egypt never suspecting that he'll be reporting the biggest story of the 20th century.
It was during that time that a number of Japanese fishing boats and their crews were incinerated by rays of deadly radiation coming from the ocean floor. Together with his good friend Japan's top paleontologist the eminent Dr. Kyohei Yamane, Takashi Ahimura, Martin and a boatload of Japanese newsmen including Dr. Yamane's 22 year-old daughter Emiko, Momok Kochi, traveled to the out of the way Ito Island where one of the few surviving fishermen, of the radiation attacks, came from. It's on Oto Island where it's been reported by the local natives that a gigantic prehistoric monster has suddenly made an unexpected, after some 2 million years, and unwanted public appearance!
I didn't take long for the monster-Godzilla-to show his, or its, face proving beyond a doubt that he's in fact real not some made up legend by the Ito islanders. He later also does a number on the island leaving most of it in ruins! Out of the water and on to dry land Godzilla then attacks, under the cover of night, the bustling Japanese city of Tokyo which we soon find out was just a probing action on his part. Godzilla was testing out the city's defenses to find a weak spot for his later and far more devastating attack 24 hours, again under the cover of darkness, later. With nothing to stop it Godzilla turns the city of Tokyo into a hell on earth causing more damage to it then even the great fire bombings of Tokyo in March 1945 by Gen. LaMay's fleet of B-29 bombers.
***MAJOR SPOILERS*** Steve Martin who had witnessed the destruction of the city from his hotel window ended up buried under the rubble barely surviving the carnage. Martin is later responsible in getting the ball rolling in Godzilla's destruction through Emiko's hand picked, by her and his parents, future husband top Japanese scientist Dr. Daiskuke "Eyepatch" Serizawa. It was Dr. Serizawa who was Martin's good friend and collage classmate, despite a ten year age difference, who knew about his underwater experiments that in the end lead to Godzilla's demise. It was the romantic triangle between Dr. Serizawa and Emiko's new love Japanese Japanese Navy sailor Ogata, Akira Takerada, whom she met and fell in love with on her and Steve Martins trip to Oto Island that was the reason the he in the end used his secret oxygen destroyer capsule, that he swore Emiko to secrecy, to do in the raging prehistoric beast. A life long pacifist Dr. Serizawa now with his love Emiko leaving him for Ogata felt that the only thing in life left for him to do is do in Godzilla before he destroys the Japanese Islands and the tens of millions of people living on them.
***MAJOR MAJOR SPOILER*** In the ultimate act of self sacrifice Dr. Serizawa in keeping the secret of the deadly oxygen destroyer from the world at large and out of the hands of any nation, like the US & USSR, who'll use it for military purposes takes that secret to his watery grave together with Godzilla whom it ends up destroying!
P.S One thing about the movie "Godzilla" that really stands out is the first class, very rare in a monster film, acting by those in it. The love triangle between Emiko Ogata and Dr. Serizawa was so well done and heart-fully convincing that it in fact overshadowed the main theme in the movie; A 400 foot prehistoric monster on the loose in a major 20th century metropolis: Tokyo Japan. It's that Academy Award caliber acting that raised the film heads and shoulders above the many 1950's monster film, in the US and abroad, that it competed with at the time!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters starring Raymond Burr is a completely different work than the original Gojira. In the American version many references of the Nuclear Test have been muted and almost non-exsitent. While the Japanese version has many cautions about the plight of Nuclear war. Perhaps that decision was politically manipulated for the American Audience or it could be for the fact that the American producers wanted bottom-line cash and hook even if it meant making Godzilla: King of the Monsters no deeper than the flying saucer. All in all This movie is good for a laugh, but if your looking for a deep and haunting tale then opt for the original Gojira which has just recently been released of DVD by Classic Media.
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