21 May 2024
Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956)
80 min.
Directed Ishirô Honda.
With Raymond Burr, Takashi Shimura, Momoko Kôchi, Akira Takarada, Akihiko Hirata, Frank Iwanaga, Toyoaki Suzuki,Toranosuke Ogawa, Kokuten Kodo, Fuyuki Murakami.
The quintessential Japanese monster flick, Godzilla remains the definitive prototype of the creature-run-amok features of the 1950s, itself spawning nearly two dozen sequels, countless imitations and seemingly limitless merchandising.

The story: near primitive Odo Island in the Pacific, underwater H-bomb tests accidentally revive a mammoth prehistoric lizard that's been buried for millennia deep in the ocean's depths. The superstitious locals have named this mythic creature of destruction 'Godzilla'.

Now, freshly awakened - and angry as hell - the huge fire-breathing dinosaur begins an assault on metropolitan Tokyo, the likes of which has never been seen before.

American investigative journalist Steve Martin (Burr) reports the devastating news back to the United States. But how long can he (not to mention the millions of Tokyo city residents) survive the rampage of Godzilla?

Terrific sci fi horror from beginning to end, Godzilla is a triumph of black & white moodiness, one of the first (and certainly the best) masterpieces to come from the then newly-minted Atomic Age.

Gotta love the special FX, especially 'Zilla's incendiary bad breath, which has a charm all its own. Great theme music from composer Akira Ifukube.

Note: this US version of Godzilla is a reworking of the original Gojira (1954) released two years prior; American producers took the 98 minute Gojira feature, re-edited it, hired Burr as a leading man, and inserted new scenes.

Purists will no doubt want to take a look at both this US version and the Japanese original.

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