DIRECTOR: Jack Arnold
Famous, a classic from the 1950’s Sci Fi stable, The Incredible Shrinking Man has stood as one of the top films from the shrinking sub-genre, but until now, I had never seen it. But what a treat this was. Adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson from his own novel, this charts the story of Robert Scott Carey, Grant Williams, a married man who whilst on holiday with his wife, encountered a mysterious radiation cloud which begins the shrinking process.
The interesting thing about this film is right from the get go it takes itself seriously at a time when Science Fiction was struggling to be taken seriously. The shrinking, though leading to obvious set pieces, is almost secondary to the emotional and social consequences of such a transformation, certainly in the 1950’s, as his wife, played excellently by Randy Stuart, begins to tower over him and as a result he, now standing at about three feet tall, begins to exert an enormous amount of power and domination as his size leads to an ever-growing insecurity complex.
This is a kin to a man being wheelchair bound and feeling inadequate for example. But these themes are very well portrayed in a Sci Fi film of its time, but proof that there are a few films pushing and even breaking the mold of the day. But when all is said and done, this is a film with the title The Incredible Shrinking Man which actually takes a mature, philosophical and metaphysical route rather than just cheap thrills and spills.
But as for the action, you couldn’t really ask for more, as once he ends up a few inches tall and trapped in his own basement, he must battle mouse traps, flowing water, great chasms and the infamous spider, all in a struggle to claim a small piece of stale cake left there by his wife…
But considering its age and special effect limitations of the day, this looks spectacular, thrilling, exciting, gripping and scary and with real motivations and a believable ethos, Carey is striving for dominance in his new macro world. Overall, I really liked this, which took an abnormal situation, grounded it with real character studies and a plausible analysis of the situations at hand, make this a valuable entry into Science Fiction cannon.