Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

79 mins | Science fiction, Horror | March 1954

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Black Lagoon. The film begins with a voice-over narration describing the Earth exploding into being, cooling down over millions of years and developing the first forms of life. According to a Sep 1953 LAT news item, Frank Lovejoy was originally cast as "David Reed," but Richard Carlson took over the role. The film marked the second collaboration between star Carlson, producer William Alland, director Jack Arnold and writer Harry Essex, who were behind the hit science-fiction film It Came from Outer Space, produced by Universal in 1953 (see below). Creature from the Black Lagoon was shot in black-and-white 3-D. According to a HR news item, underwater scenes were shot in Wakulla, FL. Modern sources add that some scenes were also shot on location in Crystal Springs, FL.
       Actor Perry Lopez (1931--2008), who was credited in reviews as Julio Lopez, made his motion picture debut in the film. Lopez acted frequently in films and on television and was best known for his portrayal of "Lou Escobar" in Chinatown (1974). Modern sources report that Alland and Arnold based their design for the Gill Man on the Academy Awards Oscar statuette. Modern sources also state that Glenn Strange turned down the role of the Gill Man, which was filled, in the underwater scenes, by Ricou Browning. A Sep 1953 HR news item added Richard Webb to the cast, but he was not identified in the viewed print. Modern sources added Ned Le Fevre to the cast and the following names to the crew credits: Creature des Millicent ... More Less

The working title of this film was Black Lagoon. The film begins with a voice-over narration describing the Earth exploding into being, cooling down over millions of years and developing the first forms of life. According to a Sep 1953 LAT news item, Frank Lovejoy was originally cast as "David Reed," but Richard Carlson took over the role. The film marked the second collaboration between star Carlson, producer William Alland, director Jack Arnold and writer Harry Essex, who were behind the hit science-fiction film It Came from Outer Space, produced by Universal in 1953 (see below). Creature from the Black Lagoon was shot in black-and-white 3-D. According to a HR news item, underwater scenes were shot in Wakulla, FL. Modern sources add that some scenes were also shot on location in Crystal Springs, FL.
       Actor Perry Lopez (1931--2008), who was credited in reviews as Julio Lopez, made his motion picture debut in the film. Lopez acted frequently in films and on television and was best known for his portrayal of "Lou Escobar" in Chinatown (1974). Modern sources report that Alland and Arnold based their design for the Gill Man on the Academy Awards Oscar statuette. Modern sources also state that Glenn Strange turned down the role of the Gill Man, which was filled, in the underwater scenes, by Ricou Browning. A Sep 1953 HR news item added Richard Webb to the cast, but he was not identified in the viewed print. Modern sources added Ned Le Fevre to the cast and the following names to the crew credits: Creature des Millicent Patrick; Makeup Chris Mueller; Double for Julia Adams Ginger Stanley; Mus Robert Emmett Dolan, Henry Mancini, Milton Rosen, Hans J. Salter , and Herman Stein.
       At the time of its release, Creature from the Black Lagoon enjoyed critical and popular success, and has since gained status as one of the most important science-fiction films of the era, with the Gill Man emerging as one of the genre's most iconic monsters. Universal produced two sequels to the picture: In 1955, Revenge of the Creature was again directed by Arnold, while John Sherwood directed the 1956 picture The Creature Walks Among Us (see entry). All three films in the series were produced by Alland.
       Although LAWeekly announced in May 1982 that producer-director John Landis planned to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon , retaining Jack Arnold as the director and the original design of the creature, that film was not produced. In early 2003, Universal announced new plans to remake the film, but production had not begun as of spring 2005. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Feb 1954.
---
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1954
p. 3.
Film Daily
18 Feb 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 1953
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1953
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1953
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1953
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1953
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1953
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1954
p. 3.
LAWeekly
21-27 May 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Sep 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Feb 1954
p. 2182.
New York Times
1 May 1954
p. 13.
People
4 Apr 1994.
---
Variety
10 Feb 1954
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Underwater seq dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Adams' ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Black Lagoon
Release Date:
March 1954
Production Date:
October 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
20 March 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3725
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
3-D
Duration(in mins):
79
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16854
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the upper reaches of the Brazilian Amazon, archaeologist Dr. Carl Maia and his team, including Luis, Zee and Chico, excavate a webbed claw from a wall of limestone. Carl rushes the claw to the nearby Instituto de Biologia Maritima, leaving Luis to guard their camp. At the institute, marine life specialist David Reed and his girl friend Kay, amazed with Carl's finding, bring the claw to their boss, Dr. Mark Williams, and the other institute doctors, including Dr. Thompson. After the men agree to fund a more thorough investigation, the group boards the boat of local sailor Lucas to reach the camp. Upon arriving, Carl is devastated to find that a mysterious creature has torn Luis to pieces. No one notices when a webbed hand creeps out of the water toward Kay's leg, disappearing when she walks away. Over the next eight days, the team digs up the limestone but finds nothing, causing Mark, who is eager for publicity-worthy finds, concern about wasted time and funds. One day, David deduces that a lagoon at the end of the river probably holds more fossils. Although Lucas recounts an eery legend about a half man-half fish creature, or Gill Man, that lives in the unexplored Black Lagoon, everyone boards the ship. On board, Mark watches jealously as Kay kisses David. They reach the lovely lagoon the next day, where the Gill Man watches David and Mark as they dive for rocks to test. While Carl discovers that the rocks match the makeup of the limestone, Kay swims out into the lagoon. The Gill Man, fascinated with her beauty, follows her through the water, once touching her foot gently. Before she ... +


In the upper reaches of the Brazilian Amazon, archaeologist Dr. Carl Maia and his team, including Luis, Zee and Chico, excavate a webbed claw from a wall of limestone. Carl rushes the claw to the nearby Instituto de Biologia Maritima, leaving Luis to guard their camp. At the institute, marine life specialist David Reed and his girl friend Kay, amazed with Carl's finding, bring the claw to their boss, Dr. Mark Williams, and the other institute doctors, including Dr. Thompson. After the men agree to fund a more thorough investigation, the group boards the boat of local sailor Lucas to reach the camp. Upon arriving, Carl is devastated to find that a mysterious creature has torn Luis to pieces. No one notices when a webbed hand creeps out of the water toward Kay's leg, disappearing when she walks away. Over the next eight days, the team digs up the limestone but finds nothing, causing Mark, who is eager for publicity-worthy finds, concern about wasted time and funds. One day, David deduces that a lagoon at the end of the river probably holds more fossils. Although Lucas recounts an eery legend about a half man-half fish creature, or Gill Man, that lives in the unexplored Black Lagoon, everyone boards the ship. On board, Mark watches jealously as Kay kisses David. They reach the lovely lagoon the next day, where the Gill Man watches David and Mark as they dive for rocks to test. While Carl discovers that the rocks match the makeup of the limestone, Kay swims out into the lagoon. The Gill Man, fascinated with her beauty, follows her through the water, once touching her foot gently. Before she notices his presence, however, the men call her back, and when the Gill Man pursues her, it becomes tangled in the boat's net. The men struggle to raise the net quickly, but the creature escapes at the last minute, leaving a talon behind. Mark is eager to find and kill the Gill Man, but David urges him to preserve the creature and its natural habitat. They dive, and when the Gill Man attacks them underwater, David takes a photograph and Mark shoots it in the back with a harpoon. On the boat, David chastises Mark, but when his photograph reveals only seaweed, Mark worries that no one will believe their story unless they bring back the Gill Man's body. While the other doctors argue over its existence, the Gill Man drags Chico over the boat and kills him. The next day, Lucas sprinkles the lagoon water with a drug he uses to sedate fish, but the Gill Man avoids the drugged waters. That night, the Gill Man climbs on board to grab Kay, and after her scream scares it back into the drugged water, David follows it, afraid the creature will suffocate underwater. The creature escapes into a grotto, with David close behind and the others on the shore in a rowboat. The Gill Man then circles around to the shore to grab Kay again, and when Tomas tries to stop it, the creature kills him but then collapses. David stops Mark from killing it, instead imprisoning it in a water tank on the boat. Mark's command for the team to leave immediately is vetoed by David, who insists that they stay to complete their experiments. Dr. Thompson stands guard over the creature while the scientists gather more data, but the Gill Man soon escapes his tank and slashes Thompson's face, leaving him near death. The next day, David announces that they cannot risk any more attacks and so must leave. This time, Mark insists that they stay to kill the Gill Man, but Lucas holds a machete to Mark's neck and starts the engine. On the way out of the lagoon, however, they discover that the creature has blocked the boat with a huge log, trapping them. When they cannot clear the log from above, David dives under the boat, followed by Mark, who still wants to kill the Gill Man. The moment it attacks, Mark shoots it with a harpoon. Only slightly wounded, the creature grabs Mark, and although David scares it away, he is too late to save Mark's life. On the boat, David devises a plan to shoot the rest of the drug directly at the creature, hoping to disable it long enough to clear the log. He dives down and surrounds the Gill Man with the drug. As soon as he moves the log and the boat can sail, however, the creature climbs aboard, grabs Kay and dives back into the water with her. David follows them into the grotto, where the still-groggy creature attacks him. Carl and Lucas appear in time to shoot the creature several times with bullets, after which David asks them not to shoot again. They watch in silence as the wounded Gill Man struggles into the water and slowly sinks out of sight. +

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

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