CineSavant Column

Tuesday March 21, 2023



A link from Gary Teetzel makes us aware of something new for Kaiju fans.

Well, here’s a surprise: The University of Minnesota Press is going to publish English translations of the original 1950s novelizations of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again written by novelist Shigeru Kayama, who is credited with the original stories for both films. Kayama also contributed to Half Human and The Mysterians. According to the description on “The novellas reveal valuable insights into Kayama’s vision for the Godzilla story, feature plots that differ from those of the films, and display the author’s strong anti-nuclear, pro-environmental convictions.”

The listing states that these are ‘the first English translations of the original novellas about the iconic kaijû Godzilla.”  We’ll have to find out if a 1950s Japanese film novelization is better than the average U.S. novelization, at least the ones written to capitalize on fantasy, horror and sci-fi movies.

According to Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski’s book on Ishiro Honda, Kayama was mostly a writer of detective fiction and ‘speculative adventure’ tales a la H. Rider Haggard. Prior to writing the treatment for Godzilla, he wrote a short story called Jira Monster in which a ‘giant bullet-repelling lizard that walks on its hind legs terrorizes primitive people.’

This link goes directly to the Amazon page: The Original Godzilla Novels.



Gary T. is always on the lookout for horror and Sci-fi rarities on the web, as when he found episodes of The Jack Benny Show with Billy Wilder and Rod Serling.

Continuing the tradition of behind-the-scenes personnel appearing as themselves in 1950s sitcoms, here’s an episode of The Phil Silvers Show in which the legendary producer and showman Michael Todd appears as himself. I can’t remember seeing much if any footage of Mike Todd, anywhere.

Depending on the source we check, this aired in either March or April of 1957, a few months after Around the World in 80 Days premiered, and slightly less than a year before Todd’s death: The Phil Silvers Show (Sgt. Bilko) “Bilko Goes Around the World.”

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson