Gorgo (1961)

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Eugène Lourié's dinosaur trilogy
The Giant Behemoth
Gorgo
None
Gorgo
American one sheet poster for Gorgo
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png Monster Gorgo (1961)
See alternate titles
Directed by Eugène Lourié
Producer Wilfred Eades, Herman King
Written by Robert L. Richards, Daniel James;
Eugène Lourié, Daniel Hyatt (story)
Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Distributor British Lion-Columbia DistributorsUK
Metro-Goldwyn-MayerUS
Rating Not Rated
Budget $650,000[1]
Running time 78 minutes
(1 hour, 18 minutes)
Aspect ratio 1.66:1
Rate this film!
3.75
(24 votes)

Like nothing you've ever seen before!
„ 

U.S. tagline

This is the BIG one!
„ 

— UK tagline

Gorgo is a 1961 British-American giant monster film produced by King Brothers Productions. It debuted in American theaters on March 29, 1961 and in British theaters on October 27 of the same year.

Plot

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Captain Joe Ryan searches for a treasure off the coast of Ireland until a volcano erupts nearby. This damages his ship, so Ryan and his first officer and friend, Sam Slade, go see harbour master Mr. McCartin for repairs. The two sailors meet Sean, an orphan who serves McCartin. The boy shows them his collection of ancient Viking relics, and Joe gets surprised by an image of what Sean calls "Ogra, the sea spirit"; The two sailors discover McCartin has a stack of illegal gold relics, showing he's also got an interest in archeology. Ryan threatens to call the police on McCartin. Meanwhile, Joe's divers look for some of them, who had disappeared, when one appears only to die. A group of fishermen find a monster, and successfully escape by using firebrands. The two sailors, after talking with the fishermen, and with the help of McCartin, capture the monster and haul in onto the ship. Sean warns them not to bring the monster to land, and instead leave him in peace, but none of the sailors listen. After returning to London, Ryan and Slade sell the monster to Dorkin's Circus, where it receives the name of Gorgo. While Gorgo keeps getting abused and humiliated during the night, scientists analyze the beast and apparently it is some kind of semi-aquatic dinosaur. The circus continues showing and humiliating Gorgo and Gorgo also becomes the victim of multiple incidents of animal cruelty. Meanwhile, scientists make a terrifying discovery: the giant beast Gorgo is only an infant and Ogra, his much larger mother, will be coming to look for him. Afterwards, Ogra makes her way through Ireland, and finally arrives in London where Gorgo is and begins her rampage, looking for her baby. Ogra destroys the city of London while Gorgo escapes, and the military tries to attack her, but it does not affect her. Ogra finds Gorgo and they head out to sea without further incident, returning to Ireland.

Staff

Main article: Gorgo (film)/Credits.

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Eugène Lourié
  • Written by   Robert L. Richards, Daniel James,
  • Story by   Eugène Lourié, Daniel Hyatt
  • Produced by   Wilfred Eades, Herman King
  • Executive producing by   Frank King, Maurice King
  • Music by   Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
  • Cinematography by   Freddie Young
  • Edited by   Eric Boyd-Perkins
  • Assistant director   Douglas Hermes
  • Special effects by   Tom Howard

Cast

Main article: Gorgo (film)/Credits.

Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Bill Travers   as   Captain Joe Ryan
  • William Sylvester   as   Sam Slade
  • Vincent Winter   as   Sean
  • Bruce Seton   as   Professor Flaherty
  • Joseph O'Conor   as   Professor Hendricks
  • Martin Benson   as   Mr. Dorkin
  • Barry Keegan   as   Mate
  • Dervis Ward   as   Bosun
  • Christopher Rhodes   as   McCartin
  • Mick Dillon   as   Gorgo / Ogra

Appearances

Monsters

Weapons, vehicles, and races

Development

After the great success they had distributing Rodan in the United States in 1957, the King brothers sought to produce a giant monster film of their own.[2] With Gorgo, director Eugène Lourié strove to atone for his first dinosaur film, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, as the death of the Rhedosaurus had made his daughter cry.[3] From the earliest stages of development, Gorgo and Ogra were to return to the sea at the end of the story, a rarity for giant monsters at the time. Originally, due to heavy Japanese financial backing, Gorgo was captured on Kuru Island in the South Pacific and taken to a Tokyo zoo. The main characters were pearl divers instead of treasure hunters. When the Japanese investors pulled out, the setting changed to Paris, France. Lourié, however, felt that the lack of a harbor near Paris would make the arrival of a sea monster ponderous. A strong offer from MGM led to a final switch to London, England in April 1959.

To Lourié's disappointment, the King brothers insisted on scenes of city destruction and military action. At some time before or during 1980, he edited a 35-minute version of the film which excluded both. It is not known if he ever exhibited it.

Production

Gorgo was filmed at the MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood, a town in Hertfordshire. Location photography took place in London and Coliemore Harbour, an Irish port near Dublin. Production notes included on the VCI Entertainment Blu-ray show that the London scenes were being filmed in September 1959 and the Coliemore Harbour scenes in November 1959.

The three identical monster suits used to depict both Gorgo and Ogra were made of rubber. Hydraulics operated by the stuntman inside allowed the eyes, mouth, ears and tail to move. Four actors in total played the creatures, though only Mick Dillon's involvement is confirmed; the others were likely David Wilding, Peter Brace and Peter Perkings.[2] A full-sized Gorgo head, claws and tail were built for shots where a composite using the suit would be impractical, including the footage of a captive Gorgo paraded on a truck through the streets of London. The sparse crowds in that scene were a consequence of the King brothers' unwillingness to pay extras. Their hope was that the sight of the enormous prop would attract onlookers on its own, but the morning of the shoot turned out to be cold and foggy.

Gallery

Main article: Gorgo (film)/Gallery.

Soundtrack

Main article: Gorgo (film)/Soundtrack.

Alternate titles

  • Monster Gorgo (怪獣ゴルゴ,   Kaijū Gorugo, Japan)
  • Gorgo: The Sea Monster (Gorgo: Havets Uhyre; Denmark)
  • The Monster from the Abyss (Potwór z otchłani; Poland)
  • Gorgo in the Footsteps of King Kong (Gorgo Auf den Spuren des King Kong; West Germany)

Theatrical releases

  • Japan - January 10, 1961  [view poster]Japanese poster
  • United States - February 10, 1961  [view poster]American poster
  • Canada - March 2, 1961
  • West Germany - June 1, 1961  [view poster]German poster
  • Portugal - June 27, 1961  [view poster]Portuguese poster
  • Mexico - August 17, 1961
  • France - August 30, 1961  [view poster]French poster
  • Finland - October 27, 1961
  • United Kingdom - October 27, 1961  [view poster]British poster
  • Sweden - November 20, 1961
  • Denmark - January 15, 1962
  • Ireland - March 30, 1962
  • Turkey - September 19, 1963
  • Iceland - May 13, 1965
  • Spain - 1972  [view poster]Spain poster
  • Italy  [view poster]Italian poster

Adaptations

A 141-page paperback tie-in novelization of Gorgo was published by Monarch Books in 1960 and was written by Bruce Cassiday under the pseudonym Carson Bingham. Charlton Comics also published a 23-issue Gorgo comic book series from 1961 to 1965. While the first issue was an adaptation of the film itself, subsequent issues revolved around the adventures of the titular Gorgo, with his mother Ogra and various other monsters also making appearances. Gorgo later made crossover appearances in two of Charlton's other comics: the 24th and last issue of Konga in 1966, which was renamed Fantastic Giants for the occasion, and Fightin' 5 #41 in 1967. The comic series would be followed by a three-issue spin-off miniseries initially titled Gorgo's Revenge, then retitled The Return of Gorgo after the first issue.

Titanic Creations, which acquired the toy license to Gorgo in 2023, would begin producing comic book prequels and sequels to the film set within the universe of their original kaiju characters. The first volume, Gorgo Legacy, is set for a summer 2024 release and will introduce Gorgo's father.

Technical specifications

  • Shooting format: 35mm Eastman Color Negative, type 5250[4] (spherical)
  • Lab work: Technicolor (U.S.) (prints)
  • Distribution format: 35mm Technicolor dye-transfer print (spherical)
  • Aspect ratio: 1.66:1 (soft and hard matte)[a]
  • Audio format: Optical mono (duo-bilateral variable area)
  • Spoken language: English, Irish Gaelic
  • On-screen language: English (credits)
  • Projection reel count: 4 reels
  • Footage count: Approx. 7,020 feet (2,140 meters)

Video releases

VCI Entertainment DVD (2000)

  • Region: 0
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: None
  • Special features: "Making of" featurette (10 minutes), cast and crew biographies, photo gallery, theatrical trailer, unrelated trailers, liner notes by Tom Weaver
  • Notes: Aspect ratio is 1.66:1.

VCI Entertainment DVD (2005)

  • Region: 1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: None
  • Special features: "Making of" featurette (10 minutes), cast and crew biographies, photo and poster gallery, theatrical trailer, unrelated trailers
  • Notes: Aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

CMV Laservision DVD (2006)

  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English, German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: None
  • Special features: "Making of" featurette (10 minutes), photo slideshow, U.S. and German theatrical trailers, unrelated trailers, "book recommendation" promo
  • Notes: Aspect ratio is 1.66:1.

VCI Entertainment DVD/Blu-ray (2013)

  • Region: 1 (DVD) or n/a (Blu-ray)
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (LPCM Mono), French (LPCM Mono), music and effects track
  • Special features: Theatrical trailer, English and French video comics, galleries of lobby cards, posters, collectibles, press books and photos, "Ninth Wonder of the World – The Making of Gorgo" featurette (31 minutes), production notes (2 minutes), "Restoration Video – Before and After" featurette (3 minutes).
  • Notes: Aspect ratio is 1.78:1.

Renown Pictures DVD (2016) [The Renown Pictures Monster Collection]

Vinegar Syndrome 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray (July 2023)

  • Region: N/A (4K Ultra HD) / A (Blu-ray; other regions untested)
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Special features: Audio commentary by Stephen R. Bissette, isolated music and effects audio track, "Gorgo Lives!" featurette, "The 9th Wonder of the World: The Making of Gorgo" extended featurette, "Gorgo: Behind the Scenes" featurette, Waiting for Gorgo (2009), Waiting for Gorgo behind-the-scenes featurette, theatrical trailer, promotional image gallery, production notes video gallery, lobby cards and posters video gallery, pressbook video gallery, photos video gallery, Gorgo anatomy sheet, Gorgo: The Monster from the Sea video comic book
  • Notes: Limited to 6,000 copies. Available in a standard edition or with a limited edition slipcase.

Videos

Theatrical trailer
Vinegar Syndrome video trailer
West German trailer
VCI Entertainment documentary on the making of Gorgo
Clip from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Gorgo
"The 9th Wonder of the World: The Making of Gorgo"

Trivia

  • Numerous sequences outlined in the screenplay and novelization were cut from the film, likely for runtime and budgetary concerns. These include Sam and Joe being menaced by an octopus and a killer whale while treasure diving, only to be accidentally saved by Gorgo; Ogra demolishing a lighthouse in a manner similar to the Rhedosaurus in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; and Gorgo battling a loose circus elephant after escaping from his enclosure.[5]
  • Like King Kong in his debut film, Gorgo is billed by the Dorkin Circus as the "8th Wonder of the World."
  • Gorgo was featured on season 9 of the movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, with the unfortunately-named Dorkin Circus (the omnipresent radio reporter at the end of the movie) and the complete lack of female characters becoming especially rich targets for parody. However, the episode was only aired twice, both times on July 18, 1998, due to rights issues.[6] It was released on DVD in 2013 by Shout! Factory, as part of the box set Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition.
  • Gorgo vs. Godzilla was one of several 40-minute films directed by John Carpenter in the 1960s, prior to the start of his professional career.[7] Carpenter has never allowed these films to be screened or released on home video, on the grounds that they are "devastatingly bad."[7]
  • Waiting for Gorgo, an unofficial 18-minute sequel, was released in 2009. VCI Entertainment tried to include it on their 2013 DVD and Blu-ray releases of Gorgo, but director Benjamin Craig rejected their offer.[8] However, it was present as a bonus feature in Vinegar Syndrome's 2023 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray release of Gorgo, along with a behind-the-scenes featurette.
  • Though not an official remake, the 1967 Nikkatsu film Gappa closely follows the plot of Gorgo, but with two city-smashing parent kaiju trying to rescue their captive baby instead of one.

External links

Notes

  1. Credits and photography suggest 1.66:1 framing at proper 1.66:1 spec. Film isn't protected for 1.85:1, as the text gets lopped off at proper 1.85:1 spec. Video releases of the film in 1.85:1 are not at proper 1.85:1 spec and manipulate the framing to keep the text from lopping off.

References

This is a list of references for Gorgo (film). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. Science Fiction Film Directors, 1895-1998 by Dennis Fischer
  2. 2.0 2.1 Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties by Bill Warren
  3. "Director of Dinosaurs" by Tom Weaver, Starlog #193 (August 1993)
  4. AC 1959, p. 747.
  5. Cooke, Bill (27 March 2014). Gorgo. BearManor Media. p. 23. ISBN 978-1593934996.
  6. Episode guide: 909- Gorgo
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Gorgo Vs. Godzilla: John Carpenter's Gojira Film He Won't Release". screenrant.com. Archived from the original on 22 September 2022.
  8. Waiting for Gorgo ... the wait is over - Monster Kids Classic Horror Forum
  9. Yamazaki, Gigan (10 January 2019). "世界に息づく怪獣王(ゴジラ)の遺伝子第2回". Media Arts Current Contents.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "怪獣ゴルゴ". New Line Corporation. Retrieved 7 June 2023.

Bibliography

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