Saturday, February 18, 2012

#551. It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)

Directed By: Robert Gordon

Starring: Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis

Tag line: "Out of primordial depths to destroy the world!"

Trivia:  This is the film that brought together producer Charles H. Schneer and special effects legend Ray Harryhausen. Their professional relationship would last until Clash of the Titans

It Came From Beneath the Sea tries to be more than your typical monster film, what with its lighthearted humor and complex love story, but the movie never really hits its stride until Ray Harryhausen's animation finally takes center stage. 

When an atomic submarine runs into a few problems during a routine dive, its Commander, Pete Matthews (Kenneth Tobey), orders the vessel to surface and return to base for repairs. Upon inspection, it’s determined the ship’s damage was caused by a giant octopus, one that's grown to an amazingly large size. Two scientists, Professor Joyce (Faith Domergue) and Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) are hard at work trying to determine what it was that mutated this creature, but time is quickly running out. According to military radar, the monster is on the move, and will soon be unleashing its fury on the unsuspecting citizens of San Francisco. 

The look of the octopus, as devised by Harryhausen, is really quite impressive, and an early attack on a navy scouting ship establishes, in one fell swoop, both the creature’s strength and its nasty disposition. This exciting pace intensifies once it finally arrives in San Francisco, where it lets loose a furious anger on the unprepared city. At one point, the beast even attacks the famous Golden Gate Bridge, a sequence that's unquestionably the strongest in the film. As he’s done many times over the years, Harryhausen's creation transforms what would have been a mediocre monster film into something considerably more substantial. 

Harryhausen has lent his talents to a number of memorable films, including such rousing adventures as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. The single element each of these movies has in common, including It Came From Beneath the Sea, is the incredible amount of imagination that went into their making, an imagination which never failed to find its way to the screen.

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