1957 sci-fi flick
Plot: After being spritzed with insecticide and made sparkly by a cloud of radioactive material, poor Scott Carey notices that he's started shrinking. It's incredible! He fights to remain relevant until an accident forces him to also fight for his survival.
First, I should point out that I gave this a bonus point for a Billy Curtis appearance, my "Little Person of the Year" back in 2008 when I still used the M-word. Midget. He had only a small role (pun absolutely intended!), but he's always good to see. On the surface, this is pretty typical 50s sci-fi nonsense with a little action-packed survival story tossed in. But I'm convinced that The Incredible Shrinking Man is so much more than that, a kind of psychological allegory or a philosophical wet nightmare. All that stuff about dualism at the end, the infinitesimal and the infinite, the closing of circles, an existential nightmare transitioning into a heroic standing-up to infinity, a backhand to Nietzche's withered cheek, a dab of theology, a little bit of Zeno's paradox thrown in. What a closing monologue and last line! Sure, it's reaching, but it succeeds in getting the butter from the popcorn to the brain. There's a thick layer of sticky context here--symbolic spiders and their webs, man's eternal struggle to eat a piece of moldy cake, the nightmarish possibility that you could be devoured by a pussycat, fire and water symbolism. Aside from all that, it's a good movie anyway. There's some bad acting and an oppressive score, although the opening music featuring a trumpet and theremin is really good. The special effects are outstanding. The killer cats and spiders look real and menacing beside poor shrinking Scott. The sets and effects used to create a new world for the titular character are great. The guy did have translucent legs at one point, but the fact that this never really looked all that dopey is impressive. This is from a Richard Matheson story, and its themes of loneliness and figuring out your place in the world connect it with his The Last Man on Earth and its various remakes. This was a pleasant surprise, and anybody given a free copy of The Incredible Shrinking Man should probably watch it.