The Giant Claw (1957)
Global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture.
When electronics engineer Mitch MacAfee spots a UFO as "big as a battleship," from his plane, the Air Force scrambles planes to investigate. However, nothing shows up on radar, and one of the jets is lost during the action. MacAfee is regarded as a dangerous crackpot until other incidents and disappearances convince the authorities that the threat is real. Some believe it is a French-Canadian folk legend come to life, but it turns out to be an extraterrestrial giant bird composed of anti-matter whose disregard for human life and architecture threatens the world.
When Mitch MacAfee reports seeing a giant UFO flying at supersonic speeds, he is called on the carpet by the local air force commander for a prank. Their radar didn't pick up anything and his story is just too preposterous to be believed. Slowly at first then in a flood, sightings of a giant bird are reported. With an anti-matter shield, the creature seems invincible. Finding a way to penetrate the shield is their only hope.
The Giant Claw is about a "flying battleship" terrorizing the world's skies. First discovered by an electrical engineer in the North Pole, the action picks up quickly with the monster attacking an Air Force and a Navy fighter plane. After a stopover in Quebec where a French Canadian, Pierre, notices what he calls "la carcagne", the audience finally gets a close up of the monster in all it's hilarious marionette glory. The "flying battleship" is actually an extraterrestrial bird of enormous size with an anti-gravity shield protecting it from all earthly weaponry. After the electrical engineer discovers that the bird can be stopped with the use of a "mu particle", and the UN building is destroyed, the monster is destroyed and sinks into the ocean below.
- The movie starts with title and credits running over a giant bird's claw. The first scene is a globe circling in a cloudy mist and narration about man's technology allowing faster travel and RADAR needed for protection. We are told new radar installations must be calibrated by flying controlled test flights. In just such an installation, a radar officer (Morgan Jones) and Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday) are technical ground crew for a calibration test. Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow) is the pilot flying a precision course, speed and altitude so the ground staff can do their calibration. Mitch asks if the Mathematician, Sally, has enough data to complete things. Sally wants one more run. As Mitch repositions his aircraft, he does a low buzz over the building upsetting Sally. The narrator tells us Mitch sees, "Something that was almost the beginning of the end of life on this Earth." A large dark shape crosses his path. He reports it immediately. The radar officer reports nothing on the scope. MacAfee claims something as big as a battleship flew past him at incredible speed. An alert was sounded to scramble interceptor jets from the Air Force Base.
When Mitch gets back to base he inquires about the UFO he reported. Major Bergen (Clark Howat) is very unhappy. He tells Mitch if he were in the service hed have him locked up, but since hes a civilian he intends to report this to MacAfee's superiors. Bergen thinks the whole thing is a bad joke gone horribly wrong, as one of the interceptor jets did not return to base. He tells Mitch, "Plane and pilot both are missing." Bergen gets a phone call. MacAfee reiterates it was not a joke or a false alarm. The call was about a Transpolar Airlines plane reported overdue and missing. It had sixty passengers and a full crew aboard. The last call from the pilot was reporting a UFO. Sally and MacAfee take their arranged military transport to New York.
Mitch and Sally are trying to work on their notes in the back of the airplane. The flight is experiencing turbulence. The pilot, Pete (Frank Griffin) tells Mitch he will climb over the bad weather over the Adirondack Mountains. He gets permission to climb to 12,000 feet. They are they are now in clear skies. Sally and Mitch continue their work in back. Pete sees a huge gray shape pass him. He calls Mitch back up front to tell him about the UFO. He thinks it might have been a cloud. The plane is jarred, like severe turbulence, and then it happens again. Sally is knocked to the cabin floor and Pete slams his head into the controls. Mitch takes over with one engine on fire. He crash lands in an open field. Mitch carries Pete outside with Sally right behind. They clear the wreckage as the airplane explodes. Flaming wreckage lands around them. Pete dies of his injuries. Pierre Broussard (Louis D. Merrill) witnesses the crash and calls out for survivors. He responds to Sally and Mitch and helps them to his cabin. He gives each of them a glass of homemade applejack while they wait for the authorities.
A constable comes to the cabin that evening to take Pete's body. He's made arrangements for them to fly a commercial flight on to New York. He tells them a car will arrive soon to collect them. The phone rings. It is for Mitch. General Van Buskirk (Robert Shayne) wants to speak to him. He tells Mitch the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Air Force will investigate the crash. Mitch tells Sally what the General told him, "When we get to New York, were to keep ourselves available for questioning." There is a disturbance outside with the horse and dog. Pierre goes outside to investigate. He screams. Mitch and Sally step outside the cabin and find Pierre on the ground. He is stunned. They take him back inside and put him on the couch. He mumbles, "Carcagne. It was the carcagne. I saw her." Sally remembers the legend or superstition. The police arrive and Pierre tells them about what he saw. They came to collect Mitch and Sally. The policeman tells Mitch and Sally that if you see the big bird, it is a death omen. Pierre is hysterical and sobbing when they depart, leaving him in the care of one of the police officers.
Mitch and Sally are flying to New York City. It is a night flight. Mitch tries to kiss her. She turns on the light and they talk. When she mentions the word pattern, Mitch reacts. He asks her for a chart. He sees a newspaper in the seat next to his and grabs it. The headline reads, "Navy Patrol Plane Missing at Sea." He puts an "X" at each place where a plane is destroyed. He connects all the marks to show a spiral pattern. They argue when Sally does not see the same pattern. They get loud enough to disturb the other passengers.
A CAB plane flies towards the scene of the previous days crash. On board are four members of the Civil Aeronautics Board investigating team, and a pilot. The pilot spots a UFO and hears a squawking sound. A giant bird attacks the CAB plane. It looks like a giant vulture. The Investigators, all wearing parachutes, exit the plane. The crushed airplane is discarded and the parachutists are eaten one by one by the giant bird.
At Mitch's apartment, he responds to the door buzzer. A military escort arrives to collect Mitch and take him to General Buzkirk. Mitch shows the general the chart he marked with his proposed pattern. Buzkirk tells him there have been two more incidents. When MacAfee tells him he only saw a blur and wished he had a camera, Sally remembers that film in test rockets and balloons may have photographed the creature. Cameras are returned to labs for processing and Mitch, Sally, and Buzkirk examine the photos. They see the bird and it is huge and ugly. Buzkirk flies to Washington, D.C. with Mitch and Sally.
At the Pentagon, Lt. General Edward Considine (Morris Ankrum) examines the film strips showing the giant bird. Considine asks Sally if it could be flying in radar blind spots. He asks MacAfee if speed or altitude could affect the ability of radar to pick it up. The response to both questions is no. The phone rings and the general orders the creature shot down. They monitor Air Traffic communications. A squadron has spotted the bird and they open fire. Direct hits have no effect on the bird at all. It easily destroys the squadron. Considine gets a phone call from Dr. Karol Noymann (Edgar Barrier). He has analyzed the CAB wreckage and has found something. The general invites Mitch and Sally to accompany him to see Noymann.
Dr. Noymann begins with a model of the atom. He explains that if there is matter there must also be antimatter. He postulates that the bird is from another dimension and is made of ordinary matter but radiates some sort of force, an energy screen. The screen is antimatter. Sally adds that this explains the failure of the radar. Dr. Noymann holds up a piece of feather from the bird. It has defied chemical analysis. He concludes, "That bird is extraterrestrial. It comes from outer space, from some godforsaken antimatter galaxy millions and millions of light years from the Earth."
A world-wide panic ensues when the bird makes daring daylight raids around the globe. At his apartment, Mitch is working on a theory to destroy the bird's screen. He asks Sally to do some calculations. Sally wonders why the bird came to Earth--for food or to rest. Sally concludes the bird came here to build a nest. Mitch calls Buzkirk and asks for a plane and helicopter. He intends to return to Pierre's farm. General Considine gives a radio address explaining that with all aircraft grounded, the bird has taken to ground attacks on humans and livestock. The bird is attracted by movement. Therefore, the U.S. and all other world countries, have declared a state of emergency and instituted martial law.
An Air Force plane takes Mitch and Sally to Pierre's farm. In the helicopter they search for the bird's nest. Pierre has joined them on the hunt. They spot a giant nest and see the bird land with more brush and trees to reinforce its nest. They spot the egg. Pierre panics and bolts. Sally grabs a rifle, but Mitch scores the first hit on the egg. It punctures a hole allowing the some of the contents to spill out. Sally makes a second and larger hole. The third shot, by Mitch, cracks the eggshell in half. The bird is furious and swoops low over their blind. It spots Pierre and kills him. They decide to drive out as the helicopter would be to easy a target for the bird. They take Pierre's car. Four teenagers in an open hot rod pass them on the road. They have their lights on, making them an easy target. Oblivious to the danger, Mitch and Sally warn them. The bird spots the car and picks it up in its talons and destroys it. Two of the teens are thrown clear and Mitch and Sally stop to assist them. They bring the kids to a hospital and then return to Washington.
Mitch and Sally are working in a lab. Considine and Noymann arrive to hear Mitch's idea for getting past the antimatter screen. The answer is the generation and bombardment of Mu Meson particles at the bird. Noymann concurs, "The formation of a temporary mesic atom, the mu meson with a hydrogen nucleus." Considine asks him to start work right away. They build machine after machine all with no success. Meanwhile, the bird continues to reign destruction down on the Earth. Mitch manages to blow up the lab during one of his experiments. Dr. Noymann and Sally rush in to find Mitch out cold on the floor and the lab a shambles. He is still alive, so they take him to a hospital. Mitch explains that the explosion was not a failure. He did it on purpose. He used the mesic atom projector. He explains the wiring was fouled up, and that by adjusting the polarity on the main condenser terminals he was able to make it work.
At the airfield, an old B-25 is employed to use against the bird. Buzkirk will fly as pilot and Considine as co-pilot. Noymann, Sally, and Mitch put the equipment on board. They will have to assemble the components in the air. The bird was spotted in New York City. It is perched on the Empire State Building. While they fly to their destination they are closer to final assembly of the components. They arrive to find the bird attacking the United Nations General Assembly Building. They make a close pass at the bird to get its attention. The giant bird follows, destroying a few more buildings in its pursuit. Mitch finally finishes the machine and they begin firing mesic atoms at the bird. The birds antimatter screen disappears in an explosive cloud. They fire rockets at the bird and it falls out of the sky into the ocean below. General Considine reports to the scientists aboard that they got their target. We close with the giant claw of the bird clenching closed and then sinking into the ocean.