Sunday, October 14, 2007

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) Closeups

My second entry in the Oct 12-21, 2007 Close-Up Blogathon, sponsored by The House Next Door.

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) with special effects by Ray Harryhausen, features a gigantic octopus heading from the ocean towards San Francisco, and its eventual destruction.

Spoilers below.

The titles and list of credits rise up from beneath the sea.

Like many 1950s science fiction films, It Came From Beneath the Sea opens up in documentary fashion. A "newsreel" type voice tells us about the United States' mosst powerful weapon, the atomic submarine. First we get a closeup of the blueprints, then we see the sub itself in drydock. The voice details everything done to make it the best sub ever.

"The mind of man had thought of everything, except that which was beyond his comprehension."

Within the submarine, this closeup shows how cramped it is within a sub. Note the pipe blocking part of the view.

While on a shakedown cruise, the sub comes into contact with .... something. Something...radioactive. Bits of it are caught in the dive planes, and once the sub gets home, the stuff is brought to the greatest scientific minds in the land.

All new locations are identified by the close up of a sign of some kind.

Most 1950s science fiction films will have one female scientist, amonst the cast of at least two men (love triangle), and the rest of the military, also of course all male. Here - our first look at the female scientist in this film, played by Faith Domergue.

Female scientist emerges after changing out of her radioactive suit, but...wait for it...

Quick cut to a close up of her face. Yes, I am beautiful, aren't I?

Whenever a female scientist is in a 1950s movie, she's generally in a room with a bunch of military men, and its her task to convince the military minds that she knows what she's talking about and that they'd better listen to her about the monster/alien/etc.

What is the creature going around terrorizing the neighborhood? That's the question asked in a great many SF films. There's usually the clue of a footprint or similar... In Them! (1954) it was a single ant print, in ..Beneath the Sea, it's a single tentacle sucker....

One of two subjective closeups in the film, as the Admiral of the atomic sub and Faith Domergue's character watch from within the car as they head towards Golden Gate Bridge.

The octopus reaches the Golden Gate Bridge. One of its tentacles rises up over the bridge. We're shown it in closeup as it rises...and rises...and an impression of how large it is, before the camera draws back and we see it in its entirety (except for the two tentacles it persists in keeping beneath the waves).

[Harryhausen had a limited budget and couldn't afford to animate all 8 tentacles. So he only did 6.]

The other "subjective" closeup shots in the film. Two helicopter pilots see the gigantic tentacle of the octopus before it destroys them. This is the final shot of the scene, we don't see a long shot of the copter actually in the tentacle's grasp.

In the finale, the giant octopus has the sub in its grasp. The Admiral (Kenneth Tobey) has gone out in scuba gear to place an explosive charge on the beast. He's knocked unconsious, so the second man of the love triange with Faith Domergue, also goes out in scuba gear and recovers him. But within the sub, the First Officer doesn't know if they're alive or dead. He must issue the order to detonate the explosive charge, but note the distress on his face...

Fortunately, our two heroes managed to surface in time, and are rescued. The octopus is blown to bits, and alls well that ends well.

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