The Incredible Shrinking Man

USA 1957, 81 mins
Director: Jack Arnold

A landmark sci-fi classic with a superb script by Richard Matheson, this examines the protagonist’s changing relationship with his wife and his immediate environment when he starts diminishing in size following a strange, perhaps radioactive incident. Imaginative and gripping as a thriller, the film is also philosophically insightful and incisive as a pulp-fuelled meditation on questions of humanity and existence.

A contemporary review
Neatly adapted from his own novel by Richard Matheson, this horrifying story grips the imagination throughout. A great deal of the trick photography is successful, though inevitably the early stages, while Carey is still three feet or more, prove the most difficult: his height seems to vary, nor is his relationship with his wife and doctors particularly convincing. The biggest error is the casting of a pretty and utterly normal-looking blonde in the part of the midget, Clarice.

But once Carey is left to his own devices, struggling for survival in the wastelands of the cellar, sleeping in a match-box, fashioning weapons from pins and cotton, desperately attempting to forage food from a mousetrap liable to snap him in two at the slightest miscalculation – then the story takes on a significance not unlike that of Buñuel’s Robinson Crusoe. The battle with the spider is handled with such breathless assurance in the early stages, that one bitterly regrets being denied the climax for some reason the coup de grace has been cut.

Straightforward, macabre, and as startlingly original as a vintage Ray Bradbury short story, this remarkable film – for all its peaceful and resigned conclusion –opens up new vistas of cosmic terror. Jack Arnold’s characteristically blunt and melancholy style of direction is here perfectly attuned to and in sympathy with the story’s implications. And Grant Williams, slim, wiry and mousy-haired, brings a puzzled anonymity to the part of the hapless Carey which is notably effective.
Monthly Film Bulletin, July 1957

Directed by: Jack Arnold
©: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
a Universal-International picture
Presented by: Universal-International
Produced by: Albert Zugsmith
Assistant Director: William Holland
Screenplay by: Richard Matheson
From a novel by: Richard Matheson
Director of Photography: Ellis W. Carter
Special Photography: Clifford Stine
Optical Effects: Roswell A. Hoffman, Everett H. Broussard
Film Editor: Al Joseph
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Robert Clatworthy
Set Decorations: Russell A. Gausman, Ruby R. Levitt
Gowns: Jay A. Morley Jr
Make-up: Bud Westmore
Hair Stylist: Joan St. Oegger
Trumpet Soloist: Ray Anthony
Music Supervision by: Joseph Gershenson
Sound System: Westrex Recording System
Co-ordinator: Ray Gockel
Unit Manager: Lew Leary
2nd Assistant Director: Wilbur Mosier
Script Supervisor: Dorothy Hughes
Screenplay: Richard Alan Simmons
Camera Operator: William J. Dodds
Camera Assistant: Robert Pierce
Gaffer: Tom Oulette
Best Boy Electrician: Everett Lehman
Cable Man: Henry Janssen
Key Grip: Stanley Gulliver
Co-grip: Jim Hilbert
Stills Photography: William Walling
Special Effects: Charles Stine
Assistant Property Master: Roy Neel
Props Maker: Whitey McMahan
Property Master: Ed Keyes
Wardrobe Master: Rydo Loshak
Wardrobe Mistress: Martha Bunch
Make-up: Jack Kevan
Hair Stylist: Virginia Jones
Sound Recordist: Clifford Cunliffe
Sound: Leslie I. Carey, Robert Pritchard
Mike Man: Roger Parish
Sound Editors: George Ohanian, Bob Hirsch

Grant Williams (Scott Carey)
Randy Stuart (Louise Carey)
April Kent (Clarice)
Paul Langton (Charlie Carey)
Raymond Bailey (Doctor Thomas Silver)
William Schallert (Doctor Arthur Bramson)
Frank Scannell (barker)
Helene Marshall, Diana Darrin (nurses)
Billy Curtis (midget)

Luce Potter (Violet)

USA 1957©
81 mins

The Incredible Shrinking Man
Thu 19 May 14:30; Tue 31 May 18:20
Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia)
Thu 19 May 18:10; Wed 25 May 20:50; Fri 27 May 18:20
Daughters of the Dust
Fri 20 May 14:40; Thu 26 May 20:40
Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari)
Sat 21 May 11:10; Wed 25 May 18:00
The Long Day Closes
Sun 22 May 12:30; Thu 26 May 20:50
Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo)
Mon 23 May 20:45
A Farewell to Arms
Tue 24 May 20:50
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg)
Sat 28 May 18:15
The Miracle Worker
Sun 29 May 11:20
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Mon 30 May 18:20

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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