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Dr. Cyclops (1940)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Horror | 12 April 1940 (USA)
1:59 | Trailer

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A mad scientist working in the South American jungle miniaturizes his colleagues when he feels his megalomania is threatened.


(original screen play)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Thomas Coley ...
Victor Kilian ...
Frank Yaconelli ...


Four explorers are summoned to Peru by the brilliant physicist Dr Thorkel. They discover a rich source of radium and a half-mad Thorkel who shrinks them down to one-fifth their normal size when they threaten to stop his unorthodox experimentation. Written by Steve Hill <shill@harper.cc.il.us>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The thrill of the year! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 April 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Doctor Cyclops  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Seattle 3 February 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), and it soon became a popular local favorite as it was initially aired in Milwaukee 11 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Pittsburgh Wednesday 6 May 1959 on KDKA (Channel 2), in Phoenix 15 June 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Chicago 5 October 1959 on WBBM, in Minneapolis 25 October on WTCN (Channel 11), in Toledo 1 November 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), in Detroit 11 November 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Philadelphia 12 November 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), in San Francisco 14 November 1959 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Johnstown 23 November 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), and finally in New York City 6 April 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. in more recent years, it has enjoyed occasional outings on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies and was released on DVD 15 November 2016 as part of the Universal Vault Series. See more »


At the end, the remaining three survivors all agree to not reveal to anyone what happened at Thorkel's lab. Bullfinch was a renowned scientist whom Thorkel murdered in cold blood, not to mention the fact he also murdered Pedro. Sure, probably no one will wonder about Pedro, but won't people ask about Bullfinch's disappearance? See more »


Dr. Rupert Bulfinch: I am a biologist!
Steve Baker: [Dismissively] Sure! A bug doctor!
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Crazy Credits

The Paramount logo has a flashing green mist over it just before the main titles (which also have it). See more »


Referenced in The Flesh Eaters (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

Little People
15 May 2002 | by See all my reviews

This is a peculiar film to have come out of any studio in 1940, much less the stylish Paramount. Since the same year saw the equally bizarre Hal Roach production, One Million, B.C., it might not be unreasonable to assume that there was either something in the water that made them do it or else the studio chiefs were smoking weed that year. Produced and directed by the King Kong team of Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, Dr. Cyclops is a far cry from their earlier, vastly superior work, yet it's still worth seeing. The jungle, probably a backlot job, is marvelously rendered, and the Technicolor photography is as beautiful as any I've seen. There's a vividness to the color that makes it jump out at you that's almost psychedelic.

This is basically a mad scientist tale with a gimmick, which is the eponymous doctor's ability to shrink people to the size of elves. Much of the action revolves around the little people's attempts to elude the mad doctor and escape from his jungle laboratory. The movie feels more like a product of the fifties than the early forties, as this theme would be returned to again in later science fiction. It's also a tough movie to categorize, as it's not quite horror or pure sci-fi. Like Kong Kong, it's an action movie and technical tour de force that takes quite a few liberties with nature.

As an oddball experiment the movie works, up to a point, though it could have used more humor and irony; and the pace is less than thrilling. It's hard to pull this sort off of story on a good day, as the improbable material needs all the help it can get. Alas, aside from the stunning color and imaginative sets, it doesn't get much here. Most of the actors in the film are unknowns and would remain unknown, though prissy character actor Charles Halton has a decent role as one of the "shrunken", which he plays well. The most impressive performer is also the lead player, Albert Dekker, whose life and movie career were almost as strange as this film. He is both believable and intimidating as the mad doctor, and gives the movie a touch of class.

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