|Last week it was It, and this week it’s It again:
Of all the things you could say about IT, the fact that it came from beneath the sea seems the least important, at least the most confusing. Imagine the interchange:
What is it? It came from beneath the sea! Hold on, from the crust below the ocean? I still don't know what it is. No, it came from the ocean! So it came from beneath the surface of the sea, you're saying. But what is it? It doesn't matter! Oh, so I shouldn't care about It? No, the origins don't matter. It's headed straight for us! Well, fine, but if the origins don't matter, why did you bother with all that beneath the sea stuff? I - AAIIEEEEEE (sound of person being killed by It.)
It is first encountered by the crew of the USS Stoner, a Reefer-class sub out of Frisco. That's Kenneth Tobey at the periscope; he was great, and I do mean solid great, in "The Thing," and he's fine enough here.
After a taut opening sub sequence, where the creature is discovered but not revealed, it's back to the lab, brought to you in widescreen, full of moments that casually sum up the best of 50s sci-fi, and the culture that produced them.
Good heavens, Professor Joyce, you're beautiful:
We get some of the usual nonsense about "what's a girl like you do in a lab, when you could be sitting in a kitchen smoking, considering gin at 11 AM, wishing you hadn't abandoned your career in marine biology?" But not much. Sparks fly, and the good doctor has makes the Man of the Sea wonder if there isn't something to this landlubber gig after all. She does play it cool:
But no one cares about the romance; it just pads out the time between discovering the creature and battling the creature.
And brother: what a creature. It's an enormous, inexplicably belligerent octopus, marvelously rendered by Ray Harryhausen.
You can imagine how this looked on the big screen:
Well, it’s not entirely inexplicable. The Atom Bomb was responsible, of course. Nuclear testing has disrupted its feeding habits. Pity the bombs never made anything smaller, tastier, more docile, and smarter, but you wouldn’t have a movie if a giant bullhead walked up the docks of San Francisco and shouted “Who’s up for some UNO” in a gargly voice.
Every time I see a newscaster in these movies, I wonder if he was an actual newscaster. This is Sam Hayes:
He played lots of roles in the movies - all of which were announcers on radio or sporting events. He was apparently a real radioman as well, and his grave certainly has a newsman's touch.
The final attack has all the basics: panicked people pointing at the sky, men in hats buying EXTRAS from grizzled newsmen -
Banks of operators placing calls from the authorities to other authorities:
And of course, invasive tentacles looking for something to eat.
Here's some classic 50s monster action. Before it was taken down. there was a YouTube clip with French subtitles. Regardez! C'est un escargot grand, non? Fetchez-vous le buerre!