Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) at Wonders in the Dark

The Rhedosaurus attacks a lighthouse in
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953).

This is about the day Jean Renoir watched The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. I’m not making this part up. He went to a matinee.

To repeat: Jean Renoir—a giant among film artists, director of The Rules of the Game (cited by some sophisticated and astute people as the greatest film ever made) and other masterpieces, ranked as the fourth greatest director of all time in the 2002 BFI Sight and Sound poll, son of the famed impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir—had a grand time at a matinee in summer 1953 watching The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms accompanied by Eugene Lourié, the movie’s director.

Years later, writing his 1985 memoir My Work in Films, Lourié remembered: “Renoir reacted just like the youngsters surrounding us. ‘Eh bien, mon vieux,’ he said. ‘You surely had a wonderful time making this film.’”

I’d give anything for a photo of Jean Renoir and Eugene Lourié in that movie theater, surrounded by a happy sea of monster-loving children and thrill-seeking adults, enjoying the first of the 1950s cycle of giant-monster-attacking-a-city movies. According to Lourié, it made Renoir feel like a kid again.

Monster movies have a way of doing that. Apparently, even the most sensitive and compassionate of directors can enjoy an afternoon of popcorn, rampaging dinosaurs, and urban mayhem. It’s good for the soul.
The essay continues at Wonders in the Dark

This is my second contribution to the Top 100 Science Fiction Countdown at Wonders in the Dark. There’s a little hint at the end regarding what my third contribution will be. Enjoy!

© 2016 Lee Price

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