CineSavant Column

Saturday October 24, 2020



Step right up — for movie fans with deep pockets there’s nothing better than seeing Hollywood history go on the auction block. Icons and Legends of Hollywood Auction has assembled quite a site, 304 illustrated pages of auction items displayed more attractively than in an old Spiegel’s department store catalog. The prime item is Ursula Andress’s white bikini bathing suit from Dr. No, but beyond the racks of famous costumes the pages feature special effects rigs, spaceship miniatures, ancient cameras, an Oscar staturette (aren’t there rules about those things?), and an enormous cache of movie posters. Many items may have originated with the MGM and Fox auctions, fifty years ago.


You can’t help but get hooked by some of what’s being sold — entire picture cars like The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty. Several pages offer early production scripts for King Kong. If that’s not enough, there’s the original miniature of the SS Venture as well…. and all kinds of production art and documentation associated with effects legend Willis O’Brien.

I could just keep naming interesting items… I stopped reading at about page 82, which displays costumes from Planet of the Apes. The James Bond and Star Trek sections go on for pages and pages. Like I say, it reads like a toy store ‘wish book’ from my childhood. Thanks for the link, Mr. Largent.


A timely reminder of something that has finally gone live — the Kickstarter campaign to restore the color Abbott & Costello musical Jack and the Beanstalk that I touted earlier this month, is now open and rolling.


And finally, just a few days ago (October 17 2020) Greenbriar Picture Shows devoted an entire article to a 1.5-second censor cut made to The Incredible Shrinking Man sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. When Robert Scott Carey kills a tarantula with a sewing pin, jamming and twisting the pin into its body, there is a Medium Close-Up of Carey gripping the pin, as a drop of arachno-blood oozed down the shaft and onto his hand, like a big glob of chocolate syrup. Before CGI this was an uncommonly graphic, super-icky moment, what with Carey surrounded by the eight hairy legs and in such close proximity to those scary fangs. On a big screen the scene screams Insect Fear loud and clear, arachnid or no.

I’ve been blinking and going ‘Huh?’ at the scene for years, as at some point Universal opted to drop a shot, creating a stutter where the splice occurred. I’m guessing that it was done because some influential TV client objected to the spidey gore. For DVD the full shot of the blood dripping down the pin returned, but minus 3 frames at the end. Greenbriar’s John McElwee shows us the missing three frames. Until about ten years ago the official version (even in 35mm at the Cinematheque) was pan-scanned flat, but starting with the DVD Shrinking was returned to its widescreen framing. It’s also being shown on TCM widescreen as well… but still with the odd 3-frames replaced by a freeze frame.

Greenbriar guru McElwee reminds us that the original gloopy cut persisted in Universal’s 8mm digest version from the early 1970s. The ‘twisting’ of the pin happens earlier, and the three frames don’t show anything dynamic occurring. They just add an odd freeze frame beat. I think it must be a video fix to make up for film damage — perhaps the splice tore during handling. That’s only a theory.

I don’t believe that The Incredible Shrinking Man has yet been given a Region A Blu-ray release. Correspondent John Black tells me that he read that the studio remastered the movie in just the last year. C’mon, Universal, do the right thing. We really appreciated the amended bits restored to Psycho, and the brassiere industry salutes you for that one as well. Smoothing out the full Shrinking Man spider attack would be a nice post-Covid gift for 2021 !

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson