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Incredible Shrinking Man, The

Entry updated 24 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1957). Universal. Directed by Jack Arnold. Written by Richard Matheson, based on his own The Shrinking Man (1956). Cast includes April Kent, Randy Stuart and Grant Williams. 81 minutes. Black and white.

This is one of the few truly classic sf films of the 1950s. The basic premise is unscientific, but that does not detract from the power of this story about a man (Williams) who becomes contaminated by a radioactive cloud and starts to shrink (see Miniaturization). What was once safe and comforting to him becomes increasingly threatening as he continues to diminish. There is severe sexual anxiety as his wife (Stuart) looms ever larger above him (and patronizes him). In due course his cat becomes a monster and the prosaic confines of his own basement, into which he escapes, become a surrealist jungle. Eventually he disappears completely as the wind blows through autumn leaves and the stars glitter above in a curiously joyful epiphany. Matheson's mature script is intelligently handled by Arnold. Clifford Stine's special effects are a paradigm for how these things should be done.

A supposedly comic partial remake starring Lily Tomlin, The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), directed by Joel Schumacher, purports to be a Satire on the consumer society. [PN/JB]

see also: Great and Small; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Hugo; Mutants; Paranoia.


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