Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

godzilla king of the monsters poster 1956
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun if you haven't seen Gojira

Story doesn't really make sense due to Americanized version

Movie Info

Movie Name: Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

Studio: Embassy Pictures Corporation

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): April 27, 1956

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

godzilla king of the monsters attacks japan

He’s coming to America!!!

Something is lurking in the waters off of Japan and on line to intercept the island.  An American reporter named Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) has been sent to cover the story and learns of a beast called Godzilla who appears to be a result of the Atomic Age.  With Godzilla bearing down on Tokyo, Steve tells the story of Ogata (Akira Takarada), his lover Emiko (Momoko Kochi), and the scientist she had been engaged to named Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) who holds the key to defeating the giant lizard before it destroys the city.

Directed by Terry O. Morse, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is the American version of the Japanese classic Gojira which was directed by Ishirō Honda.  With the popularity of Gojira, producers decided to Americanize the film and created this hybrid film.  The movie was met with so-so reviews but became a huge financial success which led to other Godzilla films arriving in the United States.  Also, a colorized re-edited verison of this film nicknamed “Cozzilla” due to its director Luigi Cozzi was released in 1977.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of Gojira which included Godzilla:  King of the Monsters! (Criterion #594) and it was also included as part of  Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975 boxset (Criterion #1000).

godzilla king of the monsters steve martin raymond burr

Hold me, Steve Martin!!

I grew up with Godzilla, King of the Monsters! and loved watching Godzilla.  When I got older, I learned that Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was essentially a remake (or reworking) of a real Japanese picture.  For years, Gorija wasn’t available in the United States so generations only new this highly edited version of the film.

The movie (in this form) doesn’t often make sense.  I also grew up with Godzilla usually playing the “hero” and protecting Japan from attacks.  Here, the movie is rather heavy handed and serious and presented in a documentary form.  It is pretty amazing to consider the original was made nine years after the atomic bombs were unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and this seems like early commentary by the culture affected directly…once again Japan is menaced by a force that cannot be stopped.

godzilla king of the monsters gojira attacks clock

Godzilla hates time!!!!

To help Americans take in Gojira, Raymond Burr was brought in to narrate the story and shot scenes where he’d be standing around “listening” to the events of the story.  It makes it rather jarring when Burr’s character is talking about his “friends” and their relationship problems which serve as the plot surrounding Godzilla’s attack.

Despite the weird framing, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is a fun movie.  Even though he is just a person in a suit, Godzilla seems to have some life in this early film.  His attack is much more savage than later films since he is really out to destroy…atomic breath and all.

Once I finally saw Gojira, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! made much more sense…and unfortunately didn’t hold up as well.  The glaring problems of the narration are now harder to watch since the plot and characters are being lost.  Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was followed up by Godzilla Raids Again in 1955 (which of course actually precedes the making of this version of the film).

Related Links:

Gojira (1954)

Followed By:

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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