Once again, I found a film that is exactly what it says on the tin. The Incredible Shrinking Man stars Grant Williams as Robert Scott Carey, who while vacationing with his wife, is exposed to a mysterious mist that, when combined with the fallout of a truck spraying insecticide, causes him to begin shrinking in height, in weight, in general size overall. It seems the kind of premise that, while fantastical, could never realistically be made in 1957. Well, let this finished product prove that notion completely wrong; The Incredible Shrinking Man is an amazing achievement in the art of the visual effect.
The draw of the film is when Carey begins to shrink. Slight alterations to his clothes and things like his car seat only hint at what’s to come. Suddenly, Carey is 3 feet tall, and populates a set made of oversized versions of all his household items. This would seem to be simple enough to achieve, but to get everything so perfect down to the last detail is a stellar undertaking. Then, the film uses split-screen photography to have the 3-foot Carey stand side by side with his regular-sized wife, and one can hardly imagine the attention to detail it must’ve taken to get both halves of the screen to look completely identical. Then, he gets even smaller, to where he lives in dollhouses and has to contend with the family cat. It’s here that the film starts to make use of early green-screening to have Carey and the cat be in the same frame, and it is in the green-screening that the film appears the most dated. Thankfully, it’s not too bad, though; it’s noticeable, but it’s kept very simple and basic so as to not complicate the effect.
Here’s the thing; most of the entertainment value of this one comes from the amazement of watching Carey shrink and shrink, and the proportionately larger objects he interacts and tangles with, rather than the story. There’s really not too much to the story, other than the guy is shrinking, and some obligatory ancillary action between him and his wife, and him and the doctors; other than that, you may end up coming up empty-handed in that regard. Still, the film does manage to be quite entertaining even with its comparatively (and coincidentally) short story. The film makes up for its shortcomings in the narrative by being resourceful and clever in what adventures it does throw at Carey as he gets smaller and smaller, and what Carey has to do to overcome them. I went into this expecting not too much, knowing what it would give me but not too sure if the technical achievement of the film should’ve made the list. I ended with the complete opposite viewpoint; I’m glad this made the list, I’m glad to have watched it, and I think you’ll ultimately be glad you watched it too.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10