The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
- For the titular monster, see Rhedosaurus.
Yes, it could happen! For various authorities believe that, buried somewhere under the polar icecap, in a state of suspended animation, are the awesome creatures, the leviathans that roamed the Earth at the dawn of time and, under certain conditions, a nuclear explosion could free one from his icy tomb! Then, guided by instinct, The Beast would come back, back to the caverns of the deepest Atlantic where it was spawned! An armored giant, wreaking his prehistoric fury on modern man and his puny machines! Cities would be terrorized by the cruel intruder from the past; Populations crazed and panicked with fear by its destructive force! Granite and steel would crumble! Soldiers and their weapons would be powerless before the onslaught of The Beast! The Beast! The Beast! The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms!
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 science fiction film produced by Warner Bros. Entertainment. It was based on the story "The Fog Horn" by Ray Bradbury. The movie was released to American theaters on June 13, 1953.
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Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Eugène Lourié
- Written by Lou Morheim, Fred Freiberger, Ray Bradbury, Daniel James, Eugène Lourié, and Robert Smith
- Produced by Jack Dietz, Hal E. Chester, and Bernard W. Burton
- Music by David Buttolph
- Cinematography by John L. Russell
- Edited by Bernard W. Burton
- Assistant directing by Horace Hough
- Special effects by Willis Cook, Ray Harryhausen, George Lofgren, and Eugène Lourié
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Paul Hubschmid as Professor Tom Nesbitt (as Paul Christian)
- Paula Raymond as Dr. Lee Hunter
- Cecil Kellaway as Dr. Thurgood Elson
- Kenneth Tobey as Colonel Jack Evans
- Donald Woods as Captain Phillip Jackson
- Lee Van Cleef as Corporal Stone
- Steve Broodie as Sergeant Loomis
- Ross Elliott as Professor George Ritchie
- Jack Pennick as Jacob Bowman
- Ray Hyke as Sergeant Willistead
- Paula Hill as Miss Ryan (as Mary Hill)
- Micheal Fox as Emergency Room Doctor
- Alvin Greenman as First Radar Man
- Frank Ferguson as Dr. Morton
- King Donovan as Dr. Ingersoll
- Merv Griffin as Voice of Announcer and Bespectacled Man
- Fred Aldrich as Radio Operator
- James Best as Charlie - Radar Man
- Edward Clark as Lighthouse Keeper
- Loise Colombet as Nun / Nurse
- Robert Easton as Deckhand
- Roy Engel as Major Evans
- Franklyn Farnum as Balletgoer
- Bess Flowers as Balletgoer
- Joe Gray as Longshoreman
- Kenner G. Kemp as Police Officer with Rifle
- Jimmy Lloyd as Soldier
- Vivian Mason as Miss Ryan - Secretary
- Vera Miles as Woman in Tailor
- Steve Mitchell as Police Officer
- Paul Picerni as Man in Trailer
- Hugh Prosser as Doctor
- William Woodson as Voice of Opening Narrator and Radio Announcer
Weapons, vehicles, and races
Following the wild success of a 1952 re-release of King Kong, Mutual Films founders Jack Dietz and Hal E. Chester decided to make a giant monster movie of their own. It was the first in the genre to connect a monster's emergence with nuclear testing. No less than five writers worked on the script, which was originally titled The Monster from Beneath the Sea. First-time director Eugène Lourié and blacklisted screenwriter Daniel James wrote one version, Louis Morheim and Robert Smith's names appear on the shooting script, and on-screen credit ultimately went to Morheim and Fred Freiberger. Upon reading a version of the script, famed science-fiction author Ray Bradbury noted the resemblance to his 1951 short story "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", specifically the scene where the Rhedosaurus attacks a lighthouse. Mutual Films soon bought the rights to the story from him, changing the film's title to reflect its new "inspiration". Bradbury later retitled his story "The Fog Horn".
Eugène Lourié shot on location in New York City over the course of a weekend, filming scenes on Wall Street and at the Fulton Fish Market. The Cyclone Racer in Long Beach, California, stood in for the Coney Island roller coaster featured in the climax. The Rhedosaurus was a stop-motion model animated by Ray Harryhausen, in his first feature-length assignment since Mighty Joe Young in 1949. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms marked the debut of his Dynamation technique, though he had yet to give it that name, in which a stop-motion character would move between a live-action background and foreground, with the former achieved through rear projection and the latter composited in later.
- Main article: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms/Gallery.
- Main article: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (Soundtrack).
- The Monster from Beneath the Sea (Working title)
- Panic in New York (Panik in New York; West Germany)
- The Awakening of the Dinosaur (Il Risveglio del Dinosauro; Italy)
- Atom Monster Appears (原子怪獣現わる; Japan)
- The Monster of the Sea (El Monstruo del Mar; Mexico)
- The Monster of Lost Time (Le Monstre des Temps Perdus; Belgium)
- The Monster of Remote Times (El Monstruo de Tiempos Remotos; Spain)
- United States - June 13, 1953 [view poster]
- Brazil - August 28, 1953
- West Germany - November 6, 1953 [view poster]
- Italy - January 1954 [view poster]
- Sweden - February 22, 1954
- Finland - March 26, 1954
- Denmark - March 29, 1954
- France - July 9, 1954
- Austria - July 16, 1954
- Portugal - December 12, 1954
- Japan - December 22, 1954
- Turkey - January 1955
- Mexico [view poster]
- Belgium [view poster]
- Spain [view poster]
Warner Bros. purchased the rights to The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms from Mutual Films for $410,000 and received a sizable return on its investment. Saturation booking and the then-novel practice of running ads on television led to box office returns in the $1.5-5 million range. The film's success inspired Warner Bros. to make its own atomic-monster film the following year, Them!, and led to a decade of imitators, including one who would far eclipse the Beast's fame: Godzilla.
Influence on Godzilla
Though The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms had not yet been released in Japan when Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka came up with the idea for Godzilla, he was certainly aware of its success in the States, titling his initial story proposal The Giant Monster from 20,000 Miles Under the Sea. Shigeru Kayama's treatment included a scene where Godzilla attacked a lighthouse, although Ishiro Honda and Takeo Murata removed it in their revisions. Like the Rhedosaurus, Godzilla was a dinosaur roused by nuclear testing who sank fishing vessels before coming ashore in a major city. But while the Rhedosaurus posed a threat primarily due to the ancient disease he spread, Godzilla's menace stemmed from his impossible size, destructive atomic breath, and immunity to modern weapons. Godzilla also contained a far more pointed anti-nuclear message than The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
- Special Features: "The Rhedosaurus and the Rollercoaster: Making the Beast" featurette (6 minutes), "Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship" featurette (17 minutes), trailers
- Notes: This disc has also been packaged with Them!, World Without End, and Satellite in the Sky, or Them! by itself.
Warner Home Video Blu-ray (2015)
- Region: A/1
- Disc: 1
- Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio Mono), French (Dolby Digital Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital Mono)
- Special Features: "The Rhedosaurus and the Rollercoaster: Making the Beast" featurette (6 minutes), "Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship" featurette (17 minutes), trailer
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