Monday, August 22, 2011

Creature From The Black Lagoon


Directed by Jack Arnold
Richard Carlson, Julie Adams and Richard Denning

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
- There really is no way to describe the impact of this movie on the viewing public today. There are still some 'old timers' (like me) that think about this very movie every time they enter the water! Movies like "JAWS" (1975) drew a great deal from this movie to create that unseen lurking fear in the dark waters below.

That little unseen bump you just felt brush by your foot
as you were treading water might well be
Place Mouse on Julie Pic above and see what swims below!


The 'WATER' suit which was smaller than the 'LAND' suit
The water suit (right) was substantially smaller than the land suit as described in the video below and inhabited by two entirely different thespians.

Anytime you see the creature on Land it would be 6ft 5in Ben Chapman
Ben Chapman received no screen credit for his work...
inhabiting the 'Gill Man' suit and menacing the delightful Miss Julie. Where as anytime you saw the creature bubbling away underwater he was being portrayed by the somewhat shorter Mr. Ricou Browning
Ricou Browning received no screen credit for his work...
who was apparently able to hold his breath longer than any man alive!

Click Posters To Enlarge

Even 'Gill Men' need a little lovin' !
Of course even 'Gill Men' need some lovin' (Watch Those Flippers there buddy!). I have no idea who the fortunate femme is in this shot on the left but it looks like the 'Gill Man' has heard about the French!

The 'Gill Men' demonstrates his 'Shuffle Off To Buffalo' routine !
Having learned about the fairer sex the 'Gill Man' improves his technique by learning how to 'Shuffle Off To Buffalo' in this candid shot on the right.

The real challenge of the film was constructing the gill man costume. A first version of the creature was rumored to look like the Oscar statuette and was promptly abandoned. The winning design turned out to be a foam rubber construction with a latex skin designed by one Miss Millicent Patrick. A beautiful delightful woman and commercial artist, fashion designer and illustrator of children's books, when she was not acting in feature roles and television.

Miss Millicent Patrick (Click Pix To Enlarge)

Millicent was totally responsible for the design of the iconic creature. For a variety of reasons (including one presumes, sexism) her role was deliberately downplayed by chief Universal makeup artist Bud Westmore, who for half a century received sole credit for the Gill-Man’s conception.

Yes, this reminds me of MY first date!
The 'Gill Man' gets a sudden shot of good old Testosterone and works up the courage to ask the luscious Miss Julie Adams
'Gill Man' discovers he is afflicted with Testosterone...!
for a date! (...reminds me of the first time I ever asked a girl for a date!) this can be a very harrowing life experience for a secluded self conscious creature! But one learns to adapt....

This was a very serious smash hit Hi-Tech Horror movie for the 1950s and holds it's own even with today's masters of special effects and costuming like 'Alien' and 'Predator'.

I am an avid collector of 50s SciFi Movies and this rates right up there very close to the top. If you haven't seen this I would highly recommend you get a copy from AMAZON and add this to your collection, I promise you won't regret it.

(Click Pix To Enlarge)

(Click Pix To Enlarge)

After swimming through the dark waters of the Black Lagoon with the gorgeous Miss Julie Adams the Creature went on to spawn, so there was indeed a TRILOGY of productions in the form of 'Creature From The Black Lagoon' (1954) followed by 'Revenge Of The Creature' (1955) and the final triplet 'The Creature Walks Among Us' (1956).

Occasionally there is a movie that so impacts the public it spawns a book instead of the other way around. This was indeed just such a movie. The 1977 novelization of 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' by Carl Dreadstone offers a completely different origin for the Gill-man so I will not delve into it any further here. Almost 50yrs later the Creature had one last giant surge of Testosterone and gave birth to the Breck Eisner vision entitled 'The Creature From The Black Lagoon Remake'.

In my opinion the remake was a huge distortion of the fabulous original and reminds one of the child that looks an awful lot like the postman
A very politicized creature in the remake...
instead of Dad.

Ben Chapman (10/29/28 – 7/8/91)

The land based creature played by Ben Chapman (above) was given no screen credit and paid just $300 for his one week effort back in 1954 it still must have been a fun experience for any 25yr. old. IMDB lists his birth date as 1908 while on his obituary his birth date is listed as 1928. Personally I believe his obituary is correct as the IMBD date would have made him 45 years old when ‘Creature’ was made. That doesn’t look like a 45 year old man in the picture above. Ben did not work on any of the sequels and passed away in 1991.

I love finding these little discrepancies while researching the movies. It has been my experience they generally come about from old Hollywood stories often repeated until someone writes them down as fact. For example his obituary claims Ben had a small part as a child actor in Marlon Brando’s ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’. That particular film was not made until 1962, eight years after ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’.

Pictured on the right is Ricou Browning who performed all the underwater scenes and was also not credited for his work. Born in 1930 (IMDB) Ricou would be 82 years young as of this writing. He maintained his role as the underwater ‘gill man’ in the sequels ‘Revenge Of The Creature’ (1955) and ‘The Creature Walks Among Us’ (1956).

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very nice blog!

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We love Vintage Hollywood! The likes of Errol Flynn, Richard Widmark, Cary Grant, Sterling Hayden and those magnificent ladies of yesteryear!
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