Tuesday, 30 October 2007


What makes Jack Arnold's THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN such an effective movie ? I first saw it at a school film society showing around 1960 and today it has lost none of its power. Given that the subject lends itself to humour and the film tends, in the minds of those who only know the title, to be lumped in with such lesser movies as ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT WOMAN and THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, why does the film still work so well today ? Arnold seems well aware that he is walking a narrow path between seriousness and humour and he avoids going in for any hint of self parody. When we first realise that Scott Carey (played so well by Grant Williams) has shrunk so much that he is living in a doll's house we smile at the idea but neither Arnold nor Richard Matheson's script allows for cheap jokes and we are not permitted for one minute to lose sight of Carey's awful predicament thanks to the way his psychological deterioration is presented. We feel involved enough that to an extent we are shrinking along with Carey. As he struggles to attract the attention of his wife and brother in the flooded cellar that has become his world we are willing them to notice him. But the film offers no safe antidote, no last minute rescue, no comfort that the world has returned to normal. Jack Arnold has an enviable reputation as a director of 50's sci-fi but even among his impressive list of credits THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN stands out as something very special. Rating ****

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

How right you are. I'm sure it has a lot to do with Matheson's writing but this Jack Arnold film is definitely a horse of a different colour. It's amazing how wrapped up in the movie you can become. Riveting.