The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

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Image gallery for The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
Credits for The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms soundtrack

Eugène Lourié's dinosaur trilogy
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
The Giant Behemoth
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
An American poster for The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png The Atomic Monster Appears (1954)
See alternate titles
Directed by Eugène Lourié
Producer Jack Dietz, Hal E. Chester
Written by Lou Morheim, Fred Freiberger:
Robert Smith (uncredited)[1]
Music by David Buttolph
effects by
Ray Harryhausen, Willis Cook
Production company Mutual Pictures of California[2]
Distributor Warner Bros.US, DaieiJP[3]
Rating Not Rated
Budget $210,000[1]
Box office $2.25[4]-5 million[1]
Running time 80 minutes
(1 hour, 20 minutes)
Aspect ratio 1.37:1
Rate this film!
(29 votes)

For the titular monster, see the 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!

— Trailer

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 science fiction giant monster film directed by Eugène Lourié and written by Lou Morheim, Fred Freiberger, and Robert Smith based on Ray Bradbury's 1951 short story "The Fog Horn," with stop motion effects by Ray Harryhausen. Produced by Mutual Pictures of California,[2] it was released to American Warner Bros. Pictures on June 13, 1953.


A nuclear bomb is set off in the Arctic as a test. Tom Nesbitt and George Ritchie go on patrol near the area of the blast. Suddenly, a giant prehistoric monster creates an avalanche, injuring Nesbitt and killing Ritchie. After waking up in a New York hospital, Nesbitt tells his story, only to be dismissed as crazy. After searching around for someone who believes him, Nesbitt ends up meeting paleontologist Thurgood Elson and his assistant, Lee Hunter. Elson doesn't believe Nesbitt, but Hunter isn't so quick to dismiss him. She visits Nesbitt with drawings of every known dinosaur. After a lot of flipping through pictures, Nesbitt recognizes the one he saw, the Rhedosaurus. After a lot of trouble, he meets a survivor of a shipwreck who claims to have been attacked by a monster. When handed several of the dinosaur pictures, the survivor identifies the Rhedosaurus as the creature he saw. With this proof, Nesbitt goes back to Professor Elson, who is convinced and warns Colonel Jack Evans of the danger. As disaster after disaster occurs, Elson connects the dots and determines that the Rhedosaurus is coming to New York. Being very enthusiastic on the subject, Elson has a scientific expedition set up to find the monster. He also insists on going down in a bathysphere to see the Rhedosaurus up close. He gets his wish; the Rhedosaurus attacks the bathysphere offscreen, killing Elson. It doesn't take long before the beast finally reaches New York and goes on a rampage. The army is sent in to deal with the pest and manages to injure it. As the soldiers follow the trail of blood left behind by the Rhedosaurus, they start to collapse one by one. It is revealed that the Rhedosaurus' blood contains an unknown disease, meaning conventional weaponry is no longer an option. Nesbitt then gets the idea to shoot a radioactive isotope into the monster's wound, killing it without making a mess. The military then escorts Nesbitt and sharpshooter Corporal Stone to the amusement park where the Rhedosaurus is lurking. The two men then ride the roller coaster up to where Stone can get a clear shot. Stone pulls the trigger and scores a direct hit in the wound. The Rhedosaurus, now enraged with pain, starts thrashing around and starts a fire. The two men watch in horror as their ride starts rolling down the track without them. Thanks to quick thinking, they are able to make their way to safety, as they watch the Rhedosaurus' final moments.


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

  • Directed by   Eugène Lourié
  • Written by   Lou Morheim, Fred Freiberger; Robert Smith (uncredited)[1]
  • Based on "The Fog Horn" by   Ray Bradbury
  • Produced by   Jack Dietz, Hal E. Chester
  • Associate producer   Bernard W. Burton
  • Music by   David Buttolph
  • Cinematography by   John L. Russell
  • Edited by   Bernard W. Burton
  • First assistant director   Horace Hough
  • Special effects by   Willis Cook
  • Technical effects created by   Ray Harryhausen


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   announcer (voice) / 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   Ms. 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   narrator (voice) / radio announcer (voice)

Japanese dub

  • Shusei Nakamura   as   Professor Tom Nesbitt
  • Noriko Ohara   as   Dr. Lee Hunter
  • Toshiro Hayano   as   Dr. Thurgood Elson
  • Akira Kimura   as   Colonel Jack Evans
  • Kyoji Kobayashi   as   narrator (voice) / radio announcer (voice)



Weapons, vehicles, and races

  • Douglas C-47 Skytrain


When Jack Dietz and Hal E. Chester created Mutual Films in June 1951 as a new production and franchise distribution organization The Monster From Beneath the Sea was one of 16 film projects they had ready to go into production, After a year, and only one other Mutual production (Models, Inc), The Monster From Beneath the Sea was put into production, the last film the company ever made. 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. 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 onscreen 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.[5] Mutual Films soon bought the rights to the story from him, and when Warners bought the film from Mutual they changing the film's title to The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms reflect its "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.[6] The Rhedosaurus was a stop-motion model animated by Ray Harryhausen, in his first feature-length assignment since Mighty Joe Young (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)
  • The Atomic Monster Appears (原子怪獣現わる,   Genshi Kaijū Arawaru, Japan)
  • The Monster of the Sea (El Monstruo del Mar; Mexico; O Monstro do Mar; Brazil)
  • The Monster of Lost Time (Le Monstre des Temps Perdus; Belgium; O Monstro dos Tempos Perdidos; Portugal)
  • The Monster of Remote Times (El Monstruo de Tiempos Remotos; Spain)

Theatrical releases

  • United States - June 13, 1953  [view poster]American poster
  • Brazil - August 28, 1953  [view poster]Brazilian poster
  • Italy - October 24, 1953  [view poster]Italian poster
  • West Germany - November 6, 1953  [view poster]German poster
  • Sweden - February 22, 1954
  • Finland - March 26, 1954
  • Denmark - March 29, 1954  [view poster]Danish poster
  • France - July 9, 1954  [view poster]French poster
  • Austria - July 16, 1954
  • Portugal - December 13, 1954
  • Japan - December 22, 1954  [view poster]Japanese poster
  • Turkey - January 1955
  • Australia  [view poster]Australian poster
  • 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 $2.25 million in box office returns by the end of 1953[4] and up to $5 million total.[1] The film's success inspired Warner Bros. to make its own atomic monster film the following year, Them! (the first of the "big bug" films, a subgenre spawned from the "monster on the loose" films, as they came to be called), and led to a decade of imitators, including one who would far eclipse the Rhedosaurus' 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 aware of its success in the United States, even titling his initial story proposal The Giant Monster from 20,000 Miles Under the Sea.[7] 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 did.

Video releases

Warner Home Video DVD (2003)[8]

  • Region: 1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • 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 either Them!, World Without End, and Satellite in the Sky or with Them! by itself.

Warner Home Video Blu-ray (2015)

  • Region: A/1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital Mono), French (Dolby Digital Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Japanese
  • Special features: "The Rhedosaurus and the Rollercoaster: Making the Beast" featurette (6 minutes), "Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship" featurette (17 minutes), 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 1.6 1.7 Bill Warren (2016). Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 91, 93–94. ISBN 9781476666181.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rovin, Jeff (1989). The Encyclopedia of Monsters. Facts on File. p. 21. ISBN 0-8160-1824-3.
  3. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms Poster 1.jpg
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Top Grossers of 1953." Variety, January 13, 1954.
  5. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms DVD featurette: "Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship"
  6. Tim Grobaty (2012). Location Filming in Long Beach. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 1614237751.
  7. August Ragone (1 November 2007). Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters. Chronicle Books. p. 34. ISBN 9780811860789.
  8. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (2003) Warner Home Video


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