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Mother’s Velvet Lounge presents The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)


On Wednesday, November 8th, we continue our science fiction cinema series at Mother’s Velvet Lounge when we present the classic Jack Arnold directed thriller, The Incredible Shrinking Man starring Grant Williams and adapted by Richard Matheson from his novel.

 
While vacationing on a boat in placid Caribbean waters, Scott Carey is exposed to a cloud of mysterious metallic dust particles. Upon his return home he is accidentally sprayed with a pesticide, and soon thereafter begins to notice that he is loosing weight and that none of his clothes fit. Initially thinking little of the change, he eventually realizes that he is loosing height as well. His condition proves utterly confounding to medical science, and Scott and his caring wife, Louise have to face the possibility that he might live the remainder of his adult life as a midget. His diminishing size and sense of helplessness begins to take a toll on his psyche and his anger begins to manifest itself as a kind of tyranny. 
But being stared at and treated as a freak are the least of the terrors fate has in store for him…
     
The Incredible Shrinking Man is, to my mind, the most poignant science fiction film from the 1950’s in that the horror facing its Everyman protagonist comes not from outer space, the center of the earth, or the uncharted depths of the ocean. It isn’t a giant insect mutated by radiation or a dinosaur awoken from it slumber by a mining operation. It is his own identity in the face of a modern world where humanity is dwarfed by the end product of its own industry.
 
Richard Matheson’s screenplay was adapted from his novel, “The Shrinking Man”, with the hyperbolic “Incredible” added to the film’s title as a marketing concession. The novel’s title, with the absent adjective is indicative of the philosophical thrust of Matheson’s story rather than a sensationalistic one, and true to the spirit of much of his oeuvre which included I Am LegionDuelSomewhere In Timeand What Dreams May Come. His are stories of ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances and serve as powerful allegories for the human condition. His teleplays for the original The Twilight Zone series are among the most memorable and include Nightmare at 20,000 FeetThe Invaders, and Third From the Sun.

Jack Arnold might be regarded as one of the first “genre” directors having helmed such classics as It Came From Outer SpaceCreature From The Black Lagoon and Tarantula (one of the other films he directed that dealt with oversized arachnids). His style here is solid and well grounded, and allows Matheson’s script to flourish. Arnold was also very adept at working with a visual effects heavy production like this and for the era, the photographic effects were far above par. Also impressive was the work of the art directing duo of Robert Clatworthy and Alexander Golitzen (Touch of Evil), whose use of over scaled sets and props is simply mind boggling.
      
The excitement begins at 6:30 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00.  Hope to see you there! 
Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark