The Monster That Challenged the World
The Monster That Challenged the World (original filming titles: The Jagged Edge and The Kraken) is a 1957 black-and-white science-fiction monster film from Gramercy Pictures, produced by Arthur Gardner, Jules V. Levy, and Arnold Laven (who also directed), and starring Tim Holt and Audrey Dalton. The film was distributed by United Artists as a double feature with The Vampire.
|The Monster That Challenged the World|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arnold Laven|
|Produced by||Arthur Gardner|
Jules V. Levy
|Screenplay by||Pat Fielder|
|Story by||David Duncan|
|Music by||Heinz Eric Roemheld|
|Cinematography||John D. Faure|
|Edited by||Lester White|
Gramercy Pictures, Inc.
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The Monster That Challenged the World's Gramercy Pictures is not related to the former PolyGram division of the same name.
In the Salton Sea, an underwater earthquake causes a crevice to open, releasing prehistoric giant mollusks. A rescue training parachute jump is conducted, but the patrol boat sent to pick up the jumper finds only a floating parachute. One sailor dives in but also disappears. The other sailor screams in terror as something rises from the water.
When the patrol boat does not answer radio calls, Lt. Cmdr. John "Twill" Twillinger takes a rescue party out on a second patrol boat to investigate. They find the deserted patrol boat covered in a strange slime; the jumper's body then floats to the surface, now blackened and drained of bodily fluids. Twill takes a sample of the slime to the base lab for analysis, where he teams up with recently widowed Gail MacKenzie and Dr. Jess Rogers.
A young couple disappear after going for a swim. U.S. Navy divers investigate and discover a giant egg and the body of one of the victims on the ocean floor. The divers are attacked by a giant mollusk, which kills one of the divers. The mollusk attacks the boat, but Twill stabs it in the eye with a grappling hook. The egg is taken to the U.S. Navy lab for study and kept under temperature control to prevent it from hatching.
The mollusks escape into an irrigation canal system, attacking livestock, a lock keeper, a trysting couple, and others. Navy divers locate a group of mollusks in the canal system, and use explosives to destroy them.
In the meantime, Gail is at the lab with her young daughter, Sandy. Worried about the lab rabbits being cold in the lab's lowered temperature, Sandy surreptitiously turns up the thermostat. Twill calls the lab and gets no answer. He arrives and finds that the hatched mollusk has Gail and Sandy cornered in a closet, where they ran to escape from the monster. He fights it with lab chemicals and a CO2 fire extinguisher until other Navy personnel arrive and shoot the mollusk.
- Tim Holt as Lt. Cmdr. John "Twill" Twillinger
- Audrey Dalton as Gail MacKenzie
- Mimi Gibson as Sandy MacKenzie
- Hans Conried as Dr. Jess Rogers
- Harlan Warde as Lt. Robert "Clem" Clemens
- Max Showalter as Dr. Tad Johns
- Gordon Jones as Sheriff Josh Peters
- Marjorie Stapp as Connie Blake
- Dennis McCarthy as George Blake
- Barbara Darrow as Jody Simms
- Robert Beneveds as Seaman Morty Beatty
- Charles Herbert as boy with Morty's cap
- Jody McCrea as Seaman Fred Johnson
- Wallace Earl as Sally (credited as Eileen Harvey)
The story for The Monster That Challenged the World came from David Duncan, who also went on to pen screenplays for The Time Machine (1960) and Fantastic Voyage (1966). During production, Duncan's original work was titled The Jagged Edge, before the screenplay was renamed The Kraken. Prior to the film's release, it was once more retitled, this time to The Monster That Challenged the World.
Filming took place in 16 days on a budget of $200,000. A majority of the underwater scenes in the production were shot at Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. Other primary filming locations included the Salton Sea, as well as Brawley and Barstow, California. The close-ups were later filmed in a tank filled with water and plastic seaweed.
In a 2016 interview, star Audrey Dalton recalled: "I thought it was a very interesting experience - as all my movies were in different ways. The director, Arnold Laven, had formed a production company with Jules Levy and Arthur Gardner. The monster stuff was fun, crouching behind a desk with a monster breaking down the wall. But you had to play it very straight. Once you start seeing the funny side of it, it doesn't work. Tim Holt had come out of retirement to do this movie. He was a quiet, very nice man - the most 'unactor' actor that I ever worked with. The film's poster features a woman in a bathing suit. People think it's me, but it was the actress whose character was drowned in the opening sequence. She's pulled into the water by the monster. We shot down on the beach for that. I think the rest of it was filmed along the California Aqueduct."
A TV Guide review of The Monster That Challenged the World noted, "Fine special effects help this film along by adding an atmosphere of impending danger." A later review by author Dave Sindelar of Fantastic Film Musings and Ramblings remarked: "For some reason, this fifties monster movie doesn't get much respect, but I think it holds up extraordinarily well. For one thing, I think the characters are unusually well drawn for this type of movie, and they're given a dimension and a sense of realness that adds a lot to the proceedings".
Respect for the "monster" also dominated a later review of The Monster That Challenged the World in the Video Movie Guide: "This late-1950s sci-fi programmer is set apart by only one thing: the giant monster, which is life-size (not a miniature), and given plenty of screen time."
As of 2015, the film was available on DVD as part of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer's Midnite Movies collection, both by itself and as a double feature with It! The Terror from Beyond Space. Kino Lorber's "Monster" Blu-ray featured an audio commentary by Tom Weaver, Dr. Robert J. Kiss and David Schecter.
- The Monster That Challenged the World at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- "Overview: 'The Monster That Challenged the World'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Scheib, Richard. "Review: 'The Monster That Challenged the World'." moria. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Weaver 1999, p. 84.
- Thomas, Bpb. "Hollywood." Daytona Beach Morning Journal, September 17, 1956, p. 12. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Stafford, Jeff. "Article: 'The Monster That Challenged the World'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Armstrong, Richard. "An Interview with Audrey Dalton on Olivia & Joan, Bob Hope, and William Castle". Classic Film & TV Cafe.
- "'The Monster That Challenged the World'." TV Guide. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Sindelar, Dave. Review: 'The Monster That Challenged the World' (1957)." scifilm.org, April 14, 2003.
- Martin and Porter 2001, p. 742.
- Arnold, Thomas K."Before the A-films arrive, 'psych out' with a good B-movie." USA Today, April 27, 2003. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Martin, Mick and Marsha Porter. Video Movie Guide (2002 ed.). New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 0-345-42100-0.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, (First edition 1982). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
- Weaver, Tom. Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1999. ISBN 978-0-7864-0755-2.
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