The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

Here we are smack dab in the 1950s with the 101 Sci-Fi movies, and this time around, the list has brought me Jack Arnold’s classic film, written by Richard Matheson adapted from his own novel… The Incredible Shrinking Man!

Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is your basic male example from the 1950s, he’s likeable, but honestly, seems a bit douchey to me in his treatment of his wife Louise (Randy Stuart).

The mystery begins when Scott is exposed to an odd mist while he and his wife are on holiday on their boat. A few months later, after an unseen incident with some insecticide as a catalyst, Cary begins to shrink in size!

At first his doctor, played by a familar face, if not name (William Schallert – he’s one of those actors I see all the time, and say, “Hey, that’s the guy from…”) thinks Carey is just suffering from stress and nerves from work, but quickly sees the evidence for himself. Carey is indeed growing smaller.

The film makes use of oversized sets to make Scott appear smaller, as well as other special effects and camera tricks, and for the most part they work, or at least long enough to keep that suspension of disbelief in check.

The smaller he gets though, the worse he treats Louise, something he does realize, but not something he always apologizes for.

Finally, he’s so small that he has to live in a doll house, and brought about Thomas Sullivan’s most terrifying sequence. You see, on her way out the door, Louise accidentally lets in the Carey’s cat, Butch.

This cat is a talker! And once he spots Scott in the house, when he opens the door, there’s a huge feline face staring in at him, Butch starts to meow and yowl – Thomas Sullivan found the whole incident very troubling. I like how it was done though, and couldn’t help but feel bad for poor Scott, when a couple of claws shred his shirt and cut him – that would have hurt something terrible!!

He escapes, but unfortunately, ends up in the cellar, unable to mount the stairs as he’s even smaller now, and his wife and brother believe the cat has made fast work of him.

Now utterly alone, Scott tries to fend for himself in the cellar, and suffers from a flood, insurmountable physical obstacles, and a hungry, hungry spider.

The film itself is a good idea, but I found Scott so angry and upset by what was happening to him, that I couldn’t identify with him at all. I get that such a thing would be upsetting, but he wanders around acting emasculated simply because he’s no longer this big strapping fellow, he’s still the same man mentally and emotionally. Apparently to people like him, size, or lack thereof is very important to him, I bet he drives a really big car, probably an SUV or something…

I think the thing that I found lacking most, and making only a brief appearance at the end of the film when Carey finally begins to accept what’s happening to him, is a sense of wonder.

Yes, I get that it’s a terrible thing happening to him, BUT, think of how amazing the world would be, the change in your perspective the smaller you got! You could explore, see things that we’ve only seen via microscope, I think it would be pretty cool.

It was a fun film, but like I said, lacked that sense of wonder that would have made it amazing…

What did you think?

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