The Monster that Challenged the World (1957)

83-84 mins | Science fiction | July 1957

Director:

Arnold Laven

Writer:

Pat Fielder

Cinematographer:

Lester White

Editor:

John Faure

Production Designer:

James D. Vance

Production Company:

Gramercy Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

This film's working titles were The Jagged Edge and The Kraken . The film's pressbook states that the film was shot around El Centro, the All-American Canal and on the Salton Sea in southeastern California. A 7 Sep 1956 HR news item adds Catalina Island, CA to the locations. The Var review gives the screenplay writer's name as Pat Fiedler, but the onscreen credits list Pat Fielder. A 1 Oct 1956 HR news item adds Joe Hamilton to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been ... More Less

This film's working titles were The Jagged Edge and The Kraken . The film's pressbook states that the film was shot around El Centro, the All-American Canal and on the Salton Sea in southeastern California. A 7 Sep 1956 HR news item adds Catalina Island, CA to the locations. The Var review gives the screenplay writer's name as Pat Fiedler, but the onscreen credits list Pat Fielder. A 1 Oct 1956 HR news item adds Joe Hamilton to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Jun 1957.
---
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1956.
---
Daily Variety
21 May 1957
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 May 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1956
p. 3, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1957
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Jun 1957
p. 411.
Variety
22 May 1957
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Underwater seq dir
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cinemacrography by
Underwater seq photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff created by
Process cam
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod asst
Underwater seq tech adv
Underwater equipment
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Jagged Edge
The Kraken
Release Date:
July 1957
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: 14 June 1957
Production Date:
began early September 1956 at Hal Roach Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Gramercy Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 June 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8606
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
83-84
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18376
SYNOPSIS

At a U.S. Navy research base near California’s Salton Sea, a four-hundred square mile body of salt water in the middle of an arid desert, top-secret atomic experiments are conducted. A parachute testing unit is also based there and flies daily missions over the sea. Shortly after an earthquake centered below the Salton Sea occurs, two seamen, on a regular mission, wait in a launch to pick up a parachutist when he lands in the water. On this occasion, when they reach the parachute they find no trace of the man. One seaman dives into the water to search for the jumper but does not resurface. The other seaman reacts in horror to the sudden appearance of a giant creature. When the seamen fail to respond to radio messages, naval intelligence officer John “Twill” Twillinger, recently assigned to the base, is alerted and sets out with Lt. Bob “Clem” Clemens to investigate. They find only the body of the one seaman on board and a strange mucus-like substance smeared over the boat. Suddenly, the mangled body of the parachutist floats to the surface. Twill orders an autopsy of both bodies and takes a sample of the substance to Dr. Jess Rogers at the base’s laboratory. While waiting for Rogers’ evaluation, Twill meets Rogers’ secretary, Gail MacKenzie, and her young daughter Sandy. The next day, at the county morgue, the coroner tells Twill and Sheriff Josh Peters that both bodies had been drained of blood and water and that the seaman probably died of a fear-induced stroke. Twill then asks Peters to post a complete ban on swimming in the sea. However, that night, a young couple, unaware of the ... +


At a U.S. Navy research base near California’s Salton Sea, a four-hundred square mile body of salt water in the middle of an arid desert, top-secret atomic experiments are conducted. A parachute testing unit is also based there and flies daily missions over the sea. Shortly after an earthquake centered below the Salton Sea occurs, two seamen, on a regular mission, wait in a launch to pick up a parachutist when he lands in the water. On this occasion, when they reach the parachute they find no trace of the man. One seaman dives into the water to search for the jumper but does not resurface. The other seaman reacts in horror to the sudden appearance of a giant creature. When the seamen fail to respond to radio messages, naval intelligence officer John “Twill” Twillinger, recently assigned to the base, is alerted and sets out with Lt. Bob “Clem” Clemens to investigate. They find only the body of the one seaman on board and a strange mucus-like substance smeared over the boat. Suddenly, the mangled body of the parachutist floats to the surface. Twill orders an autopsy of both bodies and takes a sample of the substance to Dr. Jess Rogers at the base’s laboratory. While waiting for Rogers’ evaluation, Twill meets Rogers’ secretary, Gail MacKenzie, and her young daughter Sandy. The next day, at the county morgue, the coroner tells Twill and Sheriff Josh Peters that both bodies had been drained of blood and water and that the seaman probably died of a fear-induced stroke. Twill then asks Peters to post a complete ban on swimming in the sea. However, that night, a young couple, unaware of the ban, go swimming and are subsequently reported missing. Twill sends two divers, Tad Johns and George Blake from Rogers’ lab, to swim to the bottom of the sea and take radioactivity readings. All appears normal until the divers descend into a cave underneath the sea bottom and find a large, egg-like object that is radioactive. The egg is hauled up to the launch and as Johns and Blake prepare to join it, Blake is captured by a creature and killed. On board the launch, Johns is recounting what happened below when the creature rears up out of the water and threatens them. After Twill drives it away by destroying one of its eyes with a pole, they return to the base where the egg is placed in a controlled temperature water tank. While Rogers consoles Blake’s widow, Gail tells Twill that she, too, is a widow, having lost her pilot husband two years earlier. Within a few hours, Twill mounts an expedition to destroy all the creatures and their eggs using underwater explosives. Meanwhile, Rogers explains to military officials his belief that the creatures are descendents of the historically documented Kraken family of water mollusks. Rogers also states that the earthquake probably caused a fissure in the sea’s floor through which radioactive water seeped, fertilizing the eggs and causing the creatures to become enormous. Although the cave will be sealed, Rogers fears that some of the creatures could escape into the nearby All-American Canal and threaten the entire world. Although an around-the-clock patrol of the canal system is ordered, two more people are killed. The next day, at a local museum, Twill and Peters attempt to find old maps of underground rivers in the area, but are unsuccessful. After a creature strikes again, killing a gatekeeper at one of the canal’s locks, all the locks are closed in an attempt to isolate and trap it. Soon after, Gail’s young daughter Sandy enters the lab to see some caged rabbits and, thinking that she is turning up the heat for them, changes the temperature in the water tank. Later, after the museum archivist comes to the command post to deliver an old map of Indian wells, Twill and Rogers survey the mapped area from a helicopter and spot a scum-covered body of water, which they think may contain the creatures. Twill joins Johns on a dive and they locate several dormant creatures, set explosive charges and destroy them. Meanwhile, the egg in the laboratory has hatched, producing a full-size creature, which threatens Gail and Sandy, forcing them to hide in a closet. The creature has almost broken through the closet door when Twill and Rogers return. While Rogers goes for help, Twill diverts the creature’s attention by spraying it with the contents of a fire extinguisher, allowing Gail and Sandy to escape. Twill then contains the creature with a hose of hot steam until three riflemen arrive and kill it. Later, Twill, Gail and Sandy walk off together. +

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.