Scott Carey and his wife Louise are sunning themselves on their cabin cruiser, the small craft adrift on a calm sea. While his wife is below deck, a low mist passes over him. Scott, lying in the sun, is sprinkled with glittery particles that quickly evaporate. Later he is accidentally sprayed with an insecticide while driving and, in the next few days, he finds that he has begun to shrink. First just a few inches, so that his clothes no longer fit, then a little more. Soon he is only three feet tall, and a national curiosity. At six inches tall he can only live in a doll's house and even that becomes impossible when his cat breaks in. Scott flees to the cellar, his wife thinks he has been eaten by the cat and the door to the cellar is closed, trapping him in the littered room where, menaced by a giant spider, he struggles to survive.Written by
Jack Arnold solved the problem of simulating giant drops of falling water by use of a treadmill dropping hundreds of water-filled condoms. See more »
In all of the far shots of Scott being small, he casts no shadow. Yet, he does cast a shadow in the close up shots. See more »
A strange calm possessed me. I thought more clearly than I had ever thought before - as if my mind were bathed in a brilliant light. I recognized that part of my illness was rooted in hunger, and I remembered the food on the shelf, the cake thredded with spider web. I no longer felt hatred for the spider. Like myself it struggled blindly for the means to live.
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When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'A' rating. All cuts were waived in 2006 when the film was re-rated with a 'PG' certificate for home video. Note: The running time on the BBFC website for the 1957 theatrical release mentions a run time of 91 minutes 48 seconds with an indication this is the submitted run time prior to any cuts. It is not clear if this was a longer version of the film which is widely known to run just 81 minutes (77 minutes on PAL media). See more »
When a businessman Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is infected by a mysterious cloud of mist on a boating vacation, little does he know how his life and whole way of existing are about to change. After six months of normal life he notices he has lost a little weight and height, and that this strange loss of size is continuous. He keeps growing smaller and smaller every day, to the amazement of doctors and to the chagrin of his wife (Randy Stuart). Soon everyday things become grave dangers to him and he has to completely let go of his old way of comprehending his place in life.
The over-sized props and the creative trick photography that is used to create the illusion of shrinking must have looked absolutely stunning in the 1950s when the film first came out, because they still look impressive when I'm typing this in 2010. Carey's struggles with unexpected sources of terror like a cat, a mousetrap or a spider haven't lost any of their charm over the decades: they are still edge-of-your-seat suspense, and I'm not saying this as any kind of affirmative action in favour of old movies – I genuinely haven't been this thrilled by a movie in a long time! Besides the visual effects, the riveting music is also perfectly in tune with the thrilling style of the film.
Even though the film can easily be enjoyed as a great sci-fi suspense film, there's also a deeper, more personal level to it. Carey truly develops as a character over the course of the film. He is aware of his frustration and changing moods and scolds himself for being rude to his wife and not being able to take the new challenges bravely head-on. The sense of loneliness, created excellently with beautiful black & white cinematography and camera angles, has been said to mirror the fearful atmosphere of the Cold War and the nuclear era. This is a valid interpretation, but it's also possible to see Carey's journey as a symbol of Man's existential despair and feelings of inadequacy in life that is seemingly normal and mundane. The grandiose finale provides a majestic ending for the tale of new-found self-esteem; all my worries about a predictably tacked-on happy ending were proved unnecessary.
I wrote this review immediately after seeing the film for the first time. These words came out completely without effort and that is, to me, a sign of an honestly compelling cinematic experience. The Incredible Shrinking Man is a delight to watch, not the least bit goofy or dated like some other old sci-fi films. I recommend it for every fan of the genre, admirers of imaginative special effects and anyone interested in existential character studies.
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