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Arnold, Jack

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Film, People.

(1916-1992) US film-maker, born Jack Arnold Waks, who made a number of sf films during the 1950s. In World War Two, while in the Army Signal Corps, which was producing training films, Arnold found himself working with the great documentary maker Robert Flaherty and received an invaluable crash course in film-making. After World War Two he made several successful documentaries. This led to an offer from Universal Studios to direct feature films, beginning with Girls in the Night (1953). In 1953 he directed his first sf film, It Came from Outer Space, based on a treatment by Ray Bradbury. His other relevant films are Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), Tarantula (1956), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Monster on the Campus (1958) and The Space Children (1958). In 1959 he made the Peter Sellers comedy The Mouse that Roared (see Leonard Wibberley), the last of his sf-oriented films. His work for Television included directing four episodes of Science Fiction Theatre (1955-1957) – one of these being "No Food for Thought" (22 April 1955), the basis of Tarantula – and three of It's About Time (1966-1967).

Arnold's Monster Movies, several of which make excellent, moody use of their cheap desert locations, have other moments of beauty, as in the underwater ballet of Creature from the Black Lagoon, when the Creature mimics the movements of the woman swimmer, unseen by her, with a curious, alien eroticism. His sf masterwork is The Incredible Shrinking Man, a surreal classic of sf cinema, with its tragic, suburban hero going mad, like some King Lear on the blasted heath of his own menacing cellar. Arnold was a genius of B-movies. [PN/JB/DRL]

see also: Mr Terrific.

Jack Arnold Waks

born New Haven, Connecticut: 14 October 1916

died Woodland Hills, California: 17 March 1992

further reading

see also: Cinema.


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