The Blob (1958)

85-86 mins | Science fiction | October 1958

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HISTORY

The film’s title appears after all of the opening cast and crew credits. The onscreen credits state that the film is “A Tonylyn Production,” but list the copyright holder as Tonylynn Productions, Inc., which is how the production company is listed in materials deposited for copyright. In the actual Copyright Catalog, however, the copyright holder is listed as Paramount Pictures Corp. At the end of the picture, the words “The End” transform into a question mark. In the film, the alien substance is never actually referred to as “the blob.”
       In interviews conducted for the film’s release on a special collector’s edition DVD in 2000, producer Jack Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. state that the film’s working title was The Molten Meteor . Harris related in the interview that he hired McQueen after seeing him fill-in for actor Ben Gazzara in the hit Broadway play A Hatful of Rain . The Blob marked the only time that McQueen was billed onscreen as “Steven,” and although some sources state that McQueen made his motion picture debut in the film, he had appeared in two earlier films, Somebody Up There Likes Me and Never Love a Stranger (see below), and, according to modern sources, had been an extra in the film Girl on the Run .
       As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was shot at the Valley Forge Films Studios in Pennsylvania. Modern sources add the nearby towns of Chester Springs, Downingtown and Phoenixville as locations for exteriors. Yeaworth and Harris both related that “the blob” was mostly made from ... More Less

The film’s title appears after all of the opening cast and crew credits. The onscreen credits state that the film is “A Tonylyn Production,” but list the copyright holder as Tonylynn Productions, Inc., which is how the production company is listed in materials deposited for copyright. In the actual Copyright Catalog, however, the copyright holder is listed as Paramount Pictures Corp. At the end of the picture, the words “The End” transform into a question mark. In the film, the alien substance is never actually referred to as “the blob.”
       In interviews conducted for the film’s release on a special collector’s edition DVD in 2000, producer Jack Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. state that the film’s working title was The Molten Meteor . Harris related in the interview that he hired McQueen after seeing him fill-in for actor Ben Gazzara in the hit Broadway play A Hatful of Rain . The Blob marked the only time that McQueen was billed onscreen as “Steven,” and although some sources state that McQueen made his motion picture debut in the film, he had appeared in two earlier films, Somebody Up There Likes Me and Never Love a Stranger (see below), and, according to modern sources, had been an extra in the film Girl on the Run .
       As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was shot at the Valley Forge Films Studios in Pennsylvania. Modern sources add the nearby towns of Chester Springs, Downingtown and Phoenixville as locations for exteriors. Yeaworth and Harris both related that “the blob” was mostly made from silicone. According to modern sources, the special effects for the film took from six to nine months to complete, whereas filming of the actors took only thirty or thirty-one days.
       In a 29 Apr 1988 LAHE article, Harris listed the film’s budget as $147,000. The picture, which was produced without a distributor being set, was sold outright upon completion to Paramount for $300,000, according to modern sources. In a 19 Sep 1958 HR news item, Paramount anticipated that the low-budget film would return “a domestic gross of at least $1,500,000.”
       Yeaworth and Harris noted in their DVD interviews that Ralph Carmichael’s original score over the film’s credits was abandoned by Paramount in favor of the title song, written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David (who are not credited onscreen). Although the film’s pressbook credits “The Five Blobs” with singing the popular song over the onscreen credits, modern sources assert that the “group” was actually singer Bernie Knee performing several tracks. The picture shown in the movie theater sequences in The Blob is the 1955 independent film Dementia (see below). That film, the rights to which had been acquired by Harris in 1957, had been retitled Daughter of Horror by him.
       Harris, who had worked for many years as a motion picture distributor, made his debut as a producer with The Blob . Although several modern sources claim that The Blob marked the feature-length directorial debut of Yeaworth, Yeaworth directed and co-produced the 1956 Truman Enterprises, Inc. feature The Flaming Teenage (see below). Yeaworth and Harris worked on two more films together, the 1959 picture The 4D Man , and 1960’s Dinosaurus! (see below). The Blob marked the film debut of Robert Fields and was the only theatrical film in which popular television and theater actor Earl Rowe (1920—2002) appeared. Aneta Corseaut (1933—1995) made her screen acting debut in the picture and although she appeared frequently on television, made only minor appearances in two later motion pictures. The Blob also marked the final picture of longtime character actor Olin Howlin (1886—1959).
       According to a 2 Nov 1964 DV article, Harris bought the rights to The Blob back from Paramount, and the picture was distributed by Allied Artist on a double bill with Dinosaurus! in mid-Nov 1964. A sequel to The Blob , entitled Beware! The Blob , was produced in 1972 by Jack H. Harris Enterprises. Directed by Larry Hagman, the picture starred Robert Walker, Jr. and Gwynne Gilford and is also known as Son of the Blob . In 1980, The Blob and Beware! The Blob were reissued as a double feature. The original film was remade in 1988 as The Blob , which was directed by Chuck Russell and starred Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith. In 1990, L.A. Connections Productions made Blobermouth , a motion picture of one of the comedy improv troupe’s plays, in which the original film was projected onto a screen without any sound and actors sitting in the front row of the theater would provide their own dialogue, music and sound effects. The company continues to present its theatrical version. In Dec 2005, Paramount Pictures planned a new remake of the original film, to be produced by Scott Rudin and Harris as an action-comedy, but as of spring 2007, that project had not been realized. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1987.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1958.
---
Daily Variety
10 Sep 58
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Nov 1964
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Sep 58
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
13 Sep 1958.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
12 Sep 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 1958
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 58
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 1980.
---
LAT Magazine
27 Jun 2004
p. 6.
Los Angeles Examiner
11 Sep 1958.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
29 Apr 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Sep 1958.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Sep 58
p. 984.
New York Times
7 Sep 1958.
---
New York Times
7 Nov 58
p. 23.
Variety
10 Sep 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
From an orig idea by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Chief set elec
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Blob," music and lyrics by Burt Bacharach and Mack David.
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1958
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 September 1958
Production Date:
1957 at Valley Forge Films Studios, Yellow Springs, PA
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1958
Copyright Number:
LP12114
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
85-86
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18893
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One evening, at a lovers’ lane outside the small town of Dowingtown, teenagers Steve Andrews and Jane Martin see what looks like a shooting star fall to Earth. Hoping to locate the object, Steve and Jane drive through the countryside, while at a nearby shack, an old man finds the mysterious meteorite. After being poked by the old man’s stick, the rock cracks open, revealing a globe of gelatinous substance. The old man picks it up using the stick and is horrified when the clear material suddenly attaches itself to his hand and he cannot get it off. He runs screaming into the road and is almost run over by Steve and Jane, who drive him to the home of Dr. T. Hallen. The doctor, who was about to leave for a medical conference, had already called his neighbor, Mrs. Porter, to bid her farewell, and turned out his lights, but when Steve and Jane pound on his door, admits them. Hallen is baffled by the substance, which now covers the moaning man’s arm and has turned reddish. The doctor asks Steve and Jane to return to the old man’s home to uncover more evidence, while he examines the now-unconscious man. Upon reaching Steve’s car, however, the two teenagers are confronted by braggart Tony Gressette and his pals “Mooch” Miller and Al, who are angry that Steve drove by them so quickly on his way into town. Tony challenges Steve to a drag race, and Steve, adroitly figuring out how to beat Tony, agrees on the condition that they race in reverse. Steve wins the race but is stopped ... +


One evening, at a lovers’ lane outside the small town of Dowingtown, teenagers Steve Andrews and Jane Martin see what looks like a shooting star fall to Earth. Hoping to locate the object, Steve and Jane drive through the countryside, while at a nearby shack, an old man finds the mysterious meteorite. After being poked by the old man’s stick, the rock cracks open, revealing a globe of gelatinous substance. The old man picks it up using the stick and is horrified when the clear material suddenly attaches itself to his hand and he cannot get it off. He runs screaming into the road and is almost run over by Steve and Jane, who drive him to the home of Dr. T. Hallen. The doctor, who was about to leave for a medical conference, had already called his neighbor, Mrs. Porter, to bid her farewell, and turned out his lights, but when Steve and Jane pound on his door, admits them. Hallen is baffled by the substance, which now covers the moaning man’s arm and has turned reddish. The doctor asks Steve and Jane to return to the old man’s home to uncover more evidence, while he examines the now-unconscious man. Upon reaching Steve’s car, however, the two teenagers are confronted by braggart Tony Gressette and his pals “Mooch” Miller and Al, who are angry that Steve drove by them so quickly on his way into town. Tony challenges Steve to a drag race, and Steve, adroitly figuring out how to beat Tony, agrees on the condition that they race in reverse. Steve wins the race but is stopped and questioned by tolerant police lieutenant Dave, who lectures Steve but then releases him. Steve persuades Tony and his pals to accompany them to the old man’s cabin, while at the doctor’s office, Hallen, concerned about the spread of the seeming parasite, calls his nurse, Kate, to come in and assist him. In the woods, the teenagers find the empty meteor shell but nothing else, and Tony tries to convince Steve to forget the matter and go to a late-night horror film at the local movie theater. Steve agrees and also acquiesces to Jane’s request to take along the old man’s little dog. While the teenagers are driving back to town, Kate arrives at the doctor’s office and is mystified upon discovering that the old man has disappeared completely. The alien mass has grown considerably in size, and when Hallen sees how large it is, he instructs Kate to throw acid on it, but the liquid has no effect. While Hallen rushes to get his shotgun, the substance engulfs Kate, then goes after the doctor, who has locked himself in his study. Still worried, Steve insists on stopping at Hallen’s office and when there is no answer at the door, walks around the house, where through a window he sees the doctor being devoured by the monster. Terrified, Steve and Jane go to the police station, where Sgt. Jim Bert, who has been the butt of several practical jokes by teenagers, dismisses Steve’s story. Dave insists on investigating, however, and the foursome goes to the doctor’s house. Although there are signs of a struggle in the study, Dave and Bert are convinced by Mrs. Porter that Hallen left town for the conference and decide to wait until the doctor’s estimated time of arrival at his hotel to pursue the matter. While the police are calling the teenagers’ parents, a mechanic is eaten by the ever-growing monster. Steve’s father believes that his son is genuinely disturbed about something, but Jane’s irate father, the high school principal, orders Steve never to see Jane again. Determined to find out what is going on, however, the young couple sneak out of their homes and reaffirm their belief in each other. They then persuade Tony and several others to leave the movies and search for the alien substance. Unknown to Steve and the others, the mass has grown again, devouring several bar patrons. The group splits up and searches the town, with Jane being relieved to discover the little dog near Steve’s father’s grocery store. The couple is upset to find that the store is unlocked, and upon entering, conclude that the monster attacked the night clerk. The alien then comes after them, and with nowhere else to go, Steve takes Jane into the meat freezer. Although the mass squeezes under the door, it quickly retreats, and Steve and Jane are able to escape from the store. Steve tells his friends, and when Bert, still thinking that they are pulling a prank, refuses to believe them, they decide that they must alert the town themselves. The teenagers sound off their car horns, the civil defense siren and even the fire station siren, thereby awakening many people and causing them to assemble at the market. Steve’s earnestness and fear convince Dave that he is telling the truth, but when the scoffing Bert searches the market, they find no evidence of the monster. Just then, the mass attacks the movie theater, and dozens of people are killed, while others run screaming out into the street. Horrified by the carnage, Dave attempts to clear the area and set up defenses. Jane’s young brother Danny, seeing the huge substance coming down the street, shoots at it with his cap gun, and Steve and Jane grab him, taking refuge with him in a nearby diner. The monster then engulfs the diner, trapping Steve, Jane, Danny and the diner’s owner and waitress. Dave concocts a plan to kill the mass by electrocuting it, and although Bert succeeds in shooting a power line, the high voltage has no effect on the alien. Hiding in the diner’s cellar, the owner notices that the power line has started a fire, and when he attempts to put it out with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, Steve observes that the encroaching alien retreats from the freezing spray. Realizing that cold stops the monster, Steve yells at Dave to get as many extinguishers as possible. Led by Jane’s father, who breaks into the high school to get twenty extinguishers, the town citizens soon cover the mass with the spray and freeze it. A relieved Steve, Jane and Danny are reunited with their parents, and Dave assures Steve that the military is going to transport the monster to the Arctic, where it will remain frozen and incapable of causing more harm. +

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.