Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: John Baragrey, Mala Powers, Otto Kruger, Robert Hutton, Ross Martin, Charles Herbert, Ed Wolff
Written by: Thelma Schnee, based on a story by Willis Goldbeck
Directed by: Eugène Lourié
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 70
Date: 06/01/1958
IMDB

The Colossus of New York (1958)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Giant Leap

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The magic of "B" movies, as with pulp novels, depended mostly on advertising. If the cover or a pulp novel or the poster for a "B" movie depicted enough sex and violence, one could get people to plunk down their money and provide very little effort in return. Such is the case with The Colossus of New York, a "B" movie produced at Paramount and recently unearthed and released to DVD by Olive Films. The poster and the title suggest a giant monster rampaging around New York City, possibly destroying some buildings, cars, and helpless passerby.

In reality, the monster barely moves, and he doesn't even leave the lab until the film's final few minutes. Even then, the creature is so slow and clumsy that it must trick its intended victim to come to it.

The movie begins with two grown brothers. Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin) is a brilliant scientist, focused on the betterment of mankind. His brother Henry (John Baragrey) is not quite so brilliant, but doesn't seem to resent his brother. Their father, William (Otto Kruger), has very clearly chosen Jeremy as his favorite son. Jeremy has it all: a pretty wife, Anne (Mala Powers), and a charming son, Billy (Charles Herbert).

While rescuing a runaway toy of Billy's, Jeremy dies in an accident. William concocts a fiendish plan to insert Jeremy's brain into an electronic body so that he can continue his work; Henry builds the body, but does not believe that Jeremy will be able to function properly without physical stimulus. Unfortunately, Henry is right, and Jeremy's new body (played by Ed Wolff, who played lots of giants and monsters) is a horrible monster.

It's a ridiculous conceit, of course, but for some reason director Eugène Lourié (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Gorgo) concentrates mostly on characters discussing it rather than showing any rampaging. The scientists furrow their brows and seriously ponder this situation, while the colossus walks slowly... ever so slowly... around (one scene was obviously undercranked to get the colossus to his goal a bit faster). It's not as if this material is Nobel Prize-worthy, either.

In other words, this movie commits the crime of being a dull exploitation movie, which is almost as bad as being an unfunny comedy. Olive Films' DVD showcases a nice, high-quality transfer, for those that are interested. In June of 2012, Olive Films followed up with an even nicer looking Blu-ray edition.

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