Category Archives: 1955

Revenge of the Creature (1955, Jack Arnold)

Revenge of the Creature has three parts. The first part involves Nestor Paiva (the only cast member from the original to return) and John Bromfield as the guy who’s going to capture the Creature, the second part involves Bromfield, John Agar and Lori Nelson all studying the Creature in captivity, the third part has Agar and Nelson hunting the escaped Creature.

Oh, wait, no. The third part has Agar and Nelson completely ignoring the escaped Creature. And it makes sense. They were visiting scientists, they had no real investment in the Creature being a tourist attraction. Revenge of the Creature is a totally fine idea terribly executed. Maybe if Agar and Nelson had any chemistry whatsoever. Instead, their scenes are more interesting for the bland 1950s sexism. Nelson’s a scientist too, but she’s got to make a choice, one Agar wouldn’t be able to make. It’s not fair.

Maybe they’d have more chemistry with better small talk. But Martin Berkeley’s script wants to be taken seriously as science-y, which is a big mistake. The middle section of the film, which has the Creature in captivity, is nothing but Agar and Nelson bothering it. The underwater sequences are technically great–and Ricou Browning does a fabulous, uncredited job as the Creature in Revenge–but they’re boring. They’re boring from the start of the movie; Arnold immediately establishes there’s not going to be much artistry in the underwater thrills. There will be monster action, but not artistic monster action.

Strangely, the film coasts through pretty steadily until the Creature’s escape. Arnold never impresses too much–Revenge seems very hurried–but he does fine. Paiva’s awesome in the opening, Agar’s sturdy enough except when he’s got to romance Nelson, who’s likable without being particularly good (or bad). The middle section of the film promises something exciting. There’s nothing exciting in the third part. It feels like a different film, actually. Agar isn’t sturdy in this part, regardless of who he’s acting with. He’s barely conscious.

Revenge of the Creature should be better. But it’s got some solid fifties monster sequences thanks to Browning, Arnold and photographer Scotty Welbourne.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Arnold; screenplay by Martin Berkeley, based on a story by William Alland; director of photography, Scotty Melbourne; edited by Paul Weatherwax; produced by Alland; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring John Agar (Prof. Clete Ferguson), Lori Nelson (Helen Dobson), John Bromfield (Joe Hayes), Grandon Rhodes (Jackson Foster), Dave Willock (Lou Gibson) and Nestor Paiva (Lucas).


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Godzilla Raids Again (1955, Oda Motoyoshi)

Godzilla Raids Again has all the elements it needs to be a quirky success. It has a low budget and rushed schedule, resulting in a hodgepodge of awkwardly effective sequences amid otherwise inept ones. The script, from Murta Takeo and Hidaka Shigeaki, mixes inert melodrama with giant monsters. But then the script keeps getting distracted–there’s a “should be wacky” subplot with escaped prisoners–except never because it’s interested, certainly never because director Oda’s interested, but because there needs to be filler.

There’s some great filmmaking in the filler. Most of Taira Kazuji’s editing is terrible, but in the first half of the film when they’re desperately trying to pad, it’s amazing. There’s this sequence from the first film–in the story, not just a flashback–they actually paused Raids Again to play back the highlights from the previous film. The way the newsreel works in the narrative, the way it plays without any sound from newsreel or the audience, it’s creepy and it’s really good.

Other good moments include a cobbled together nightclub scene and the film’s opening discovery of the new Godzilla (and his nemesis monster).

Unfortunately, the cast gives fairly weak performances. There’s nothing anyone could do with the script, but they don’t even try. Except lead Koizumi Hiroshi, who always looks like he’s eagerly awaiting some acting direction; he never gets any from Oda.

Endô Seiichi’s photography is all over the place. Until the last third, it’s usually pretty good. In that last third, however, it goes to pot.

Also going to pot in the last third is the script. The editing gets worse–Taira gets a big responsibility with the final sequence and it doesn’t go well. Oda doesn’t have any actual drama, the script doesn’t have any drama; Taira’s editing needs to create the tension, the suspense. It does neither.

Everyone just seems bored with the film–except the effects team, there are some good effects shots and some great miniatures.

In the end, Raids Again disappoints. Again and again.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Oda Motoyoshi; screenplay by Murata Takeo and Hidaka Shigeaki, based on a story by Kayama Shigeru; director of photography, Endô Seiichi; edited by Taira Kazuji; music by Satô Masaru; production designers, Abe Teruaki and Kita Takeo; produced by Tanaka Tomoyuki; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Koizumi Hiroshi (Tsukioka Shoichi), Wakayama Setsuko (Yamaji Hidemi), Chiaki Minoru (Kobayashi Kôji), Shimizu Masao (Dr. Tadokoro), Onda Seijirô (Captain Terasawa), Sawamura Sônosuke (Shibeki), Tsuchiya Yoshio (Tajima), Mokushô Mayuri (Inouye), Kasama Yukio (Yamaji) and Shimura Takashi (Yamane).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | GODZILLA, PART ONE: SHOWA.


Diabolique (1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot)

Diabolique has an extremely messy script. Not just in how the film changes gears multiple times as far as the pace. The entire film takes place in a week (and a day, maybe) and the first half or so takes place in three days. Director Clouzot is initially deliberate with those seventy-two hours, encouraging the viewer to pay attention to time details and supporting characters. Then he speeds up a little. Then he lengths the narrative distance to the characters. These changes aren’t organic, Clouzot doesn’t do anything to forecast them or move the film toward them. He gets away with it for a while because it seems like they’re going to add up to something.

Then they never do. And Clouzot goes out on a gag he established in the second half of the film. The lesser half too. Because even though there are a lot of thrills in Diabolique’s finale, Clouzot can’t do them. He refuses to be manipulative enough for the sequences to work, deliberately directing against it. The script isn’t any help during these scenes either; the script would probably play better as a comedy than a serious film, it’s so bewilderingly contrived.

Clouzot doesn’t care about the characters in Diabolique, which is another reason it’s too bad it isn’t a comedy. There should be a strange bond between lead Véra Clouzot (the director’s wife and second-billed, though the protagonist) and Simone Signoret. But Diabolique sets them up with a catch–Signoret’s Clouzot’s husband’s mistress (Clouzot the actor, not the director)–then reminds the viewer of that catch while pushing them gracelessly through the film.

And both Clouzot (the actor) and Signoret are good. They’re just never good together, except maybe a little at the beginning.

Paul Meurisse is okay as the husband. He doesn’t really have a character to play. He’s just got be utterly loathsome. It’s surprising he doesn’t kick a dog or something.

The film’s well-directed as far as composition, Madeleine Gug’s editing is fantastic, the lead performances are great, it’s all just a tad shallow. Even if the film’s intended to be effective only on the initial viewing, Clouzot takes every lame short cut he can.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot; screenplay by René Masson, Frédéric Grendel, Clouzot and Jérôme Géronimi, based on a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac; director of photography, Armand Thirard; edited by Madeleine Gug; music by Georges Van Parys; released by Cinédis.

Starring Véra Clouzot (Christina Delassalle), Simone Signoret (Nicole Horner), Paul Meurisse (Michel Delassalle), Jean Brochard (Plantiveau), Michel Serrault (M. Raymond), Jacques Varennes (M. Bridoux), Pierre Larquey (M. Drain), Yves-Marie Maurin (Moinet), Thérèse Dorny (Mme. Herboux), Noël Roquevert (M. Herboux) and Charles Vanel (Fichet).


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THIS POST IS PART OF THE CRITERION BLOGATHON HOSTED BY AARON OF CRITERION BLUES, KRISTINA OF SPEAKEASY, and RUTH OF SILVER SCREENINGS.


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Dark Stranger (1955, Arthur Ripley)

Dark Stranger is a high concept story about a writer meeting a character out of his novel. The concept’s ambitious because the script–from Betty Ulius and Joel Murcott–is so thorough. Edmond O’Brien’s writer isn’t a Bohemian who might buy into the idea. He’s calculating and positively bewildered.

The script goes through O’Brien’s investigations, his interrogating, all while the subject of his attention–Joanne Woodward–goes through her own crises.

Ripley is really good with the leads’ scenes together. The composition sometimes hints at where their relationship is going, sometimes offers more sympathy to one character than another. Stranger is a television production, so there isn’t much in the way of grand movements; Ripley just knows how to facilitate his actors.

Woodward excels in the second half, as she starts asking more and more questions. O’Brien’s solid. Good support from Evelyn Ankers.

The ending’s lame, but otherwise, Stranger’s good.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Arthur Ripley; teleplay by Betty Ulius and Joel Murcott, based on a story by Ulius; director of photography, George E. Diskant; edited by Sherman Todd; produced by Warren Lewis.

Starring Edmond O’Brien (Ray Ericson), Joanne Woodward (Jill Andrews), Evelyn Ankers (Ruth McCabe) and Dan Tobin (Don Shaw).


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