From the video box: When a civilian plane goes down over an Army testing range during a top-secret experiment, Colonel Glenn Manning (Glen Langan) risks his life to rescue the pilot. But Manning is too late, and his heroism earns him a nightmarish future of plutonium-blast proportions as The Amazing Colossal Man. (1957, b&w)
Mark says: You have to feel for Col. Glenn Manning. He risks his neck to save a stranger and finds himself exposed to a plutonium blast that causes him to grow ten feet a day. And if that isn’t bad enough, the explosion occurs on the same day he is to wed his girlfriend, Carol.
This bit of bad luck gives The Amazing Colossal Man a deeper dimension than most Bert I. Gordon movies. After all, who can’t sympathize with a hero who suffers for a good deed? But don’t be fooled, this film features all of the great schlock fun you’ve come to expect from a Bert I. Gordon production.
Glen Langan (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) gives the best performance of the movie as Lt. Col. Glenn Manning. Unfortunately, his performance is mediocre at best. We still care about the guy, but sometimes the theatrics get in the way. He sort of looks like a gigantic Telly Savalas.
Cathy Downs (The She-Creature) plays Carol, his love interest. You couldn’t ask for a more devoted woman, but she comes off as a bit daft. In all fairness, this is probably more of a script problem than an acting flaw. Well, it’s probably a little of both.
However, it is William Hudson (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) as Dr. Paul Linstrom who is given the best lines. He delivers the most outrageous monologues with an ultra-serious, deadpan countenance. For example, this is the scientifically sound explanation he gives Carol as to why Col. Manning’s heart is growing at a slower rate then the rest of his body:
“Now, the reason for this is rather technical, Carol, but to give you a simplified layman’s explanation, it might be explained that, since the heart is made up of a single cell for all practical purposes, instead of millions of cells like the rest of the organs of the body, it’s reacting in an entirely different manner to this unknown stimulus or forces behind this whole thing.”
I bet you didn’t know that the heart is comprised of a single cell. It’s just one of the many golden tidbits of information B-movie fans are privy to.
The special effects aren’t that special, but are certainly fun to watch. We never get the sense that the giant Col. Manning is in the same scene as the other characters. In fact, you get the feeling that the characters are just speaking to a projected image of the Colonel. Suspicious.
However, Col. Manning’s stroll through Las Vegas is definitely worth the price of admission. I’ve never had so much fun watching a giant creature destroy a city. It’s during this sequence that we hear the infamous line spoken by a pedestrian to a police officer, “Are you going to stand by and let him destroy property?”
I truly do enjoy this movie. Not only because of its high camp value, but because I’ve always had a soft spot for the tragic hero, and tragic heroes don’t come any bigger than Lt. Col. Glenn Manning.
Scene to watch for: Maj. Coulter (Larry Thor) is impaled by a giant hypodermic needle.
Line to listen for: “It’s not going so well, is it?”
FYI: The sequel to this movie is War of the Colossal Beast.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ½ out of 5.