Review: The Incredible Shrinking Man

Grant Williams, after coming into contact with a mist-like radioactive substance on holiday with wife Randy Stuart, wakes up the next day to find his clothes no longer fit him. Doctors are baffled and helpless to stop the shrinking process, though Stuart tries to be supportive, even as Williams’ mood swings wildly. Before long he has shrunk to such a small stature that even the family cat can pose a major threat to him, let alone a giant-looking spider. He becomes fatalistic, feeling helpless and alone in the world, fighting for survival but with an uncertain long-term future. William Schallert plays a doctor, and in an unfortunate bit of casting, ‘regular’-sized April Kent plays a little person who has learned to adjust better than Williams (it’s less egregious that Kent be a ‘regular’-sized person given the extraordinary circumstances of his shrinkage. And my humble apologies to little people across the world for the unfortunate- but necessary- use of the term ‘regular’, I can’t think of another descriptive term more suitable).

This 1957 Jack Arnold B-classic, is now regarded as one of the best sci-fi films of the era (and possibly one of the best B-movies ever made, along with Arnold’s seminal monster movie “Creature From the Black Lagoon”), with inventive special FX for the time, and a story both thoughtful and fascinating (if occasionally in bad taste).

All it needed was a good group of actors and it might’ve made it pretty high on to my list of favourite films of any era or genre…unfortunately, most of the performances are a bit stiff. Still, it packs a wallop for a film with such a cheesy title.

A must for any sci-fi fan, this has been much imitated (“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” etc), but never bettered. The screenplay is by Richard Matheson (“House of Usher”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, and author of “I Am Legend”) from his same-titled novel. If you don’t get enjoyment out of this film, there is seriously something wrong with you.

Rating: A-


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