|Vintage Pulp||May 19 2018|
It's a man's man's man's world. Until now.
It was inevitable. You can't have a pulp website and not talk about the iconic GGA-influenced poster for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. This masterpiece came from the brush of Reynold Brown, who also painted promos for Creature from the Black Lagoon, Spartacus, Ben-Hur, and—ironically—The Incredible Shrinking Man. But 50 Foot Woman is the one people remember. It's the one that appears on t-shirts, lithographs, refrigerator magnets and spoof posters to this day. And for good reason. It's a perfect promo piece, from the execution, to the chaotic scene depicted, to the giant's straddle-legged pose that titillatingly suggests the world's most shocking upskirt shot. It also makes the film look far better than it is. You'd never think the 50 Foot Woman of the poster is, onscreen, mainly a big foam hand and some weak projection work.
The movie premiered today in 1958. It was directed by Nathan Juran under the pseudonym Nathan Hertz, and while it's mediocre it isn't close to being one of the worst films of the period. People remember it because of Allison Hayes' character, an unhappy wife whose growth into a giant gives her all the physical power she could ever want, but none of the emotional strength she needs to deal with her philandering husband Harry.
She's desperately in love with him, though he's a heel. When she eventually hunts him down the film becomes a feminist parable. We don't think that aspect was intentional, but it's definitely there by virtue of a male screenwriter creating a colossal feminine problem then determining how his male characters react to her. Guess what? She's fifty feet tall and still can't break through the glass ceiling.
The 50 Foot Woman has the power to deal with dirty Harry in a way he understands—dominance. Good. But she's also mad as hell and has busted out of her social niche. Bad. There's no attempt to reason with or negotiate with this newly empowered woman. Because she brings upheaval to the world elimination is the only solution. Yes, this movie has almost everything—an examination of gender roles as they relate to money, a discussion of emotional violence within marriage, and ruminations about male privilege. The one thing it doesn't have is a budget—for efx, good actors, multiple takes, or anything else. But that's why it's so endearing. Like the random growth spurt central to the plot, everything significant about Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a total fluke.
Attack of the 50 Foot WomanCreature from the Black LagoonSpartacusBen-HurThe Incredible Shrinking ManAllison HayesYvette VickersWilliam HudsonReynold BrownNathan JuranNathan Hertzposter artcinemamovie reviewsci-fi