Incredible Shrinking Man, The

Reviewed By Charles Tatum
Posted 03/11/03 22:42:13

"a small film..."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Grant Williams and Randy Stuart are Scott and Louise Carey, vacationing couple lounging on a boat. A mist envelops Williams, and he is left with what looks like glitter on his chest. No other ill effects are noticeable.

One day, six months later, his dry cleaner keeps screwing up, either giving him clothes that are too big, or doing something to stretch his old clothes. He begins to notice he may be losing height as well as weight. He goes to see a doctor, played by William Schallert, and discovers he is not imagining his condition. The doc sends him home, but Williams comes back with even more, er, shrinkage.

The doctors decide the radioactive mist, along with some insecticide Williams accidentally inhaled, is causing an almost anti-cancerous condition in his body. Instead of renegade cells growing, his body is shrinking at a uniform rate. Williams is injected with a serum that seems to stop his loss, but does not help him grow. His marriage to Stuart begins to suffer as he takes out all of his frustrations on her. Down to thirty six inches, he runs away from home, getting stares the entire distance. He meets a sideshow midget Clarice, played by April Kent, and begins to feel normal again, trying to adapt to his new world. Eventually, he discovers the serum did not work, and he begins to shrink again.

Williams is now angry and bitter, living in a child's doll house and ordering Stuart around. The film's most famous scene happens when a pet cat is accidentally let into the house and attacks Williams. He ends up in the basement, and his wife and brother think he is dead. They begin to pack up the house and leave, while Williams spends the last half of the film down in the cellar, hunting for food and battling a giant spider.

The radioactive mist that poisons Williams occurs in the first few minutes of the movie, indicating that the film makers really wanted to get going on the story. I would have appreciated just a little look at what Williams' life had been like before he began to shrink. Williams does do a great job showing us his character's frustrations, I liked the fact that he is not just another pretty faced leading man.

The final long set piece set in the basement is brilliant. Seeing Williams figure out how to get food is fascinating to watch, and never stretches the imagination. The water heater flood is my favorite scene here, realistically played. The final few minutes of the film are a real downer.

I do wish the characters had loosened up just a little. I did not want an out and out comedy, but the doom and gloom gets a little heavy at times. Even Williams' relationship with the midget April Kent is not a happy one, and ends too soon.

Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay based on his own novel, and does a great job. The special effects are incredible, for a 1957 film, there were only a couple of scenes that were a bit iffy. No CGI, just good miniature and double shots that work well. Jack Arnold shows such a great eye here, getting down to Williams' level as he shrinks. How dirty is the floor of your basement? Arnold will let you know.

This is a quick eighty one minutes, and is never boring. "The Incredible Shrinking Man" is now a classic in the science fiction film field.

Unfortunately, Eddie Murphy may star in a remake coming out next year. Can't Hollywood leave well enough alone?? I highly recommend this entertaining film.

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