The Incredible Shrinking Man

Gst Aof Cf Wb 061621 4

Fri, July 9 | 6:30 PM

Tickets | CLICK HERE

Join us for our new weekly film series in the Giant Screen Theater, "Marc Eliot’s Art of Film," with The New York Times Best-Selling Author! Peoria Riverfront Museum is pleased to announce the residency of film critic and historian Marc Eliot, who is the author of more than two dozen books on pop culture and biographies on Hollywood icons. Marc has personally selected each of the films in the "Art of Film" series and provides virtual commentary for each film before and after the film's screening at the museum.

The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957. USA. Directed by Jack Arnold.

Our second Sci-fil film is the great Jack Arnold’s elegant 1957 The Incredible Shrinking Man that perfectly captures the prevalent fear of the day, nuclear warfare, and the resultant loss of man’s stature in a world bent on blowing itself out of existence. Based on Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name that he adapted for the screen (with Richard Alan Simmons), this beautifully written narrative tells what happens when the world gets larger and humanity gets smaller. Robert “Scott” Carey (Grant Williams) mysteriously begins to shrink after passing through a strange glittering cloud while aboard his private yacht; his wife escapes it and all that is to come as she is below deck when Scott is exposed. Surviving a hungry house cat and a fearsome spider, Carey survives to…well, I think you will have to see for yourself. (The poison cloud is as relevant today as it was in the ‘50s; we may substitute the fear of the spread of radiation to the very real Covid pandemic.)

A word about Jack Arnold. He is in my personal, if ever-evolving pantheon. Despite the fact that many of his films were cheaply made crawling creature flicks, “B” westerns (Red Sundown) and what passed for teenage “reality” back then (High School Confidential) his ability to project his personality onto his films recalls another director not treated with the respect he deserves, Michael Curtis. Among Curtiz’ numerous credits are Casablanca and Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Of the Incredible Shrinking Man, Philip K. Scheuer wrote in The Los Angeles Times that the film was "a fascinating exercise in imagination, as terrifying as it is funny…” and I wholeheartedly agree. I would add that it is admirably literate, adult, visually exciting, and from the opening sequence, without a dull moment. You should see it for the story, the direction, and the amazing special effects and for one of the most eloquently filmed denouements of any film. This is Jack Arnold’s masterpiece.

-Marc Eliot