The Cyclops


1h 15m 1957
The Cyclops

Brief Synopsis

A search party goes into the jungles of Mexico to find a missing test pilot. What they find is a gigantic, one-eyed, mutated monster who became as such through a dose of radioactivity.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Thriller
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jul 28, 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
B & H Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

After Susan Winters' fiancé, Bruce Burton, is reported missing in a plane crash in Mexico, she organizes a search party to fly into a mountainous area to look for him. In addition to Susan, the group includes Martin Melville, a stock speculator who believes there is uranium in the mountains and has partially financed the trip, Russ Bradford, a bacteriologist friend of Burton and hired pilot Lee Brand. After they land their light plane in Guayjorm, Susan is denied permission to proceed by the local governor, who is very suspicious of the group's motives for being there. The governor orders them to leave and assigns an officer to accompany them out of Mexico. At the airstrip, however, Melville knocks out the officer and they take off for the area where Bruce's small plane was known to have crashed. Melville becomes very excited when a meter he is carrying indicates large uranium deposits in the mountains. Suddenly the plane hits air pockets and Melville panics, knocks out Lee and takes over control of the plane. From the seat behind Melville, Russ tries to regain control as they hurtle toward the ground, but Lee recovers in time to land the plane safely. When Melville confirms that the rocks are rich in uranium, he wants to leave immediately to file a claim, but the others remind him of the true purpose of the search. The next day as Susan and Russ set off on foot to the site of Bruce's crash, Russ tells her that he is in love with her and is tired of competing with a man who is probably dead. After coming upon a giant bird attacking a giant rat, they return to the plane where Susan takes possession of the ignition keys as she fears Melville may bribe Lee to take off without them. When Russ and the others witness a fight between a giant iguana and a giant lizard, Melville becomes even more determined to leave, but Russ tells him they will all leave together once their mission is accomplished. In order to determine how the animals in the area have grown to be so enormous, Russ removes skin tissue from the dying iguana and, after examining it in a microscope, determines that there is no limit to the potential size of the animals as their cells, stimulated by radioactivity, are continuously subdividing. Russ then warns the others that they are in danger of being similarly affected and they should all leave as soon as possible. The next morning, Susan sets off alone and finds a wing section of Bruce's plane, then is abducted. Her screams lead the others to a cave where they find more wreckage, Bruce's flight jacket and watch and the hysterical Susan. Suddenly, a giant, twenty-five foot tall, male human, with a hideously deformed face and only one eye, blocks the exit from the cave and roars threateningly at the group. That night, when the Cyclops attempts to communicate with the group, Susan tells him her name, but Melville picks up a rifle and shoots at him. The Cyclops retaliates by killing Melville, then lifts Susan up and places her on a rock outside the cave. When a giant snake threatens Susan, the Cyclops rescues her, and in the chaos Russ and Lee escape from the cave. Suddenly realizing that the giant might once have been her fiancé, Susan becomes emotionally distraught. After the Cyclops falls asleep, Russ, Lee and Susan run back to the plane and are about to take off when the Cyclops reappears and they are forced to flee. Russ then creates a burning stake, which he launches into the Cyclops' eye, mortally wounding him. Susan, Lee and Russ start the plane and manage to take off as the Cyclops once again approaches. Russ comforts Susan as she looks down on what was once her fiancé.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Thriller
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jul 28, 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
B & H Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

The Cyclops (1957) - The Cyclops


Nicknamed Mr. B.I.G. by Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J. Ackerman, Bert I. Gordon is a writer/director/producer whose low-budget efforts in the horror and sci-fi genre were distinguished by Gordon's obsession with SIZE. A quick glance at his filmography reveals the director's fascination with scale and perspective in such infamous titles to his credit as King Dinosaur (1955), Attack of the Puppet People (1958) and Village of the Giants (1965). And even though the special effects work in Gordon's films can't compete with the more meticulous stop-motion animation and matte work of his contemporary Ray Harryhausen, the director's best known movies such as Beginning of the End (1957), which features giant grasshoppers attacking Chicago, The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and Earth vs. the Spider (1958) retain a tacky charm and amuse as lowbrow entertainments but often reflect the nuclear age fears of their era.

The Cyclops (1957), one of his earliest efforts, is fondly remembered by many filmgoers who saw the movie as kids at a Saturday matinee, having been drawn in by its huckster poster campaign: "World's Mightiest Horror! More Monstrous Than Anything Human Eyes Have Seen! The Giant Man-Thing growing 50 Ft. high in a horrendous land where nature has gone mad!" Typical of most fantasy genre films of its era, the one-sheet for The Cyclops reveals its star attraction in all of his hideous glory but the creature doesn't make an actual appearance in the film until the final third. Prior to that, the story follows Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott), a woman who organizes a small search party to find her missing fiancé in the mountains of Mexico. Accompanying her are her fiancé's friend, scientist Russ Bradford (James Craig), pilot Lee Brand (Tom Drake) and uranium speculator Martin Melville (Lon Chaney, Jr.), who is partially financing the trip. The search party, despite warnings from Mexican officials, eventually land their plane in a remote valley that is populated by mutant animals, the result of radioactivity. Eventually they discover evidence of Susan's missing boyfriend Bruce - his wrecked plane, a flight jacket - which is topped by an even more shocking revelation.

An independent production, The Cyclops was initially slated to be distributed by RKO on a double feature with X the Unknown but that deal collapsed when the studio's distribution arm folded. Instead the movie was paired with Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, also starring Gloria Talbott. The attractive, sexy brunette was a popular "scream queen" of fifties horror films, appearing in such iconic movies as I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) and The Leech Woman (1960). She is prominently showcased in this often risible outing and shares some memorably inane moments with her co-stars James Craig (The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941), Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man,1941, Of Mice and Men, 1939), and Tom Drake (The White Cliffs of Dover, 1944, Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944) - all of whom had seen better days in their Hollywood careers and were now relegated to B movies.

The dialogue alone qualifies The Cyclops as a guilty pleasure for some. Gordon, who wrote the screenplay, has a fondness for lines that state the obvious in a way that only exaggerates the absurdity of the remark. For example, when the pilot hears the agonized roar of the Cyclops, he says, "That doesn't sound like wild turkey." When Craig and Talbott return from spotting some gigantic lizards and are asked in a mocking tone by Drake and Chaney if they saw dinosaurs, Craig solemnly states, "Susan and I saw a rodent as big as a dog and a hawk about twelve feet tall." The absence of any irony in these solemn exchanges transforms the flat dialogue into comic punch lines. The dynamics between the poorly drawn characters is equally nutty. Melville (Chaney) is revealed to be a dangerous wild card early on - he knocks out the pilot during an argument and almost crashes the plane - yet is allowed to endanger the group's safety again and again. Bradford (Craig), supposedly the most intelligent one in the group because he's a bacteriologist, turns out to be a detached and egocentric stereotype of the scientific personality. Not only does he display no emotion toward encountering his former friend, now transformed into a mutant beast, but he even persuades Susan to risk her life as bait in an effort to help their group escape from the Cyclops' cave. When Susan snaps, "You're so cold-blooded, you sound like you're enjoying this," Bradford responds unapologetically, "I am. As a scientist."

In an interview with Tom Weaver for his book Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers, Gloria Talbott recalled what it was like being directed by Bert I. Gordon. "He was like a man possessed because he did have to get it finished quickly; this was done in five or six days." The actress remembered being particularly upset by Gordon's remark, prior to shooting a scene, that she was a weak screen presence and completely overpowered by her co-stars Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray in We're No Angels (1955). "To this day," Talbott said, "I don't know if he just wanted me angry in that one scene - but if he did, he did a very good job! I was absolutely infuriated, and I stayed mad at him throughout the rest of the picture....You'll remember that in that first scene my character is agitated? Well, it's not all acting! I was mad as hell that first day - I came close to quitting."

Lon Chaney, Jr. was already a full-fledged alcoholic at this point in his career and would often be drunk on his film sets but still able to function and do his scenes. Talbott said, "He was a bear of a man, but kind and sweet" and recounted one scene where her three co-stars were all drinking during their scene in the Cessna prop, Talbott and Craig in the backseat and Drake and Chaney in front: "...both Lon and Tom were absolutely smashed. James Craig was nipping a little, too, but nothing like what was going on in the front! And in this -h-o-t, tiny mock-up I was getting blasted from the fumes! It was such close quarters and so hot that I was ingesting alcohol through my skin. I was getting absolutely stoned, and by the time we got out of there I was weaving. If you watch that scene, you'll see that every once in a while I look a little sick - well, I was!"

It was no surprise to anyone that The Cyclops was mostly ignored or dismissed by critics during its original release but provided a passable diversion for fans of the genre. The Variety review was typical of the mainstream press response: "Elementary in conception and execution, this science-fiction entry relies heavily on the gruesome to make its point....Bert I. Gordon wrote, produced and directed, with no particular distinction in any area." Yet, the film's enduring appeal has a lot to do with the cult nature of sci-films and Gordon's legacy as a B movie maverick. This excerpt from Michael Weldon's The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film pinpoints The Cyclops's quirky attraction for fans: "The 50-foot monster is Bert Gordon's dumbest/weirdest special effect. His mutated face is half covered with flabby flesh, half the mouth shows oversize teeth, and of course there is one oversized eye. If he resembles the guy in War of the Colossal Beast [1958] it's because it's the same actor (Dean Parkin). A trash classic!"

Producer: Bert I. Gordon
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Screenplay: Bert I. Gordon
Cinematography: Ira Morgan
Music: Albert Glasser
Film Editing: Carlo Lodato
Cast: James Craig (Russ Bradford), Gloria Talbott (Susan Winter), Lon Chaney (Martin 'Marty' Melville), Tom Drake (Lee Brand), Duncan Parkin (The Cyclops (Bruce Barton)), Vincent Padula (The Governor), Marlene Kloss (The Salesgirl), Manuel López (The Policeman).
BW-66m.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES:
Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup by Tom Weaver (McFarland)
Lon Chaney, Jr.: Horror Film Star 1906-1973 by Don G. Smith (McFarland)
Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s by Tom Weaver (McFarland)
www.afi.com
IMDB
The Cyclops (1957) - The Cyclops

The Cyclops (1957) - The Cyclops

Nicknamed Mr. B.I.G. by Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J. Ackerman, Bert I. Gordon is a writer/director/producer whose low-budget efforts in the horror and sci-fi genre were distinguished by Gordon's obsession with SIZE. A quick glance at his filmography reveals the director's fascination with scale and perspective in such infamous titles to his credit as King Dinosaur (1955), Attack of the Puppet People (1958) and Village of the Giants (1965). And even though the special effects work in Gordon's films can't compete with the more meticulous stop-motion animation and matte work of his contemporary Ray Harryhausen, the director's best known movies such as Beginning of the End (1957), which features giant grasshoppers attacking Chicago, The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and Earth vs. the Spider (1958) retain a tacky charm and amuse as lowbrow entertainments but often reflect the nuclear age fears of their era. The Cyclops (1957), one of his earliest efforts, is fondly remembered by many filmgoers who saw the movie as kids at a Saturday matinee, having been drawn in by its huckster poster campaign: "World's Mightiest Horror! More Monstrous Than Anything Human Eyes Have Seen! The Giant Man-Thing growing 50 Ft. high in a horrendous land where nature has gone mad!" Typical of most fantasy genre films of its era, the one-sheet for The Cyclops reveals its star attraction in all of his hideous glory but the creature doesn't make an actual appearance in the film until the final third. Prior to that, the story follows Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott), a woman who organizes a small search party to find her missing fiancé in the mountains of Mexico. Accompanying her are her fiancé's friend, scientist Russ Bradford (James Craig), pilot Lee Brand (Tom Drake) and uranium speculator Martin Melville (Lon Chaney, Jr.), who is partially financing the trip. The search party, despite warnings from Mexican officials, eventually land their plane in a remote valley that is populated by mutant animals, the result of radioactivity. Eventually they discover evidence of Susan's missing boyfriend Bruce - his wrecked plane, a flight jacket - which is topped by an even more shocking revelation. An independent production, The Cyclops was initially slated to be distributed by RKO on a double feature with X the Unknown but that deal collapsed when the studio's distribution arm folded. Instead the movie was paired with Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, also starring Gloria Talbott. The attractive, sexy brunette was a popular "scream queen" of fifties horror films, appearing in such iconic movies as I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) and The Leech Woman (1960). She is prominently showcased in this often risible outing and shares some memorably inane moments with her co-stars James Craig (The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941), Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man,1941, Of Mice and Men, 1939), and Tom Drake (The White Cliffs of Dover, 1944, Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944) - all of whom had seen better days in their Hollywood careers and were now relegated to B movies. The dialogue alone qualifies The Cyclops as a guilty pleasure for some. Gordon, who wrote the screenplay, has a fondness for lines that state the obvious in a way that only exaggerates the absurdity of the remark. For example, when the pilot hears the agonized roar of the Cyclops, he says, "That doesn't sound like wild turkey." When Craig and Talbott return from spotting some gigantic lizards and are asked in a mocking tone by Drake and Chaney if they saw dinosaurs, Craig solemnly states, "Susan and I saw a rodent as big as a dog and a hawk about twelve feet tall." The absence of any irony in these solemn exchanges transforms the flat dialogue into comic punch lines. The dynamics between the poorly drawn characters is equally nutty. Melville (Chaney) is revealed to be a dangerous wild card early on - he knocks out the pilot during an argument and almost crashes the plane - yet is allowed to endanger the group's safety again and again. Bradford (Craig), supposedly the most intelligent one in the group because he's a bacteriologist, turns out to be a detached and egocentric stereotype of the scientific personality. Not only does he display no emotion toward encountering his former friend, now transformed into a mutant beast, but he even persuades Susan to risk her life as bait in an effort to help their group escape from the Cyclops' cave. When Susan snaps, "You're so cold-blooded, you sound like you're enjoying this," Bradford responds unapologetically, "I am. As a scientist." In an interview with Tom Weaver for his book Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers, Gloria Talbott recalled what it was like being directed by Bert I. Gordon. "He was like a man possessed because he did have to get it finished quickly; this was done in five or six days." The actress remembered being particularly upset by Gordon's remark, prior to shooting a scene, that she was a weak screen presence and completely overpowered by her co-stars Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray in We're No Angels (1955). "To this day," Talbott said, "I don't know if he just wanted me angry in that one scene - but if he did, he did a very good job! I was absolutely infuriated, and I stayed mad at him throughout the rest of the picture....You'll remember that in that first scene my character is agitated? Well, it's not all acting! I was mad as hell that first day - I came close to quitting." Lon Chaney, Jr. was already a full-fledged alcoholic at this point in his career and would often be drunk on his film sets but still able to function and do his scenes. Talbott said, "He was a bear of a man, but kind and sweet" and recounted one scene where her three co-stars were all drinking during their scene in the Cessna prop, Talbott and Craig in the backseat and Drake and Chaney in front: "...both Lon and Tom were absolutely smashed. James Craig was nipping a little, too, but nothing like what was going on in the front! And in this -h-o-t, tiny mock-up I was getting blasted from the fumes! It was such close quarters and so hot that I was ingesting alcohol through my skin. I was getting absolutely stoned, and by the time we got out of there I was weaving. If you watch that scene, you'll see that every once in a while I look a little sick - well, I was!" It was no surprise to anyone that The Cyclops was mostly ignored or dismissed by critics during its original release but provided a passable diversion for fans of the genre. The Variety review was typical of the mainstream press response: "Elementary in conception and execution, this science-fiction entry relies heavily on the gruesome to make its point....Bert I. Gordon wrote, produced and directed, with no particular distinction in any area." Yet, the film's enduring appeal has a lot to do with the cult nature of sci-films and Gordon's legacy as a B movie maverick. This excerpt from Michael Weldon's The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film pinpoints The Cyclops's quirky attraction for fans: "The 50-foot monster is Bert Gordon's dumbest/weirdest special effect. His mutated face is half covered with flabby flesh, half the mouth shows oversize teeth, and of course there is one oversized eye. If he resembles the guy in War of the Colossal Beast [1958] it's because it's the same actor (Dean Parkin). A trash classic!" Producer: Bert I. Gordon Director: Bert I. Gordon Screenplay: Bert I. Gordon Cinematography: Ira Morgan Music: Albert Glasser Film Editing: Carlo Lodato Cast: James Craig (Russ Bradford), Gloria Talbott (Susan Winter), Lon Chaney (Martin 'Marty' Melville), Tom Drake (Lee Brand), Duncan Parkin (The Cyclops (Bruce Barton)), Vincent Padula (The Governor), Marlene Kloss (The Salesgirl), Manuel López (The Policeman). BW-66m. by Jeff Stafford SOURCES: Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup by Tom Weaver (McFarland) Lon Chaney, Jr.: Horror Film Star 1906-1973 by Don G. Smith (McFarland) Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s by Tom Weaver (McFarland) www.afi.com IMDB

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Bert I. Gordon's title card reads: "Written, Produced and Directed by Bert I. Gordon." Although the copyright registration and the Motion Picture Daily review listed a running time of seventy-five minutes for the film, other contemporary trade reviews listed sixty-six minutes, which was the length of the print viewed. A October 4, 1956 Daily Variety news item reported that Cyclops would be released by RKO as part of a double bill with X the Unknown (see below). With the demise of RKO's distribution arm, the films were acquired by different distributors.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1957

Released in United States Summer July 1957