I can’t tell you how many times I saw “The Incredible Shrinking Man” on television as a kid, but it was a lot.  This film is emblazoned on my childhood.

Oddly, it gets very little respect.  It wasn’t a huge hit, and took a few re-releases to make a profit.  It had no real stars.  The lead, Grant Williams, went straight from this film to a decades-long television career playing bit parts in episodes of “The Munsters”, “Bonanza”, and “Perry Mason.”

The director, Jack Arnold, was famous for 50’s science fiction movies, but among his hits “It Came From Outer Space”, “Creature From The Black Lagoon” and “Tarantula”, this film opened the door to films likely to be picked up by Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a long list of tv work.

So why is this film so good?  Why is it worth another take?

First of all, and this is about as psychologically analytical as I get, but it hearkens back to something we’ve all experienced – being little in a big world. 

Scott Carey is on a boat and encounters a strange mist.  Slowly, he notices he’s shrinking bit by bit.

The entire movie is his journey to survival in his own home when things like pins and spiders are lethal weapons and a matchbox is the size of a room.

The special effects, where most of the money went in this film, are awesome and hold up today.  The editing is top notch, and the story moves at a pretty rapid pace.

It’s pretty linear, and the ending is not what you’d expect.  In the age of the atomic energy movement, I guess this is a Godzilla-type film, except the impacts aren’t a monster, but something more individual and more subtle.

Through it all, you still identify and sympathize with the main character, and that’s what I think is the magic of this film.  This could very easily been a film where the audience roots against the shrinking man and cheers the cat or the spider.  It never happens.  Right to the final scene, you are with Carey, and you need to be, because without that, the film could become silly very quickly.

If you saw it as a kid, it’s worth another take.

The Highlight Reel

No better scene in this film than the fight with a spider.  Worth watching the entire movie twice just to see it again.

, , ,
The Incredible Shrinking Man Horror, Sci-Fi | 81min | April 10, 1957 (Canada) 7.6
Director: Jack ArnoldWriter: Richard Matheson, Richard Alan SimmonsStars: Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April KentSummary: 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. —alfiehitchie


See all photos >>