A filmography for Toho Studios' other Godzilla and atomic monster films appears separately from the Dinofilm list.




PreCommentary: The 1954 Japanese film, Gojira, actually: derived from the nickname (blend of gorilla and whale) of a worker at Toho Studios. Americans Richard Kay and Harold Ross bought a batch of Japanese stock footage and were intrigued by the pieces from this film. For American release, scenes with Raymond Burr were added, other scenes were dubbed, 20 minutes were taken out--all costing about $100,000. It grossed 2 million in two years, spawning numerous other atomic monster films. This original tale was remade in 1984 (released in the US as Godzilla 1985 with an older Burr) and another version appeared in 1998 by TriStar Pictures.

Notes: Toho Studios.
Steve Martin: Raymond Burr
Dr. Yogami: Takashi Shimura
Godzilla: Haru Nakamiji in a rubber suit
Rubber Suit Design: Ryosaku Takasugi
Directed: Inoshiro Honda
Special Effects: Eiji Tsuburaya.

Summary: Burr narrates to scenes of city rubble: "This is Tokyo, once a city of 6 million people. What has happened here was caused by a force which up until a few days ago was entirely beyond the scope of man's imagination. Tokyo--a smoldering memorial to the unknown, an unknown which at this very moment still prevails and could at any time lash out with its terrible destruction anywhere else in the world." He introduces his wounded self as Steve Martin, foreign correspondent for United World News, although how he gets away with writing all that sanctimonious and uninformative crap is the new question. His stop-over in Tokyo on his way to Egypt "turned out to be a visit to the living hell of another world." "The only thought left was the paralyzing fear that it could happen again today or tomorrow. . . . The odor of scorched flesh permeated the air." "What brought this upon us?" asks a woman, setting Burr up for more pompous narration.

In retrospect, some atomic explosions 10,000 feet below the sea didn't prompt speculation that they "would shake the foundations of the civilized world." Japanese ships begin exploding and sinking: "There was a blinding flash of light and the ocean burst into flame." Reporter Martin asks, "Are there any survivors?" "No, not yet." (Huh?) In eight ship disasters, "terrible sea of fire engulfs all." Survivors die "in a matter of minutes from shock and strange burns."

A paleontologist blabs at a press conference about "Odo island in the Pacific, home of several hundred natives who were now paralyzed with fear." We all go there. During native ceremony reminiscent of that in King Kong (1933), one "native" speaks of a monster and Martin suspects "too much saki."

Martin and a guy Inspector Clouseau would call his "little yellow friend," Dr. Yogami, camp in tents during a monsoon which bring Godzilla's rage against a bamboo hut and its inhabitants. Witnesses testify to having seen "a living creature." We all go aboard a ship on which an emotionless love triangle emerges among three Japanese people, one (Dr. Sarazow) recognizable because he wears an eyepatch. Back on the island, radioactive contamination is detected. Then Godzilla appears and people run back and forth.

We go into lecture again, with a crappy slide show supposedly connected to blab about the Jurassic Age and a 400+-foot tall creature hitherto undiscovered, half land-living and half sea-living (the word "amphibious" would have made the film mercifully shorter). The bomb gets the blame for its reappearance. Burr, with what should have become his theme-line: "Well, it's big and terrible."

The Japanese decide to use depth-charges to blow up Gojira, the idiots. Someone's daddy laments that the creature should be studied, not destroyed, but he's sitting in an armchair instead of walking up to Gojira with a magnifying glass. "Hope and celebration were short-lived." Gozeerah is in Tokyo Harbor, nope he's out and knocking down powerlines and tanks don't work. A train sequence is also plagiarized from King Kong. We set up a corral of 300,000 volts around the city and the Japanese evacuate themselves. Lizardo Montalban emerges from the bay, is compared to a 30-story building, and turns Tokyo into "a sea of fire." Worse yet, Burr sweats. That girl recalls how Patch showed her a weird fish-killing technique in his lab aquarium once. She and her new fiancé go to reason with him. No, never, okay, yes. A telecast of Japanese kids whining something musical persuades him where the sight of his ex and her new boy strangely don't. It is a method of destroying the oxygen in water called the "oxygen destroyer." He's in an agony of moral indecision and will allow this device to be used only once, and he destroys the paperwork.

It works, and Patch cuts his own lifeline to die with Gojira, who surfaces once, sinks, dissolves to bones and then to nothing. Hats come off.

Commentary: It is difficult not to read the film as an atomic age parable, especially during the first minutes of Burr's narration and the depiction of the consequences. As Joe Bob Briggs says on Saturday night's TNT MonsterVision, surprised at how well the film did in the U.S., "Godzilla are us."

Other Godzilla Films