IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955) Reviews and overview

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‘Out of primordial depths to destroy the world!’
It Came from Beneath the Sea is a 1955 American science-fiction feature film about a giant octopus attacking the Pacific coast of the USA. The octopus was disturbed and energised by radioactive weapon tests.

Directed by Robert Gordon from a screenplay written by George Worthing Yates and Harold Jacob Smith (as Hal Smith), based on a storyline by George Worthing Yates, the Clover Productions movie stars Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis and Ian Keith. It was produced by Sam Katzman (executive producer) and Charles H. Schneer.

The octopus stop-motion effects were designed and animated by Ray Harryhausen. Six legs were used rather than eight to make the process easier.

It Came from Beneath the Sea would be pretty damned forgettable if it weren’t for Ray Harryhausen […] Kenneth Tobey basically rehashes his performance from The Thing, but this time around, he doesn’t have the benefit of that movie’s snappy dialogue to disguise his limitations as an actor. Faith Domergue fares a bit better as Doctor Joyce…” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Although the film essays a paranoid view of the pitfalls of atomic power, it is the atomic submarine which eventually saves the day. This offers the typically contradictory view of the majority of these mutated monster movies. What begins as a potentially subversive and radical statement about the abuses of nuclear power concludes conservatively, and celebrates the efficiency of the power, a power that caused the problem in the first place.” The Celluloid Highway

“The spectacle of Harryhausen’s work aside, It Came From Beneath the Sea displays all the weaknesses of cheapie postwar creature features. The budget was so small that the octopus has only six tentacles. Robert Gordon directed in the flavorless, stilted style of an army hygiene film, complete with stern narration. The first half of its 78 minutes is molasses-slow…” The DVD Journal

“Valuing effects and spectacle for their own sake is generally frowned upon, and it’s not like It Came From Beneath the Sea doesn’t have other things going for it (Domergue is especially lovely as the plucky, refreshingly progressive as Lesley Joyce); however, to deny that as a valid approach is short-sighted and misses the pure joy begat by Harryhausen…” Oh, the Horror!

“While Harryhausen’s effects are definitely the real star of the film, the performances from Kenneth Tobey as the tough-as-nails, chain-smoking Navy man and Faith Domergue as the smart and sassy scientist are also both worth noting and better than the average 50s monster movie performances tend to be.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Although it is ostensibly about a giant stop-motion octopus attacking San Francisco bridge, most of It Came From Beneath the Sea‘s running time is concerned with an oily submarine captain (played by The Thing from Another World‘s Kenneth Tobey) hitting on an attractive female co-worker.” Sci-Fi Movie Page

“Although the budgetary constraints are occasionally evident–I really think Katzman and Gordon’s vision for the Golden Gate bridge sequence mixing live-action actors with animated monster mayhem outstripped the money and time at their disposal–this is still a film that’s well worth the time of anyone who enjoys 1950s sci-fi flicks.” Shades of Action

“Even at this relatively early stage in his career, Harryhausen was displaying a mastery of his medium, and the giant abomination giving the human cast such a headache was a highly amusing creation. The rest was a bit of a trial.” The Spinning Image

Cast and characters:
Kenneth Tobey … Commander Pete Mathews
Faith Domergue … Professor Lesley Joyce
Donald Curtis … Doctor John Carter
Ian Keith … Admiral Burns
Dean Maddox Jr. … Admiral Norman
Chuck Griffiths … Lt. Griff, USN
Harry Lauter … Deputy Bill Nash
Richard W. Peterson … Captain Stacy
Tol Avery … Navy Intern
William Bryant … Helicopter Pilot
Del Courtney … Naval Asst. Sec. Robert David Chase
Roy Engel … Control Room Officer
Eddie Fisher … McLeod
Sam Hayes … Radio Newscaster
Jules Irving … King
Jack Littlefield … Aston
Rudy Puteska … Seaman Hall
Ray Storey … Reporter
William Woodson … Opening Narrator

Technical details:
79 minutes
Audio: Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

It Came from Beneath the Sea was released by Columbia Pictures as the top half of a double-bill with Creature with the Atom Brain

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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