The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

incredible shrinking man poster 1957 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Rather unconventional ending

Some pacing issues

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Incredible Shrinking Man

Studio: Universal International Pictures

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s): February 22, 1957

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

incredible shrinking man doctors visit cast

Yep…you’re shrinking. Some might say it is incredible

Newlyweds Scott Carey (Grant Williams) and Louise (Randy Stuart) encounter a strange mist upon the ocean, and Scott is coated in it.  Months later, Scott begins to notice a change.  His clothes don’t fit, he’s losing weight, and he’s getting smaller.  Unable to determine the cause, doctors find themselves in a desperate attempt to save Scott…but the shrinking is continuing.  Scott is running out of time, and after a run-in with an angry cat, Scott in a life or death battle.

Directed by Jack Arnold, The Incredible Shrinking Man is a science-fiction-fantasy horror thriller.  The film is based on the Richard Matheson 1956 novel The Shrinking Man and Matheson helped penned the script with Richard Alan Simmons and Matheson didn’t finish the novel until the film was in production.  The movie was well received and the film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2009.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1100).

incredible shrinking man grant williams vs cat

No, I don’t have anything to give to Am-Vets

I remember seeing The Incredible Shrinking Man as a kid as part of a horror movie marathon on TV…and it wrecked me.  Unlike a lot of typical horror movies, The Incredible Shrinking Man ends on such a bizarre and “downer” note that it feels different just in that.  Watching it now, the movie maintains its better than average standards and is a strong thriller.

The story for the movie is relatively short and sweet.  It has a short runtime but even in that there is some meandering by the plot.  It quickly begins to become a hopeless situation as Scott shrinks more and more, but as a movie viewer for the time period, you hold out hope for some sort of reversal.  Scott and those around him aren’t bad people so you don’t expect him to pay for something that was out of his control…but he does.

Grant Williams is a rather generic lead, but the character is supposed to be the “everyman” (and in 1950s the everyman was probably blonde, white, and handsome).  The actor died at a relatively young age and this was his biggest (ironically) work.  Randy Stuart is in a weird position in that she doesn’t know what to do about her husband’s problem.  She can only be supportive and watch as he melts away.  There is a little segue where Scott meets another little person played by April Kent (also used scale sized objects).  The sequence is nice but unfortunately it isn’t developed enough in the film.

incredible shrinking man vs tarantula grant williams

I can take you!

What is impressive is some of the special effects used in the film.  The movie obviously has to do stuff with split screen and oversized objects, but in some ways these look as good (if not better) than some effects in later years that were trying to accomplish the same thing with better technology.  The whole battle with the spider still is tense and looks decent.

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a good film that should be seen by both fans of science-fiction and horror.  It isn’t as easy as some of the movies from this period and the fact that it goes a direction you don’t expect keeps it fresh even to today.  A sequel was planned for the movie with Scott being “rescued”, but the much bleaker ending of this movie is the right choice.  I could actually see a nice Incredible Shrinking Man being remade with social and political commentary intertwined, but the simplicity and fun of this film prove that it isn’t necessary.

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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