Dr. Cyclops

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(7/10) In a nutshell: Brought to you by King Kong director Ernest B. Schoedsack, along with multiple Oscar winning teams of set designers and special effects technicians, Dr. Cyclops (1940) paints an imaginative picture of mad scientists and shrinking people in the Peruvian Jungle. Unfortunately there was no money left for actors and screenwriters. Nonetheless, this film stands as one of the best sci-fi flicks of the forties (which isn’t saying all that much, though).

Dr. Cyclops. 1940, USA. Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack. Written by Tom Kilpatrick, Malcolm Stuart Boyley. Starring: Albert Dekker, Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton, Victor Kilian, Frank Yaconelli. Produced by Dale van Every, Merian C. Cooper for Paramount. Tomatometer: 100 %. IMDb score: 6.4

Charles Halton and Albert Dekker in the 1940 film Dr. Cyclops.

Charles Halton and Albert Dekker in the 1940 film Dr. Cyclops.

If anyone remembers Dr. Cyclops today, it is mostly as a curiosity – but it does deserve a slightly better reputation, although it is by no means a masterpiece. But it is notable for a number of reasons, of which the biggest is the amazing special effects, although not flawlessly executed, and aged today. Following the premise of a mad scientist shrinking his nosy colleagues, this was not the first film to toy with the idea of miniature people, but perhaps the most striking that had come along in 1940, and it probably held that title all the way up to the in many ways superior 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking ManContinue reading

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King Kong

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(8/10) In a nutshell: Whether actually sci-fi or not, King Kong still had a huge influence on the genre. The amazing stop motion photography, the models and the merging of live action and special effects, combined with the wonderful imagination of director/producer Merian C. Cooper make this one of the true Hollywood greats. This is rounded up by the groundbreaking musical score by Max Steiner. Unfortunately the dialogue is appalling, the script contrived and the acting wooden. The only actor to hold a candle to Kong himself is the immortalized scream queen Fay Wray.

King Kong. 1933, USA. Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. Written by James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace, Leon Gordon (uncredited). Starring: Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Fay Wray, Frank Reicher, Noble Johnson. Produced by Cooper, Schoedsack & David O. Selznick for RKO. Tomatometer: 98 %. IMDb score: 8.0

Is this the most widely recognized movie scene in history?

Is this the most widely recognized movie scene in history?

We all know the story of King Kong by heart, even if we have never seen the film. Filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) sweeps up a girl who is down on her luck, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), and takes her on a journey on a ship, to appear in one of his films. The trip takes them to an uncharted island, where Denham hopes to film the mysterious Kong – a creature terrorizing the natives. On the island they find that the black natives have built a huge wall to keep out Kong – and they happen to interrupt a sacrificial rite when they arrive. The natives kidnap the golden-haired Darrow and present her to Kong, prompting Denham and his crew to go on a rescue mission, where they first encounter King Kong, the giant gorilla.  Continue reading