The Colossus of New York (1958)

70 mins | Horror, Science fiction | June 1958

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HISTORY

The Colossus of New York was released by Paramount on a double bill with another William Alland production, The Space Children (see below). According to modern sources, the colossus was designed and built by Charles Gemora and Ralph Jester. The costume itself was eight feet tall, weighed 160 pounds, and was created from burlap, plastic, rubber and fine chicken wire. Inside the costume were batteries, cables, air tanks and oxygen tubes which both moved mechanical parts and assisted Ed Wolff, who played the colossus, in breathing. Because it took over forty minutes to get Wolff in and out of the costume, a special rack was designed for the actor to rest on between shots.
       Modern sources also state that the funeral sequence in The Colossus of New York was shot on the grounds of a run-down Hollywood mansion. The film's score is played on a single piano. The Var reviewer noted its effectiveness, but speculated that "either economy, or perhaps the studio musicians' strike" may have been the rationale for the unusual practice. In an interview published by modern sources, actor Ross Martin claimed that the funeral scene had to be reshot because he fell asleep in the coffin and his snoring could be heard over the ... More Less

The Colossus of New York was released by Paramount on a double bill with another William Alland production, The Space Children (see below). According to modern sources, the colossus was designed and built by Charles Gemora and Ralph Jester. The costume itself was eight feet tall, weighed 160 pounds, and was created from burlap, plastic, rubber and fine chicken wire. Inside the costume were batteries, cables, air tanks and oxygen tubes which both moved mechanical parts and assisted Ed Wolff, who played the colossus, in breathing. Because it took over forty minutes to get Wolff in and out of the costume, a special rack was designed for the actor to rest on between shots.
       Modern sources also state that the funeral sequence in The Colossus of New York was shot on the grounds of a run-down Hollywood mansion. The film's score is played on a single piano. The Var reviewer noted its effectiveness, but speculated that "either economy, or perhaps the studio musicians' strike" may have been the rationale for the unusual practice. In an interview published by modern sources, actor Ross Martin claimed that the funeral scene had to be reshot because he fell asleep in the coffin and his snoring could be heard over the dialogue. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Jun 1958.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jun 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Jun 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 57
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 57
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 57
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 58
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 58
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Jul 58
p. 897.
Variety
25 Jun 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hair style supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Casting
Scr supv
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1958
Production Date:
5 December--20 December 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp. and William Alland Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 June 1958
Copyright Number:
LP12065
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18889
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, scientist and inventor Dr. Henry Spensser, along with his brother, Dr. Jeremy Spensser, and his young nephew Billy, watches an industrial film about Henry's latest creation, a heat-seeking detector currently being used in food manufacturing. Though Jeremy congratulates his brother on the invention, Henry points out that the detector was originally Jeremy's idea. Anne, Jeremy's wife, then bursts into the room to inform her husband that he has just been awarded an international peace prize for his work in developing frost-resistant plants while heading up the World Food Organization. Following his return from Stockholm, where he received the peace prize, Jeremy and his family are greeted at the airport by his father, noted brain surgeon and anatomist Dr. William Everett Spensser, as well as his close friend and fellow scientist, Prof. John Carrington. As they make their way to the airport's parking lot, a gust of wind blows Billy's toy airplane out of his hand, and Jeremy is killed by a truck driver while trying to retrieve the plane. Rather than having his son's body driven to the morgue, William insists that it be taken to his home, where he secretly removes Jeremy's brain from his dead body. After the funeral, William tells John that the brain of a genius like Jeremy should be seen as independent from the rest of the body, while John argues that the brain is just one part of man, that it needs to feel emotions to remain human. Devoid of such impulses, John states, the brain would become dehumanized in monstrous proportions. Though never close to William, Henry agrees to stay on at his father's ... +


In New York City, scientist and inventor Dr. Henry Spensser, along with his brother, Dr. Jeremy Spensser, and his young nephew Billy, watches an industrial film about Henry's latest creation, a heat-seeking detector currently being used in food manufacturing. Though Jeremy congratulates his brother on the invention, Henry points out that the detector was originally Jeremy's idea. Anne, Jeremy's wife, then bursts into the room to inform her husband that he has just been awarded an international peace prize for his work in developing frost-resistant plants while heading up the World Food Organization. Following his return from Stockholm, where he received the peace prize, Jeremy and his family are greeted at the airport by his father, noted brain surgeon and anatomist Dr. William Everett Spensser, as well as his close friend and fellow scientist, Prof. John Carrington. As they make their way to the airport's parking lot, a gust of wind blows Billy's toy airplane out of his hand, and Jeremy is killed by a truck driver while trying to retrieve the plane. Rather than having his son's body driven to the morgue, William insists that it be taken to his home, where he secretly removes Jeremy's brain from his dead body. After the funeral, William tells John that the brain of a genius like Jeremy should be seen as independent from the rest of the body, while John argues that the brain is just one part of man, that it needs to feel emotions to remain human. Devoid of such impulses, John states, the brain would become dehumanized in monstrous proportions. Though never close to William, Henry agrees to stay on at his father's home, in order to look after him, as well as Anne and Billy, who have moved in with William following Jeremy's "death." After weeks of experimentation, William allows Henry into his laboratory, where he has kept Jeremy's brain alive. William then calls upon Henry, an expert in automation, to create a mechanical body to house the brain. On the night of John's farewell party, the Spenssers finish their creation, an eight-foot colossus. Seeing himself in a mirror, however, Jeremy collapses on the floor in agony. Anne then rushes down to the lab, thinking that she heard Jeremy's cries, but Henry convinces her that it was merely William, upset at the failure of their latest experiment. Back in the laboratory, Henry warns his father that Jeremy's brain could become psychotic if it suffers a second such episode, but William insists that he can convince Jeremy to continue his work, despite the loss of his human life. Though he initially wants to be destroyed, Jeremy agrees to continue his experiments to end world hunger as long as no one aside from his father and brother know of his existence. While working with his father, Jeremy develops extra-sensory perception, seeing an accident between two ships in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles away, though touch and smell continue to elude him. After one year of continuous work in William's laboratory, Jeremy decides to make a pilgrimage to his grave, despite the objections of his father. There, he sees his young son, and Billy immediately befriends "the giant." Furious with his father, who had told Jeremy that Anne and Billy were also killed in the automobile accident that claimed his life, Jeremy destroys the remote control box that William and Henry use to control his mechanical body when he becomes overly excited. Later, Jeremy overhears the love-sick Henry asking Anne to run away with him to Hawaii, and although she refuses, Jeremy become insanely jealous of his brother. The next morning, Anne calls John and the professor rushes over to the Spensser estate, but does not believe her tales of the colossus. Meanwhile, Henry telephones his father from a phone booth and asks for money so he can escape Jeremy. The psychic colossus, however, knows this and orders William to arrange a meeting with Henry by the East River. There, Jeremy murders his brother with laser beams from his x-ray eyes. Returning to his father's lab, the now deranged Jeremy announces that he is turning his back on humanity, arguing that the weak should be destroyed, not saved, and such extermination should begin with all humanitarians. Now under Jeremy's hypnotic control, William denies the existence of any "monster" when the police investigate Henry's death, and tells Anne to stay away from Billy except at bedtime. While putting her son to bed, however, Anne discovers a toy plane, which Billy innocently tells her was given to him by "Mr. Giant," who had recently asked the young lad to start calling him "Daddy." Soon thereafter, Jeremy orders William to take Anne and Billy to a United Nations conference being held in his honor. Hosted by John, the meeting is disrupted when Jeremy bursts through a plate-glass window and begins killing people with his x-ray eyes. Billy then rushes up to the colossus and tells him that he is bad. Realizing that he has truly lost his humanity, Jeremy asks Billy to turn off the power switch hidden beneath his left arm. The young boy does so, and the colossus collapses to the floor, dead. William then tells John he was right, that a brain without a soul is nothing but monstrous. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.