The Incredible Shrinking Man
|The Incredible Shrinking Man|
Original film poster by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Jack Arnold|
|Produced by||Albert Zugsmith|
|Written by||Richard Matheson|
|Screenplay by||Richard Matheson
Richard Alan Simmons (uncredited)
|Based on||The Shrinking Man|
|Narrated by||Grant Williams|
Hans J. Salter
|Cinematography||Ellis W. Carter|
|Editing by||Albrecht Joseph|
|Distributed by||Universal Studios|
|Running time||81 min.|
|Box office||$1.43 million (US)|
The Incredible Shrinking Man is a 1957 science fiction film directed by Jack Arnold and adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson from his novel The Shrinking Man (ISBN 0575074639). The film stars Grant Williams and Randy Stuart. The opening credits musical theme is by an uncredited Irving Gertz, with a trumpet solo performed by Ray Anthony.
The film won the very first Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant and will be preserved for all time.
Robert Scott Carey (Grant Williams), is a businessman who is on vacation with his wife Louise (Randy Stuart) on a boat off the California coast. When Louise goes below deck momentarily, a large, strange cloud on the horizon passes over the craft, leaving a reflective mist on Scott's bare skin. Louise is slightly alarmed when she comes above deck, and the two are puzzled by the phenomena that disappears as quickly as it had it shown up.
However, one morning six months later, Scott, who is normally 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) tall and 190 pounds, notices that his shirt and slacks seem too big and blames it on the laundry service. As this trend continues, he believes he is shrinking and sees his physician, Dr. Bramson (William Schallert) who reassures him that he is in perfect health and that "people just don't get shorter." Louise also dismisses his fears as silly, stating that he has simply been losing weight, but he continues to lose height as well as weight. Louise becomes concerned when Scott points out that she no longer needs to tiptoe to kiss him.
Several visits to the doctor over the course of a week results in x-ray proof that Scott is, beyond a doubt, getting smaller. His doctor refers him to the prominent laboratory, the California Medical Research Institute, and after nearly three weeks of numerous sophisticated tests, Scott and his team of new doctors learn that the mist to which he was exposed six months earlier while on the ocean was radioactive. This, combined with an accidental exposure to a large amount of common insecticide four months later, has set off a chain-reaction that has enabled a rearranging of Scott's molecular structure, causing his cells to shrink his body, forcing a proportionate diminution.
Scott continues to both shrink proportionately in size. His story hits the headlines and he becomes a national curiosity. He can no longer drive a car, and has to give up his job working for his brother, Charlie (Paul Langton) who encourages him to make some money off of his story by selling it to the national press. He begins keeping a journal, to be published as a record of his experience. As things continue, Scott feels humiliated and expresses his shame by lashing out at Louise, who is reduced to tears of despair because of their situation.
Then, it seems, an antidote is found for Scott's affliction: it arrests his shrinking when he is 36½ inches (93 cm) tall and weighs 52 pounds (24 kg). Despite halting his diminution, he is told that he will never return to his former size unless a cure is found, and that the antidote will only arrest the shrinking. Still, he tries to become content to remain a three-foot tall adult and accept this prognosis, but in a moment of extreme self-loathing he runs out of the house, his first time being outside since he sold his story.
At a neighborhood coffee shop near a carnival, he meets and becomes friends with a female dwarf named Clarice (April Kent), who is proportionately his equal, with him being slightly taller. She is appearing in a sideshow and persuades him that life isn't all negative being their size. Inspired, he begins to work on his book again. Two weeks later, during one of Scott's conversations with his new small friend, he suddenly notices he has become even shorter than her, meaning the antidote has stopped working. Exasperated, he runs away, ending his brief friendship with Clarice.
After becoming small enough to fit inside a dollhouse, Scott becomes more tyrannical with Louise, simultaneously wanting courage to end what he calls his "wretched existence" while hoping that his doctors can save him. He is attacked by his own cat one day when Louise has quickly left on an errand, and winds up accidentally trapped in the basement of his home. Returning to find a bloody scrap of Scott's clothing, Louise tearfully assumes that her husband has met his end, and his undignified death is announced to the world.
Meanwhile, Scott then goes through the odyssey of navigating his own basement that, at his current size, is a cavernous, inhospitable world. He battles a voracious spider, his own hunger, and the fear that he may eventually shrink down to nothing. Now so small he can escape the basement by walking through a space in a window screen, he accepts his fate and is resigned to the adventure of seeing what awaits him in even smaller realms. He knows he will eventually shrink to atomic size; but, no matter how small he becomes, he concludes he will still matter in the universe and this thought gives him comfort and ends his fears of the future.
- Grant Williams as Scott Carey
- Randy Stuart as Louise Carey
- April Kent as Clarice
- Paul Langton as Charlie Carey
- Raymond Bailey as Doctor Thomas Silver
- William Schallert as Doctor Arthur Bramson
- Frank J. Scannell as Barker (as Frank Scannell)
- Helene Marshall as Nurse
- Diana Darrin as Nurse
- Billy Curtis as Midget
The film was very well received by critics. It has a fresh 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In addition to its selection for the National Registry in 2009 by the National Film Preservation Board, it won the 1958 Hugo award for that year's best science fiction or fantasy dramatic presentation.
Sequel and remakes 
Matheson wrote a film treatment for a sequel titled Fantastic Little Girl (alternately titled The Fantastic Shrinking Girl), but the film was never produced. The story, in which Louise Carey follows her husband into a microscopic world, and after finding him, begins to grow in size together with him, then returning to the basement of their original home to battle a rat in the finale, was later published in 2006 by Gauntlet Press in a collection titled Unrealized Dreams.
The Incredible Shrinking Woman, a credited comic remake released by Universal Pictures in 1981, features Lily Tomlin, as the wife of an advertising executive, and in a similar predicament as a result of exposure to chemicals from household products.
In 2010, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment were talking of producing another comedy remake starring Eddie Murphy. The film rights would later lapse, and in February 2013, MGM announced a new adaptation of The Shrinking Man with Matheson co-scripting with his son, Richard Jr.
DVD release 
The Incredible Shrinking Man has been released on both Region 1 and Region 2 DVDs by Universal Studios.
See also 
- The Amazing Colossal Man, a 1957 film, released six months later
- The Incredible Melting Man, a 1977 film
- "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
- "25 new titles added to National Film Registry". Yahoo News (Yahoo). 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2009-12-30.[dead link]
- IMDB.com awards.
- The Fantastic Shrinking Girl film treatment by Richard Matheson
- Reflections of a Storyteller: A Conversation with Richard Matheson William P. Simmons, Cemetery Dance magazine
- "Remake Watch: The Incredible Shrinking Man". SciFi Movie Page. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- Kit, Borys. "MGM Rebooting 'Shrinking Man' With Author Richard Matheson and Son Writing." The Hollywood Reporter (February 13, 2013).
- The Incredible Shrinking Man at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Incredible Shrinking Man at the Internet Movie Database
- The Incredible Shrinking Man at AllRovi
- The Incredible Shrinking Man at the TCM Movie Database