Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 31st, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1957
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Writer: Bert I. Gordon
Cast: James Craig, Gloria Talbott, Lon Chaney, Tom Drake
DVD released: October 12th, 2010
Approximate running time: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Warner Archive
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: Susan Winter goes searching for her fiancé who’s plane crashed three years ago. Along for the ride are her frustrated suitor and an uranium prospector. And the pilot, of course.
This is Bert’s best film, bar none. He had two films under his belt and had pretty much ‘mastered’ the art of rear projection, matte, and double exposure, and of pinching pennies as well. Shot in Bronson Canyon, the primary set is the cave, and the main prop is the plane. But the film works mainly because Mr. B.I.G. scored an excellent cast and crew. Ira Morgan provides the excellent, crisp B&W cinematography just before retiring; his credits date back to 1916, with the feather in his cap being Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. The excellence of the principle photography is essential, since once you start adding projection effects significant grain can result (just ask Ray Harryhausen).
Well paced, well written, and featuring a fantastic cast – all five of them. Gloria Talbot (I Married A Monster From Outer Space) is spunky and attractive, but the real joy of the film lies with Lon Chaney Jr.’s performance. His character is a sleazebag SOB who’s only out for number one. This is one of his best later performances (Spider Baby being another), though it is strange to see him drinking beer and scarfing down tortillas while berating the pilot for drinking too much [of course, they are getting ready to fly].
As a result of a rather long and dull conversation with the Governor, our quartet must escape as fugitives to reach the crash site. There they find lots of animals, spiders, rodents, etc. grown to enormous size. There is a lot borrowed from King Kong, and Gloria gives Fay Wray a run for best scream queen. And wait till you see the monster!
This is one of the new ‘Remastered Edition’ series of Warner Brothers Archives Collection DVDR releases. Unlike the regular series, this was newly transferred from the best source available from the WB film vault. And it looks gorgeous. As mentioned, the principal photography is extraordinary, and the [amateurish] special effects look as good as they ever will. There are 16 chapter stops and 10 seconds cut.
Yes, there are 10 crucial seconds missing. After the Cyclops is stabbed in the eye with the spear we cut to the plane. Gone is where he pulls the spear out, blood streaming from his eye, groans, and exits stage right. Thus the emotional climax to the most important scene in the entire movie is ripped asunder. Still a great print of one of the greatest schlock monster classics.
Note: If, prior to December 1, you ordered a copy of THE CYCLOPS (1957) from warnerarchive.com, your DVD could be missing 6 seconds of footage where the Cyclops removes a bloodied spear from his eye. If you call Customer Service at (866) 373-4389, they’ll mail you a replacement DVD of THE CYCLOPS, free of charge, upon verification of your order.