creature feature: the giant claw (fred f. sears, 1957)
Sunday, May 30, 2021
As often happens with crappy movies like this, the trivia is more interesting than the movie. So I should mention a couple of things that didn't suck about The Giant Claw. The acting by leads Jeff Morrow and cult fave Mara Corday is decent. Some of the dialogue (writers were Samuel Newman and Paul Gangelin) is OK ... at one point, it sounds like outtakes from To Have and Have Not. Fred F. Sears does what he can with the low budget, which was pretty much his best talent as a director.
But that budget! The title monster is as ludicrous as any seen in 50s sci-fi. The legend is that Ray Harryhausen was intended to do the monster effects, until producer Sam Katzman decided to pay $50 (!) to a Mexican model maker. The resulting marionette elicits laughter every time it appears. (One of the trivia points of the film is that Morrow saw it in his hometown, but left before the movie ended because the crowd kept laughing at the monster and he didn't want to be recognized ... Wikipedia adds that "he allegedly went home and began drinking"). One standard way to save money on these films is to use stock footage, and Katzman certainly does this. But he also uses footage from other movies. The IMDB lists Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe as source material. Not to mention the general similarities to Rodan.
On a personal level, the best thing about The Giant Claw is that my wife picked it. I've been watching crappy Creature Features on Saturday afternoons for 60 years, but she usually rolls her eyes at the idea. So I was happy to watch this one, since I don't get too many opportunities to enjoy a Creature Feature with my wife.