It Came from Beneath the Sea

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It Came from Beneath the Sea
It Came From Beneath The Sea poster.jpg
film poster
Directed by Robert Gordon
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Written by Hal Smith
George Worthing Yates
Starring Kenneth Tobey
Faith Domergue
Donald Curtis
Music by Mischa Bakeleinikoff
Cinematography Henry Freulich
Editing by Jerome Thoms
Studio Clover Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates July 1955 (U.S. release)
Running time 79 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150,000[1]
Box office $1.7 million (US)[2]

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) is an American science fiction film produced by Sam Katzman and Charles Schneer for Columbia Pictures, from a script by George Worthing Yates designed to showcase the special model-animated effects of Ray Harryhausen. It was directed by Robert Gordon and stars Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, and Donald Curtis. Much of the filming was done at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, including scenes aboard a submarine, and several naval personnel were given supporting roles.

Columbia distributed as well as produced, making available their Creature with the Atom Brain as a second feature for double bill bookings.[3]

Plot[edit]

A nuclear submarine on patrol maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean captained by Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey), comes into contact with something the sonar determines is massive. The boat is disabled but manages to free itself and dock at Pearl Harbor. There it is discovered animal tissue of great proportions has jammed in its dive planes. A man-and-woman team of marine biologists, Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) and John Carter (Donald Curtis), is called in, and they identify the tissue as part of a gigantic octopus. The military authorities scoff at this explanation, but are finally persuaded to investigate upon receiving reports of missing bathers, and ships pulled under the water by some living thing. Over the following two weeks, as John and Lesley continue their investigation, Pete shows a personal interest in Lesley, who is only eager to return to her own research. The scientists conclude the octopus is from the Mindanao Deep and has been forced out of its natural habitat due to hydrogen bomb testing in the area. The testing has rendered the octopus radioactive, and this radioactivity drives off its natural food supply.[4]

John and Lesley speculate that unexplained disappearances of a Japanese fishing fleet and a Siberian seal boat may have been due to the octopus. Pete and the Navy representatives express doubt over this hypothesis, however, and demand further proof. Later, as Pete assists John and Lesley with departure arrangements, a report comes in of an attack on a French shipping boat, from which several men escaped in a raft. John and Lesley are once again pressed into service for the government. The French survivors are questioned by psychiatrists, but when the first sailor's description of an attack by a creature with giant tentacles is met with skepticism, the other sailors refuse to testify. Lesley is able to convince the first sailor to repeat his story for the government officials, who now have the evidence they need to back up the scientists' premise. The government then halts all sea traffic in the North Pacific without revealing the reason to other countries. John flies out to sea to trace a missing ship, while Pete and Lesley follow up a report of three missing people on the coast of Oregon.

The local sheriff, Bill Nash (Harry Lauter), takes them to the site of the attack along the beach, where they find a giant suction imprint in the sand and request that John join them. While waiting, Pete and Lesley fish all day to no avail, and are convinced that the giant creature may be in the vicinity. After John arrives and the imprint is definitively identified as octopus, Pete demands Lesley leave the project, which now threatens to become dangerous, but she steadfastly refuses.

When Bill is attacked along the beach by the creature in front of the scientists, they hastily arrange for the entire Pacific coast waters to be mined before departing for San Francisco and the Navy's central headquarters. An electrified safety net is strung underwater across the entrance to San Francisco Bay to protect the Golden Gate Bridge, which is also wired. John takes a helicopter along the shore and baits the sea with dead sharks in an effort to lure the octopus back inland. Lesley demonstrates to reporters a special jet-propelled atomic torpedo, with which they hope to shoot the creature and then drive it to sea before detonating the device. Later that day, the giant octopus demolishes the net across the Bay and heads toward San Francisco.

The Navy orders the Golden Gate Bridge abandoned, but when John learns that the electric circuit on the bridge remains on, races out to shut it off. The creature then catches sight of the bridge and immediately becomes enraged. The bridge is attacked by the creature, but Pete rescues John before one section collapses. The residents of the city panic and begin a mass exodus down the peninsula, as the Navy struggles to evacuate the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building, which is then battered by the octopus. When several more people are attacked, the Defense Department authorizes Pete to launch his submarine and the atomic warhead. John joins Pete while Lesley remains at the base. Flame throwers push the octopus back into the sea, but when Pete shoots the creature, it grabs the submarine. Using an aqualung, Pete swims out to the octopus and places explosive charges on it before being knocked out by the creature's flailing arms. John then swims out, shoots the octopus in the eye, forcing it to release the ship, and pulls Pete to safety. Back at the base, as the creature turns toward open sea, the torpedo is detonated, destroying the giant octopus. Later, while celebrating, Lesley agrees to continue seeing Pete after she and John finish their next research project.[5]

Cast[edit]

  • Kenneth Tobey as Commander Pete Mathews
  • Faith Domergue as Professor Lesley Joyce
  • Donald Curtis as Dr. John Carter
  • Ian Keith as Admiral Burns
  • Dean Maddox Jr. as Admiral Norman
  • Chuck Griffiths as Lieutenant Griff

Production[edit]

To keep shooting costs low, director Robert Gordon shot inside an actual submarine, both above and under water, using handheld cameras. For a scene that takes place on a stretch of Pacific coastline, Gordon and his crew dumped several truckloads of sand onto a soundstage at Columbia, which they backed with a rear screen projection. During their scene together, Kenneth Tobey found himself sinking through the sand to the point of appearing shorter than Faith Domergue on camera, forcing him to dig himself out of the hole between every take. A more extensive love scene had been written for the characters but was literally torn out of the shooting script by Sam Katzman, to keep principal photography from going over schedule.

The octopus effects were done by Ray Harryhausen; however, the budget was getting slightly out of hand. For this reason, Katzman allowed Harryhausen only enough money to animate six of the octopus' arms and two were cut off. So Harryhausen jokingly named the giant octopus "the sixtopus." For some of the scenes where it is poking up through the bridge, the team used a single large tentacle instead of the complete model. Some of the bridge scenes used a model of the bridge support which was then pasted below the real span of the bridge; it was this part that the octopus clung on to.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  3. ^ The Top 21 Most Kick-Ass Giant Monsters in Movie History!
  4. ^ "It-Came-From-Beneath-the-Sea - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. April 23, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ "It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) - Overview". TCM.com. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ Dalton, Tony. Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life. London: Aurum, 2003, p. 73.

External links[edit]