Monday, September 21, 2009

1958 Hugo for Outstanding Movie – THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN

I’ve decided to throw in the “dramatic presentation” category as well (simply called “movie” the first time it was awarded in 1958). One, it gives me a chance to talk about some very iconic and essential moments in science fiction history. Two, I’ve seen almost all of the winners.

I had not seen the first film though. The Incredible Shrinking Man, believe it or not, tells the story of Scott Carey, a man who begins to shrink after being exposed to a strange cloud. He goes through a lot of angst, including trouble with his wife, but he starts to feel better when he stabilizes and starts hanging out with little people from a local circus. Soon, however, he starts shrinking again, and he moves into a dollhouse. Everyone comes to believe that Scott is killed by his house cat (I know from personal experience that cats are, indeed, evil), and he’s left on his own in a struggle for survival at two inches tall.

Thrilling? Kind of. Sometimes. I wouldn’t call this a must-see classic. The film’s second half, covering Scott’s efforts at survival, is where the movie really takes off. The first half tries to make some interesting points about Scott’s little person alienation, but these are a bit awkward and Grant Williams‘ performance is overwrought.

Overall, it’s a bit of a surprising choice for the first film/tv Hugo. Not that 1957 was such a banner year for science fiction in film (sorry Attack of the Crab Monsters, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, and The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy). Still, Hugo did show a willingness to skip this particular award when nothing seemed up to snuff (even in years when there were nominees!).

The film’s finale was probably the most surprising and intriguing thing about it, and I believe it’s in those final contemplative sixty seconds that the filmmakers bagged their Hugo.

Grade: B-

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