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HISTORY

The working title of the film was The Monster from Beneath the Sea. After the credits, voice-over narration introduces the team of scientists and their secret project, "Operation Experiment." According to an Aug 1953 Var news item, producers Jack Dietz and Hal Chester originally offered their independent film, which they made for $285,000, to RKO, which had had great success with the stop-motion animation film KingKong in 1933 and in various reissues, but the studio declined the offer. The article reported that Warner Bros., interested in entering the science fiction market, then paid $400,000 for the film. The studio budgeted an additional $250,000 for a radio and television ad campaign, which was described in an Apr 1953 HR news item as a coast-to-coast campaign, preceding a 500-city multiple premiere.
       According to a modern source, Warner Bros. also replaced the original score with an orchestral one by David Buttolph and added the scene at the ballet. The beast, which was called a "rhedosaurus" in the film, was designed and animated by Ray Harryhausen, using a low-budget stop-motion technique called "Dynamation." The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was Harryhausen's first major film credit. Director Eugene Lourié admitted, in an Apr 1953 DV news item, that the creature was completely imaginary, as they wanted to create a monster that was "more frightening than the real thing." According to a May 1953 LADN article, eight men were needed to operate the beast.
       The character of the surviving seaman portrayed by Jack Pennick, who was listed as "Jacob" in the NYT and Var reviews, was called "George ...

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The working title of the film was The Monster from Beneath the Sea. After the credits, voice-over narration introduces the team of scientists and their secret project, "Operation Experiment." According to an Aug 1953 Var news item, producers Jack Dietz and Hal Chester originally offered their independent film, which they made for $285,000, to RKO, which had had great success with the stop-motion animation film KingKong in 1933 and in various reissues, but the studio declined the offer. The article reported that Warner Bros., interested in entering the science fiction market, then paid $400,000 for the film. The studio budgeted an additional $250,000 for a radio and television ad campaign, which was described in an Apr 1953 HR news item as a coast-to-coast campaign, preceding a 500-city multiple premiere.
       According to a modern source, Warner Bros. also replaced the original score with an orchestral one by David Buttolph and added the scene at the ballet. The beast, which was called a "rhedosaurus" in the film, was designed and animated by Ray Harryhausen, using a low-budget stop-motion technique called "Dynamation." The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was Harryhausen's first major film credit. Director Eugene Lourié admitted, in an Apr 1953 DV news item, that the creature was completely imaginary, as they wanted to create a monster that was "more frightening than the real thing." According to a May 1953 LADN article, eight men were needed to operate the beast.
       The character of the surviving seaman portrayed by Jack Pennick, who was listed as "Jacob" in the NYT and Var reviews, was called "George LeMay" in the film. Portions of the film, according to a modern source, were shot in locations in New York City, including Wall Street and the Stock Exchange. Modern sources add George R. Grover and Max M. Hutchinson to the sound crew, Clarence Kolster as film editor, and stuntman Gil Perkins. The following actors were added to the cast by modern sources: Ed Clark (Lighthouse keeper), Fred Aldrich (Radio operator), Joe Gray (Longshoreman) and Louise Colombet (Nun).
       One modern source also states that Lourié later claimed that he and an unnamed blacklisted writer contributed to the screenplay, which was signed by writers Lou Morheim and Robert Smith. Morheim and Fred Freiberger are credited onscreen with the screenplay. The source speculated that Smith was a pseudonym for the blacklisted writer. One of the plot points partially retained in the screenplay from Ray Bradbury's original short story was the lighthouse scene. However, in Bradbury's version, the beast is lured to the lighthouse by the sound of the foghorn, which it mistakes for a mating call. The short story was later retitled "The Foghorn" when published in Bradbury's anthology The Golden Apples of the Sun.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Arts and Architecture
Sep 1952
---
Box Office
27 Jun 1953
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1953
---
Daily Variety
17 Jun 1953
p. 3
Film Daily
24 Jun 1953
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1952
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 1952
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1953
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1953
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1953
p. 3
Los Angeles Daily News
5 May 1953
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Jun 1953
p. 1878
New York Times
25 Jun 1953
p. 23
Variety
17 Jun 1953
p. 6
Variety
19 Aug 1953
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Jack Russell
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Edward Boyle
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Tech eff created by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the short story "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" by Ray Bradbury in The Saturday Evening Post (23 Jun 1951).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Monster from Beneath the Sea
Release Date:
13 June 1953
Production Date:
late Jul--mid Aug 1952 at Motion Picture Center
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
16 June 1953
LP2638
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16143
SYNOPSIS

After conducting a secret experimental nuclear blast for the New York Atomic Energy Commission in the Arctic Circle's Baffin Bay, professors Tom Nesbitt and George Ritchie proceed to the blast area to observe the results. The two men separate to complete their tasks before an oncoming blizzard hits. Ritchie is soon buried in snow when a giant prehistoric reptile emerges from underground and causes an avalanche. Tom, responding to Ritchie's distress flare, is unable to find him, but sees the creature just before he is wounded and rendered unconscious. After being rescued by the U.S. Army, Tom is sent to a New York hospital to recuperate. There Tom's description of the reptile is explained away as a stress-related illusion and ignored, and Tom, himself, reluctantly comes to believe the diagnosis. However, when he reads in a newspaper that a ship sailing off the Grand Banks of Nova Scotia has been sunk, reportedly by a sea serpent, he leaves the hospital to enlist the help of Thurgood Elson, the dean of the department of paleontology at a local university. However, Elson is skeptical of Tom's theory that the heat of a nuclear blast freed a reptile that has been hibernating since the Mesozoic era. Elson's assistant, Lee Hunter, is open to the idea, and after a second ship is reportedly attacked near Marquette, she contacts Tom and asks him to look at several sketches of prehistoric animals. At her apartment, Tom identifies one of the sketches as looking like the creature he saw. At her suggestion, Tom tracks down George LeMay, the captain of the second ship, who is at first reluctant to risk further ridicule by talking about his ...

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After conducting a secret experimental nuclear blast for the New York Atomic Energy Commission in the Arctic Circle's Baffin Bay, professors Tom Nesbitt and George Ritchie proceed to the blast area to observe the results. The two men separate to complete their tasks before an oncoming blizzard hits. Ritchie is soon buried in snow when a giant prehistoric reptile emerges from underground and causes an avalanche. Tom, responding to Ritchie's distress flare, is unable to find him, but sees the creature just before he is wounded and rendered unconscious. After being rescued by the U.S. Army, Tom is sent to a New York hospital to recuperate. There Tom's description of the reptile is explained away as a stress-related illusion and ignored, and Tom, himself, reluctantly comes to believe the diagnosis. However, when he reads in a newspaper that a ship sailing off the Grand Banks of Nova Scotia has been sunk, reportedly by a sea serpent, he leaves the hospital to enlist the help of Thurgood Elson, the dean of the department of paleontology at a local university. However, Elson is skeptical of Tom's theory that the heat of a nuclear blast freed a reptile that has been hibernating since the Mesozoic era. Elson's assistant, Lee Hunter, is open to the idea, and after a second ship is reportedly attacked near Marquette, she contacts Tom and asks him to look at several sketches of prehistoric animals. At her apartment, Tom identifies one of the sketches as looking like the creature he saw. At her suggestion, Tom tracks down George LeMay, the captain of the second ship, who is at first reluctant to risk further ridicule by talking about his experience. Tom gains his confidence and asks him to look over Lee's sketches. When LeMay picks the same sketch as Tom, Tom again requests Elson's help, this time successfully. Elson is fascinated that the identified sketch is a rendering of a rhedosaurus and explains that a fossil field in the Hudson Submarine Canyon, which is located 150 miles from the New York coast, contains the bones of several of these animals. Meanwhile, a lighthouse in Maine is destroyed by a giant reptile. While on a date with Lee, Tom is paged by the Coast Guard and told that another mysterious animal has been sited on a coastal farm in Massachusetts. Elson theorizes that the beast is following the Arctic current toward the Hudson canyon, the place the beast considers home. Excited by the possible discovery of a living specimen of his life's work, Elson arranges to go down into the canyon in a Coast Guard diving bell. However, as Tom and Lee wait for him in the Coast Guard ship, Elson, a Coast Guardsman and the diving bell are devoured by the creature. While Tom and Lee mourn for Elson, the giant creature shows up at a New York pier and proceeds across town, killing people with each step. As the police are unable to contain the beast, the National Guard is called in to set up a barricade. Sharpshooters try to shoot the animal between the eyes, but cannot penetrate his eight-inch skull. The Guardsmen manage to wound him with bazookas, but soon the hospitals are reporting that the beast is leaving a virulent disease in his wake and that contact with his blood is deadly. Shell fire and flame throwers are disregarded as a means of defense, for fear of spreading the beast's blood particles in the air. As the reptile heads for Coney Island, Tom suggests shooting a radioactive isotope into his wound, which would kill the beast, as well as the deadly bacteria. An isotope is brought to the scene and, as there will be only one chance, the best Guardsman sharpshooter is chosen to deliver the shot. He and Tom ride to the top of the roller coaster, where the sharpshooter hits his target. As the beast writhes in pain, he becomes tangled in the roller coaster and Tom and the marksman quickly climb down the structure to safety, where Lee and other Guardsmen await them. A fire erupts as the beast dies.

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

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