Richard Kay

Godzilla, King of Monsters! (1956, Terry O. Morse and Honda Ishirô)

Morse didn’t just direct the added American scenes for Godzilla, King of Monsters! but also did the hatchet job editing it.

The concept–adding in footage of a reporter reporting on what would be an international news event–isn’t bad. But Morse (aided, undoubtedly, by Al C. Ward’s awful scripting) contrives a way to shoehorn Raymond Burr’s American reporter into all of the original Godzilla story. Even though Burr doesn’t have a single scene with Hirata Akihiko’s scientist, Monsters makes them old college chums and Burr inexplicably talks to Hirata’s stand-in on the phone.

I suppose Morse and Ward thought it was necessary to tie plots together, but at most it added two and a half minutes of runtime. Morse could have just recycled the “stairs to the hospital” shot a fourth time.

As for Burr, he’s not very good. The cheapness of his scenes–particularly the one where he’s in a helicopter but sitting in an office–probably hurt the performance. For example, when he’s actual in a torrential downpour, he’s convincing. However, Morse could have spent that money better making sure Burr had a real presence in the third act instead of standing in the background.

The voiceover cast is uniformly terrible, ruining the performances of the original actors. The other American cast is fifty-fifty–Frank Iwanaga is great as Burr’s sidekick (Monsters‘s should’ve been focused on them), but Mikel Conrad’s atrocious as his boss.

With the original version readily available, Monsters should be avoided.



Directed by Terry O. Morse and Honda Ishirô; screenplay by Murata Takeo, Honda and Al C. Ward, based on a story by Kayama Shigeru; directors of photography, Tamai Masao and Guy Roe; edited by Morse; music by Ifukube Akira; production designer, Chûko Satoru; produced by Tanaka Tomoyuki, Edward B. Barison, Richard Kay and Harry Rybnick; released by Embassy Pictures.

Starring Raymond Burr (Steve Martin), Shimura Takashi (Dr. Yamane), Kôchi Momoko (Emiko), Hirata Akihiko (Dr. Serizawa), Takarada Akira (Ogata), Frank Iwanaga (Tomo Iwanaga), Sakai Sachio (Hagiwara), Murakami Fuyuki (Dr. Tabata), Yamamoto Ren (Seiji), Suzuki Toyoaki (Shinkichi), Okabe Tadashi (Dr. Tabata’s Assistant), Ogawa Toranosuke (President of Company) and Mikel Conrad (George Lawrence).

This post is part of the Sum Up | Godzilla, Part One: Showa.

Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956, Curt Siodmak)

Siodmak sure does love his medium shots. He uses the same medium shot for every indoor scene in Curucu, which, along with the atrocious acting and writing, brings some regularity to the film.

I’ve wanted to see this one since I was a kid, mostly because of the excellent poster. It’s strangely unavailable from Universal, even though it’s one of their fifties monster movies. Well, not exactly. It spends most of its running time acting as a travelogue for Brazil and propaganda for missionaries. The native peoples who don’t accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior are evil morons. They’re so moronic, they even have a chief (Tom Payne) who’s wearing blackface. Brown face. Whatever.

Amusingly, priest Harvey Chalk is one of the creepiest priests I can think of in a movie. His performance is awful, but he’s also really creepy.

The acting in Curucu is uniformly horrendous. When budgeting Curucu, which shot on location in Brazil, Universal must not have been paying for cast. They also don’t seem to have wanted to pay for audio–the majority of the running time, Raoul Kraushaar’s terrible score is blaring.

But besides Siodmak (it’s hard to believe this guy wrote The Wolf Man), the fault mostly lies with leading man John Bromfield. Rarely does one get to see such a terrible performance in a theatrical release. Love interest Beverly Garland is bad too.

Save as a cultural artifact (Curucu endeavors to be misogynistic), there’s no reason to subject oneself to this film.



Written and directed by Curt Siodmak; director of photography, Rudolf Icsey; edited by Terry O. Morse; music by Raoul Kraushaar; produced by Richard Kay and Harry Rybnick; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring John Bromfield (Rock Dean), Beverly Garland (Dr. Andrea Romar), Tom Payne (Tupanico), Harvey Chalk (Father Flaviano), Larri Thomas (Vivian), Wilson Viana (Tico) and Sérgio de Oliveira (Captain of Police).

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