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Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Jack Pollexfen|
|Produced by||Jack Pollexfen|
|Written by||Vy Russell|
|Starring||Lon Chaney Jr.|
|Music by||Albert Glasser|
|Cinematography||John L. Russell|
|Edited by||Fred R. Feitshans Jr.|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists Pictures|
Indestructible Man is a 1956 American crime horror science fiction film, an original screenplay by Vy Russell and Sue Dwiggins for producer-director Jack Pollexfen and starring Lon Chaney, Jr., Ross Elliott and Robert Shayne.
The picture was produced independently by C.G.K. Productions, and distributed in the United States by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation. The film was distributed theatrically in 1956 on a double bill with World Without End (and in some areas with Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
Told in a narrative style, popularized by the television police series Dragnet, by police detective Dick Chasen (Max Showalter), the story concerns a 72-hour period of horror for the city of Los Angeles. Charles "Butcher" Benton (Chaney) is a double-crossed convicted robber and murderer who was executed in the gas chamber. His body is unlawfully sold to a scientist (Robert Shayne) who plans to move his experiments into the cause and cure of cancer to human subjects. Benton's corpse is subjected to chemical injection and massive jolts of high-voltage electricity in order to study the effect on human tissues. But Benton's heart is restimulated and he completely revives (though rendered mute due to electrical damage to his vocal cords), immensely strong and with skin virtually impervious to scalpels, police bullets, even to bazooka shells.
After killing the doctor and his assistant (Joe Flynn), Benton sets out to avenge himself on his two henchmen and his attorney (Ross Elliott) who, in collusion with the attorney, had betrayed Benton in order to steal his loot. Benton had left the location of his stash to his stripper-girlfriend (Marian Carr), who had since gone straight and begun dating the detective who brought Benton to justice, after she had rejected the lawyer's own advances.
The story then follows Benton's revenge on his enemies; the police who first learn of a wave of mysterious killings, then of Benton's reanimation; and the developing relationship between the detective and the stripper. The lawyer, fearing for his life after the two henchman are murdered, confesses the plot to the police, and reveals that Benton had always used the sewer system to evade detection; and to find a hiding place for the money, as it turns out.
Tracked down by the police, Benton takes a direct hit in the solar plexus from a bazooka, and is heavily burned by a flame thrower. Weakened, he flees to a power station, where he climbs atop a gantry, inadvertently setting it in motion. As he watches the actions of the police down below, he fails to notice the gantry is moving toward the main power terminals. A dangling hook catches on a wire, and the gantry erupts in sparks as masses of electricity surge throughout its metal frame, searing Benton to ashes. On a quiet night a few days later, Chasen successfully proposes to his girlfriend.
- Lon Chaney, Jr. as Charles "Butcher" Benton
- Casey Adams as Lt. Richard Chasen
- Marian Carr as Eva Martin
- Ross Elliott as Paul Lowe
- Stuart Randall as Capt. John Lauder
- Marvin Press* as Henchman "Squeamy" Ellis
- Ken Terrell as Henchman Joe Marcelli
- Roy Engel as The Desk Sergeant
- Robert Foulk as Harry the Bartender
- Robert Shayne as Dr. Bradshaw
- Joe Flynn as Bradshaw's Assistant (uncredited)
- Peggy Maley as Francine, a stripper
- Marjorie Bennett as Floozie at Bar
* Marvin Press was misidentified as Marvin Ellis (the last name of his character) in all the film's publicity. Worse, his name was entirely omitted from the screen cast list.
- Ted Holsopple as Art Director
- John Russell, Jr. as Director of Photography
- Fred Feitshans, Jr. as Film Editor
- Albert Glasser as "Music"
- Chris Beute as Production Manager
- Names Unknown for Set Decorator, Makeup Artist, Wardrobe Supervisor, Property Master, Miniatures and Special Effects, and Sound (any)
- Chaney has almost no dialogue in the film. His character's emotions were shown through extreme close-ups of his face.
- Angels Flight appears prominently in this film.
- The Bradbury Building interior is featured prominently in this film.
Production stills exist of scenes not in the film as released. One shows Butcher Benton at a jail where a policeman's body lies on the ground as Benton carries off Eva Martin. The scene logically came after the police threatened to release Paul Lowe from custody if he does not reveal the location of Benton's loot, and before the scene where it is revealed Eva has checked herself out of a hospital, presumably after recovering from unspecified injuries. Presumably, this scene is where Benton made good on his threat to get Paul Lowe, breaking into the jail to do it.
Although Joe Flynn played a serious role in this film, audiences laughed at him. This convinced him that comedy was his forte, and he later specialized in comedic roles, most memorably as the irascible Captain Binghamton on TV's McHale's Navy (1962-66).
The full story of the making of the movie (complete with interviews with some of the participants) plus the script and pressbook are featured in the book "Scripts from the Crypt: 'Indestructible Man'" (BearManor, 2015) by Tom Weaver.
In popular culture
- John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats wrote and performed "Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece" as an homage to one of the lines Chaney delivers to his double-crossing lawyer in Indestructable Man.
The film has been released by numerous studios as a "bargain bin" disc. In addition, the MST3K version of the film has been released by Rhino Home Video as part of the Collection, Volume 11 box set.
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