It is often said that the original Japanese version had an overt anti-American sentiment and contained references to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to the firebombing of Tokyo, all of which were claimed to have been deleted in the American version of the film. However, the original did not contain such anti-American references and the implication that Godzilla is a by-product of American H-bomb tests is still present in the American version, although to a lesser degree.
Raymond Burr said that, contrary to popular belief, all his scenes were not done in one day, but over the course of six days. It was simply impossible to create all the sets in one day, especially the daylight scene filling in for Odo Island and the night scene on the hilltop during Godzilla's first rampage.
Al C. Ward, who later wrote the entire 171-episode run of "Medical Center" (1969), was given a choice of $2500 up front to write the American scenes for "Godzilla" or 5% of the profits. Ward, thinking the movie would bomb, second-guessed himself and took the money. He later admitted to telling students of his college movie writing classes that he always regretted the decision. It was estimated he could have raked in $5 million in his lifetime from residuals.
In the American version, Godzilla's size was increased from 150 feet to nearly 400 feet because of the disparity between Japanese buildings (built short to meet earthquake codes) and American skyscrapers. It was felt that Godzilla's original size would be lost among the tall buildings of New York, the city most often compared to Tokyo.
In the original Godzilla (1954), the electrical barrier is stated to contain 50,000 volts, which was actually the voltage rating of just one line. In the American version, the voltage was upped to 300,000 volts because director Terry O. Morse felt no one would believe 50,000 volts could even faze Godzilla.
The Pan Am airliner at the beginning of the movie is a Boeing Stratocruiser, produced shortly after World War 2. It was based on the air frame of the B-29 Superfortress bomber, the plane used to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Japanese version of the film received a Japanese Academy Award nomination for Best Picture but lost to Seven Samurai (1954). It did, however, win the award for Best Special Effects. It is the only Godzilla movie to receive a nomination for Best Picture.
It was felt that an experienced editor was needed to direct this American version in order to maintain the continuity and make it appear that Raymond Burr was part of the original production, which was actually shot two years earlier as Godzilla (1954). Terry O. Morse was selected because he had almost 30 years experience as an editor, as well as experience as a director of low-budget films.
When the movie was released in Eastern Europe, anti-Western sentiment meant that some countries hid the fact that the film was the American edit of an originally Japanese movie. Instead, it was advertised as being fully produced by Japan.
Tôhô released this American version of its own Godzilla (1954) to Japanese audiences in 1957. The studio ballyhooed it as being a CinemaScope production, when in fact what Toho did was chop off the top and the bottom of the frame. These mutilated shots later made it into the studio's Daikaijû Baran (1958).
The scenes shot for the US version were shot at the Visual Drama Inc., studio at 129 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles, CA. The former studio is now the Frank del Olmo Elementary School (formerly Belmont Elementary). On March 25, 2006, a plaque was dedicated at the school in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the film's release in the US, a collaboration between the Godzilla Society of North America and Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus.
The original Japanese footage and the added American footage were all shot in standard academy ratio (1.37:1). However, the US distributor indicated that the film was to be projected in spherical widescreen. The cast and production credits that ran following the final fade-out were produced in hard-matted widescreen. Those theaters that had not installed wide screens could still run the release prints, which were full frame, but the cast and production credits would appear with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. When the television version was being prepared, the distributor avoided the lab cost of having the cast and production credit footage enlarged and re-framed to fill the television screen (as required by then current Federal Communicatins Commission [FCC] regulations) by simply removing this footage. At the fade-out, there is an abrupt cut to "The End." The loss of this footage, which ran approximately 90 seconds, reduced the running time to just under 79 minutes. The footage is believed to have been removed from the original master negative so that all reduction elements, and all elements used to produce the US home video releases, were missing all cast and production credits. The elements for this footage were assumed to be lost, but this footage still exists in the surviving 35mm theatrical release prints. In Japan, however, the film was released in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1, and the end credits were found in pristine condition for the film's release on the 2006 DVD set (released in the US by Classic Media) with the original Godzilla (1954).
Contrary to popular belief, Raymond Burr was actually quite proud of his association with this film. It came as a surprise to friends and colleagues when he enthusiastically returned for the international release of the 1985 sequel. While working on that film, he used the clout he'd gained from his success on "Perry Mason" (1957) to ensure the film wasn't too heavily edited and Koji Hashimoto's original intentions were preserved.
The fishing boat's distress call is received on a radio set labeled "500 kc/s " (kilocycles/second. ) This frequency, 500 kHz , was the Morse Code-based International Distress Frequency for most of the 20th century. It was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System in 1988.
With respect to: "'It is often said that "Since his contract said that he could only work for one day on the film, Raymond Burr was kept at the studio for 24 hours to shoot all of his scenes'; but, this is an urban myth with absolutely no evidence to support it. Between set construction and outside shots it took 6 days to shoot." According to R.J. Kizer, American scenes director on "Godzilla 1985," Burr told him the "one day" story. For "Godzilla 1985" Burr specified that he would work no more than 8 hours for one day. When Kizer asked Burr why the specification of 8 hours, Burr replied that on the first Godzilla film he agreed to one day's work and he was worked for 24 hours. He vowed to never fall victim to that again. Kizer now says that the six day shoot for the original is probably the true story. Besides being a practical joker, Burr loved telling legends.
If you listen closely during Godzilla's first appearance on the island, you can her a woman's voice shout "Gojira" in the background. The sound editors either didn't catch it or didn't bother to edit the line out.