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
Richard Matheson's book was written as a series of flashbacks so that you got into the cellar with Scott quickly. Universal insisted on a linear story. They also vetoed key sequences, such as Scott spending the night with the female midget, a drunk homosexual who abuses Scott, a gang of teenagers who terrorise him, and Scott becoming a Peeping Tom secretly spying on a teenage girl baby-sitter. These were obviously rejected as too risqué for 1957! See more »
As Scott goes out into the night to the diner, people walking around cast shadows on the ground. Yet, Scott casts no shadow at all. 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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This is simply a superb science-fiction drama of a couple's prosperous 1950s world turned upside down. Vacationing on a boat, while the wife Louise (Randy Stuart) is below deck, husband Scott Carey (Grant Williams) above becomes exposed to a radioactive mist, that changes his body's metabolism ("anti-cancer"). Critics question why the mist did not affect others, including the wife, but the doctor's (Raymond Bailey) explanation later is that Carey was accidentally previously exposed to insecticides, the 2 compounds in his system reacted together to create the phenomenon. (This idea was used in "The Leech Woman" - 1960, also with Williams, where fluid from a male pineal gland had to be mixed with a floral powder to achieve youth). As a kid, I was in awe with the attacks from an ordinary cat and a spider, but as an adult, one feels great sympathy for this character, and his family. Williams, a handsome Nordic blonde, gives a beautiful performance, and narrates over much of the film which later has no dialogue, but greatly aided by a magnificent score; the title piece is haunting with its Trumpet solo set against an advancing cloud that gets bigger while the human frame dwindles. Stuart is terrific as the suffering wife, faintly resembling Dinah Shore, she even co-starred with Shore's ex-husband George Montgomery in the following year's "Man From God's Country" - 1958, her last film. April Kent (daughter of actress June Havoc, did she have a sister named May?) is warm and sympathetic in her two scenes playing a midget (although not) when Williams is 3 feet high, a poignant interlude. The special effects are supremely done. The first 3 words of the title have become part of our culture, even recently a major magazine heading stated "The Incredible Shrinking..." on its cover. Director Jack Arnold paces beautifully, Richard Matheson script is intelligent and the closing scenes have a soaring, wondrous quality that few films have ever matched.
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