The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

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The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms soundtrack

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
An Australian poster for The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Directed by Eugène Lourié
Producer(s) Jack Dietz,
Hal E. Chester,
Bernard W. Burton
Written by Lou Morheim,
Fred Freiberger,
Ray Bradbury,
Daniel James,
Eugène Lourié,
Robert Smith
Music by David Buttolph
Distributor Warner Bros.
Rating Not rated
Budget $210,000[1]
Box office $1,500,000-$5,000,000[1]
Running time 80 minutes
(1 hour, 20 minutes)
Aspect ratio 1.37:1
Rate this film!
(47 votes)

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!

— Trailer

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

  • Douglas C-47 Skytrain


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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1] The Cyclone Racer in Long Beach, California, stood in for the Coney Island roller coaster featured in the climax.[2] 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).

Alternate titles

  • 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)

Theatrical releases

  • United States - June 13, 1953
  • Brazil - August 28, 1953
  • West Germany - November 6, 1953  [view poster]German poster
  • Italy - January 1954  [view poster]Italian poster
  • Sweden - February 22, 1954
  • Finland - March 26, 1954
  • Denmark - March 29, 1954
  • France - July 9, 1954
  • Austria - July 16, 1954  [view poster]Australian poster
  • Portugal - December 12, 1954
  • Japan - December 22, 1954
  • Turkey - January 1955
  • Mexico  [view poster]Mexican poster
  • Belgium  [view poster]Belgian poster
  • Spain  [view poster]Spanish poster
  • Greece
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Turkey

Box office

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.[1] 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.[3] 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.

Video releases

Warner Home Video DVD (2003)[4]

  • 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



The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms Trailer


This is a list of references for The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Bill Warren. Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. McFarland & Company, Inc.. pp. 91, 93, 94. 2016. ISBN: 9781476666181. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Warren" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Tim Grobaty. Location Filming in Long Beach. Arcadia Publishing. 2012. ISBN: 1614237751.
  3. August Ragone. Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters. Chronicle Books. p. 34. 2007. ISBN: 9780811860789.
  4. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (2003) Warner Home Video


Showing 7 comments. When commenting, please remain respectful of other users, stay on topic, and avoid role-playing and excessive punctuation. Comments which violate these guidelines may be removed by administrators.

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one month ago
Score 1
We need to bring back movies like these!!!!!!

Godzilla Master

4 months ago
Score 0
I really want to see this movie.

King GodDoraDanOnRa

8 months ago
Score 1
The poster says “ Not suitable for Children. “ Why not?


9 days ago
Score 1
They said "not suitable for children" bc they thought the monster would be too scary,i mean they took out the lost spider pit scene bc everyone thought it was too "scary".


14 months ago
Score 0
Looks like a loch ness on legs.


35 months ago
Score 2
I'm still surprised how this film didn't get a colored version of it.

Toa Hydros

37 months ago
Score 2

My Thoughts: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Though not perfect, there's no denying this film's significance in the history of giant monster movies.

Obviously, the main star of the movie is the Rhedosaurus brought to life by Ray Harryhausen, whose skill in stop motion has obviously improved since his earlier work; though not quite on par with some of his later projects, he nonetheless makes the Rhedosaurus move and behave like a lifelike animal. By far my favorite moment in the movie is the famous lighthouse attack scene; I just love the way the Beast lunges at and wrestles with the crumbling structure. It's just so freak'n cool. As for the Rhedosaurus itself, it's design is simplistic, but striking at the same time. Plus that roar is just chilling.

The human characters are a bit dull, and sort of cause the movie to drag during the first half. Despite this, they are well acted (the Professor in particular just has this infectious charm about him), and aren't COMPLETE bores like there counterparts in other monster movies.

The plot is a bit simplistic, but considering this was one of the first films (if not THE first) to utilized the "monster awoken by atomic testing" archetype, it is executed well enough, and the fact that the Beast is a plague-carrier adds an unexpected twist.

Overall, while the movie may be considered a bit tame compared to later generations of sci-fi flicks, its lasting impact on the giant monster genre can't be denied. Like "King Kong" before it, the movie has gone on to inspire movies and movie-makers alike, and were it not for this film, we may never have gotten Godzilla, Gamera, or even the entire kaiju genre.
Warner Bros.