Friday, December 17, 2010

The Blob (1958) Irvin S Yeaworth Jr, Russell S Doughten Jr

It’s a campy 1950s sci-fi film that is still fun to watch. It scared the heck out of young viewers back in the day but today, not so much. The studio had Burt Bacharach and Mack David compose the song that plays during the opening credits and wanted it to be “non-threatening.” The song is light-hearted and goofy, and completely belies the tone of the film. “Beware of the blob, it creeps and leaps and glides and slides...”

Opening scene: Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut are teenagers watching for shooting stars, and see a big one. They go searching for the point of impact, along with an old man who lives nearby. We hear a slurping sound and a dog barking. The old man reaches the “arrival” and inquisitively, or foolishly, starts poking it with a stick. And that is where this narrative ends because you need to see the rest for yourself.

Thrown into the movie are hot-rodding, rebellious teenagers, a good cop and a bad cop (he has his background reasons), and a stuffed-shirt father who just may redeem himself. The teenagers, of course, win the day as the town is finally forced to believe their story. “How do you get people to protect themselves from something they don’t believe in?”

The sound recording is poor with studio echoes everywhere. Dialogue is stilted, and McQueen and Corsaut are 28 and 25, respectively, playing teenagers. The film did bring stardom to Steve McQueen as he was hired for the television series “Wanted: Dead or Alive” on the basis of this performance. Aneta Corsaut would later become best known as Helen Crump, Andy’s girlfriend, on the Andy Griffeth Show; this was her film debut.

The old man in the beginning should be noted as Olin Howland, an actor with more than 200 movie credits and who was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers. This was his last film. The original music in the film is credited to Ralph Carmichael, better known for his musical association with Billy Graham.

The movie isn’t nearly as good as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956) or “Thing From Another World” (1951) and has nowhere near their staying power. But it’s an interesting little part of 1950s movie history.

There has been one sequel to date, a 1972 production directed by Larry Hagman, “Beware the Blob," the only film Hagman ever directed. The screenplay took off from the last lines of the original movie:  "I don’t think it can be killed but at least we’ve got it stopped.” “At least if the Arctic stays cold.”  Chuck Russell directed a 1988 remake, and there is currently a 2011 version in development.

Here is one last piece of trivia in case you find yourself on Jeopardy someday. The movie being viewed in the theater in the film’s classic scene is the 1955 “Dementia” by John Parker. Take the movie for what it is and enjoy it.

“It’s kind of like a mass that gets bigger and bigger.”
“Don’t go in there, Jim It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”   

1 comment:

  1. The opening song, The Blob, is awful, but in a great way! It was by the Five Blobs and is to be found on an Ace CD called Golden Age - Special Novelty Edition