Starring Chris Drake, Edmund Gwenn, James Arness, James Whitmore, Joan Weldon
Them! is based on an original story treatment by George Worthing Yates, and developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes for Warner Bros. Pictures Inc., which was produced by David Weisbart and directed by Gordon Douglas for the company.
One of the first of the "nuclear monster" movies, and the first "big bug" film, Them! was nominated for an Oscar for Special Effects and won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing. It is significant that the film starts off as a simple suspense story, with police investigating mysterious disappearances and deaths, all from no explainable cause.
The giant ants are not even seen until almost a third of the way into the film. Extensive details on this film can be found at SFMZ's THEM! 1954 Image/Dialogue Gallery.
Tobor the Great (1954) B&W
Tobor the Great was written by Carl Dudley & Philip MacDonald, and directed by Lee Sholem. It stars Charles Drake, Karin Booth, and Billy Chapin. Tobor's design was the brainchild of Robert Kinoshita, television and film effects man and prop designer who would later go on to design Robby the Robot from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, as well as the B9 environmental control robot from the 1960's hit sci-fi series Lost In Space.
Plot: As technology has improved nuclear power plants have shrunk to the size that they now be housed in submarines. At the same time rockets were growing larger and larger, till a stage was reached where rockets could be nuclear powered. This lead to the formation of a new agency, the CIFC (Civil Interplanetary Flight Commission).
The CIFCs job was to develop newer more efficient rocket motors and alloys to house such motors. Slowly all the obstacles were overcome. Only one factor remained, the human factor.
We see an experimental centrifuge designed to test a humans ability to withstand G force acceleration. The experiment is interrupted by Dr Ralph Harrison (Charles Drake) when the potential astronaut passes out The other scientists are frustrated at Harrisons intervention.
They were instructed to conduct the tests to the maximum extreme. Harrison goes to the commissioner and hands in his resignation; he declares he wont be party to such unsafe practices.
While Harrison is packing to leave Washington he is visited by Prof Nordstrom (Taylor Holmes) he explains he agrees with Harrisons position and is having the same argument with the CIFC Commissioner. Nordstrom has a solution, but wants Harrisons aid to complete it. Harrison agrees with enthusiasm.
Later at the airport waiting for their flight to California, Nordstrom and Harrison having dinner, discuss various elements of the project, a gentleman a few tables over takes great interest in the conversation before it is interrupted by a nosy news reporter. Harrison argues with the reporter that new speculation is leading to enemy nations learning secrets.
The reporter pushes back with the knowledge that it is known why Nordstrom resigned on the verge of the first spaceflight Arriving at a secluded compound, Nordstrom describes to Harrison the various security measures installed.
He then introduces his daughter Janice (Karin Booth) and grandson Brian gadge Roberts, (Billy Chapin) Karl, (Franz Roehn) the professors assistant explains the boys father was killed during the Korean War. Later Nordstrom is getting ready for a demonstration.
Various US science journalists arrive and are put through a series of elaborate security checks before being allowed to enter. Nordtrom unveils a robot hes built to replace humans on spacecraft. The press challenges Nordstrom about the real value of the robot until the professor explains the robot can be controlled by ESP.
Nordstrom further explains that Tobor is sentient and reacts to emotion. He demonstrates this with the help of Janice. He asks her to think thoughts of friendship and the robot responds by offering to shake hands. One of the reporters asks if the robot can read thoughts from strangers.
Nordstrom challenges the man to attack Tobor and see what happens. Tobor reacts by defending himself. That concludes the demonstration; the only problem to be overcome is long range communication. A suitable receiver has been completed but the development of a working transmitter has been delayed.
Brian cant contain his curiosity anymore. Hed been allowed to listen to the demonstration from his room, but is determined to see the robot in real life. Entering the now demonstration area, Brian finds Tobors controller and gets the robot operational. Something goes wrong and Tobor begins to make menacing advances on the now frightened boy.
Brian continues to fight with the control systems trying to deactivate the machine. Torbor responds by going into an uncontrolled frenzy. The robot marches upstairs and destroys a number of items before Brian figures out how to operate the machine and return it to its holding area.
As Ralph and Nordstrom begin to clean up the mess they realize there were too many people at the demonstration. 12 were invited but 13 attended. A car leaving the demonstration stops on the side of the road to change the number plates on the car before continuing. Back at the house Ralph is on the phone to the local police giving them the now redundant number plate.
Janice questions Ralph about who would be spying on the development of Tobor. He explains that Tobor could easily be reprogrammed as a weapon with destructive patterns, and what would happen if someone produced a few thousand of them.
Four days later, the chief of the spy ring (Henry Kulky) confers with one of his henchmen. They have been watching the house for days and there is no sign the robot has been moved. They decide they need to break in and steal the technology
In the Lab, Harrison and Nordstrom have developed a new communication device to telepathically control Tobor. They activate the robot and begin putting it through its paces. First with a simple typing test then follow up with a series of ever more complex navigation exercises ending in Tobor having to deal with a simulated meteor shower.
Tobor fails this test and becomes erratic. Nordstrom surmises the machine suffered a mechanical nervous breakdown. They shut the machine down and allow its circuits to cool. Back at the garage in town the spies make their plans to try and steal the technology. They develop a special extending ladder to get over the fence and gain access to the house.
Brian is woken by an alarm telling him that intruders are inside the electric fence on the north boundary. Inside the house everyone is aware of the intrusion and watch as the spies get closer. Nordstrom springs his trap and a series of light and sound effects explode through the compound. The spies, thinking they are under attack retreat the way they came.
Back at the garage, the spies regroup and begin plan a new approach. They hit on the idea of kidnapping Nordstroms Grandson and use the child to gain access to Tobor. The next day Brian receives an invitation to a science show First Flight To Mars at the planetarium in Los Angeles.
Brian asks his Grandfather to accompany him, in the meantime Karl has made improvements to Tobors transmitter and it now fits in a pen case. They arrive at the planetarium and seem puzzled no one else is there, before they can consider their options, the spies introduce themselves then kidnap both men.
At the house concern grows. Brian and Nordstrom are now an hour late returning, and military personnel are beginning to arrive at the house for a presentation. At the garage the spies tell them what they expect. And that they will hurt Brian if Nordstrom does not tell the secrets of Tobor.
Nordstrom tricks the spies into putting his telepathic transfer device on his head, convincing them it is a hearing aid. He then triggers the transmitter inside his pen. Back at the house the robot becomes functional and begins to go to the rescue of Nordstrom.
Ralph realizes what Nordstrom is doing and follows the robot by car after Tobor steals a jeep. The spies become frustrated with Nordstroms delaying tactics and decide to torture the boy a little to convince the professor to get the details right.
They then discover the Nordstrom is using his pen as a transmitter and destroy the device. Tobor has stopped cold after the transmitter is destroyed. Ralph considers that if Brian is close enough Tobor might be able to develop a telepathic connection.
Reactivating Tobor, the robot springs to life and attacks the spies. He makes quick work of three of the men, but the ring leader escapes by car. Tobor stops the car, and then renders it inoperable by ripping the hood away and disabling the wiring. The final scene shows a rocket launch with Tobor at the controls.
Godzilla (1954) B&W
Godzilla (Gojira) was directed and co-written by Ishiro Honda with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, produced and distributed by Toho Company Ltd. In 1956, a heavily edited version was released in the U.S. as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.
The original Japanese version is now available in the country under the title Gojira. It was the first of many "giant monster" movies (known as kaiju) to be produced in Japan, many of which also feature Godzilla.
When Godzilla was first released in 1954, the film sold approximately 9,610,000 tickets, and was the eighth best-attended film in Japan that year. It remains the second most-attended Godzilla film in Japan, behind King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Although Japanese critics accused the film of exploiting the widespread devastation that the country had suffered in World War II, as well as the Daigo Fukuryu- Maru incident that occurred a few months before filming began, as time went on, it gained more respect in its home country.
Opening scene: A ship is at sea, the crew relaxes on deck as night begins to fall. Near the ship a flash of light baths the ship. Instantly the ship explodes and begins to sink. Next morning Hideto Ogato (Akira Takarada) receives a phone call. Being a salvage expert the coast guard wants him to report immediately as a result of the sinking. A situation room is set up to investigate the sinking of the Eiko Maru.
Its last position is known but the cause of the sinking is still a mystery, though an explosion is suspected. A rescue vessel "Bingo Maru" approaches the location of the sinking. Again a flash of light erupts out of the water and the Bingo Maru suffers the same fate as the Eiko Maru. The Coast Guard assures frantic families of the crews of the two ships, that everything is being done including more ships and helicopters committed to the search.
Finally there are results as three survivors are found in the water. At the same time reports of the sinking of a fishing boat brings the total of lost ships to three. On Odo island, the port of the missing fishing boat, inhabitants are scanning the sea looking for signs of the boat. A raft is seen with Masaji Sieji (Ren Yamamoto) who lives on the island on board.
The islanders pull the raft in Masajis says "A monster did it" And passes out close to death. Days later other fishing boats return to the island, complaining their nets are all empty. One of the elders claims it is Godzilla eating the fish. Other members of the village laugh at his quaint ways. The same day a helicopter lands on the island carrying a group of press and military - they interview Masajis who again claims it was a monster.
The elder gets their attention and tells the legend of Godzilla. He then explains the history of sacrifices the island used to make to keep Godzilla happy. Now all that is left is the religious ceremony. During the night a typhoon hits the island. The islanders take shelter but along with the normal noise of such storms they can hear something huge moving around.
The next morning 12 houses are found to have been destroyed during the night and at least 9 people have died. Discussions between the mayor and eyewitnesses uncover the fact that the destruction of the houses was unusual, and not caused by the storm. Professor Kyohei Yamane suggests a scientific task force go to the island to investigate the situation.
As the vessel leaves, a number of passengers are surprised to see the reclusive Dr Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) at the dock to see the expedition off. At the island the team gets to work, first they detect radiation around the ruined buildings and in the water wells. A series of huge shallow depressions are measured. It becomes apparent the depressions are giant foot prints.
In one of the depressions they find a trilobite - a creature extinct for millions of years. On the other side of the island an alarm sounds, loud rhythmic thunder can be heard approaching. Many realize it is the same sound heard during the storm. The villagers start to climb the island's central ridge to see what is going on. A huge reptilian rears up and roars at the villagers and disappears.
The villages continue towards the creature only to see it disappear into the ocean leaving a series of tracks along a beach. At a meeting convened to discuss the expeditions findings, Professor Yamane surmises Godzilla is a relic from the age of dinosaurs and has been disturbed by recent hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific. He displays the trilobite and the radioactive sand found on the island as proof of his argument.
Newspaper reports claim that up to 17 ships have been lost because of Godzilla. A special agency is set up to look into ways to counter the creature before all international trade is stopped with Japan. The Japanese navy goes into action depth charging any areas Godzilla was last seen. In Tokyo Bay a pleasure boat full of party goers sees Godzilla, rather than attack the boat, the creature seems intent on heading for shore.
Professor Yammi struggles with the situation. He understands Godzilla needs to be destroyed but feels the creature deserves to live. After all it was man who disturbed and created the creature. He wants to understand what caused things to turn out the way it did. Orgata speaks to the professor Yammi's daughter and asks her to try and talk to talk to Professor Serizawa who is rumored to have a device that could destroy Godzilla.
Newspaperman Hagiwara (Sachio Sakai) asks if he can come along to get a better idea of the true story. Serizawa is puzzled at the reporters questions. He denies such a weapon exists, but refuses to say what he is really working on. Emiko waits for the reporter go then presses Serizawa for more information, he relents and shows her what he is doing, but she has to be sworn to secrecy first.
In the lab Serizawa shows her a process that turns a tank full of fish to skeletons in mere seconds. Emiko is shocked but validates her promise to Serizawa by not saying anything to Orgata when she returns home. Outside the house sirens sound, and the trade mark thundering steps can be heard in the distance. Godzilla nears the shore and the army opens fire with all the heavy weapons they can muster.
Ignoring the armys efforts Godzilla comes ashore destroys a train, then moves into the downtown area. After a protracted battle with the army, the monster destroys a major bridge before heading back to sea. Next morning newspapers are full of images and stories of the attack. It is noted that scientists from all over the world have begun flying in to help defeat the creature.
Quickly it is decided to evacuate the coastal areas around Tokyo Bay. Once this is completed an electrified barrier is to be built. Its hoped that by repeated electrocution Godzilla will be turned away and forced back to sea permanently. Now that a plan of action is in place Orgata decides now is a good time to ask Professor Yammi for his daughter Emikos hand in marriage. Yammi is completely uninterested in the advance.
He is consumed with questions about Godzilla. Frustrated Orgata starts debating Yammi, ultimately Yammi throws him out of the house dashing Emikos hopes. At nightfall Godzilla is again seen heading for the shoreline. The newly installed electrical barrier is charged and the army takes up position with heavy artillery and tanks. As Godzilla pauses at the barrier the army sees its chance again attacks.
Godzilla responds by setting huge fires across the city with its to date unseen radioactive breath. Realizing their plan has failed the authorities initiate code 129 This means rather than fight Godzilla they are only going to concentrate on getting civilians out of harms way. As the plan takes affect a wing of Japanese fighter craft try to distract the creature. Unexpectedly the attack seems to work and Godzilla retreats back to the waters of Tokyo Bay.
Rescue efforts switch to high gear, but the sheer numbers of wounded, many suffering radiation sickness completely overwhelm hospitals. Despite their best effort the government knows there is little hope for survivors. Seeing the carnage Emiko confesses to Orgata what she really saw in the Professors lab There really is a way to destroy the creature.
She goes on to describe how Serizawa dropped a device into a tank of fish, seconds later all the fish were just skeletons. Serizawa explains how the device sucks all oxygen from water causing any living creature caught by the process to liquefy instantly. Hearing this Orgata and Emiko agree to confront the Serizawa and convince him to use his discovery.
Serizawa counters that to reveal the weapon to the world would unleash a force greater than even the atomic bomb. The only difference is the oxygen destroyer could ultimately kill all mankind. Serizawa is concerned that once the he uses the weapon the genie is out of the bottle and he does not know if he can get it back in. Serizawa is torn by his choice, but he cannot see any way to resolve it.
He catches a sight from the TV of people all over the country praying that Godzilla wont return. He realizes he must act and deploy the weapon. With a new sense of purpose he begins to destroy data and equipment in his lab notes. At sea a ship with Orgato and Serizawa aboard a ship mounted with Geiger counters locates Godzilla. Orgata prepares to make the dive to deploy the weapon. Serizawa insists he goes with him.
They only have one chance and one weapon, so it has to be done properly. Reaching the ocean floor they find Godzilla resting and begin the work to deploy the weapon. Serizawa unexpectedly signals Orgata to return to the surface. Reaching the surface alone Orgato realizes he has been fooled and Serizawas solution was to die deploying the weapon. With one final message Serizawa tells Orgata that the weapon worked and he hopes he and Emiko with be happy together.
The weapons effect envelopes Godzilla. The creature struggles for a time before sinking to the bottom uttering one final defiant roar. Moments later nothing remains but a skeleton. Within minutes this is gone too. Onboard the ship Professor Yammi considers the concept that there must be more Godzillas out in the depths of the ocean. If man continues his experiments with atomic weapons, chances are extremely high another Godzilla will return to once again threaten our civilization.