In the 1950s Jack Arnold made a series of films for Universal-International that turned into solid hits. Richard Matheson was building quite the career as a writer with the likes of I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man. It was from that novel that Matheson would write the script for The Incredible Shrinking Man, a classic of science fiction now hitting Blu-ray thanks to Arrow.
Robert Scott Carey (Williams) is on vacation with his wife Lou (Stuart). While out on a boat one day, Carey is briefly caught up in a mysterious cloud that leaves his skin glowing with glitter. Six months later Carey starts to notice his trousers and shirts no longer fit as they should. Undergoing tests, it is confirmed he is indeed shrinking and for a while he becomes a reluctant celebrity. What follows is a film that at first concerns itself with the unsettling ‘reality’ of how such a situation would affect a man, and then a survival picture, as Carey tries to stay alive in a world of giants.
Matheson was a great writer and it shows through in this film. It’s intelligently speculative, exciting, emotionally involving and ultimately interested more in notions of transcendence and what makes us who we are than wrapping everything up in a nice bow. It’s well directed with strong performances and an interesting approach to its high concept and the effects hold up reasonably well to convince you a man really can shrink down.
For this new release we have a decent print of the film that’s nothing spectacular and certainly not free of damage, but not distracting either. There’s a good array of extras for fans of the film starting with a solid and interesting near-50-minute documentary on Arnold and his career that demonstrates just how varied his career was, touching nearly every genre one can imagine. After this there’s a shorter piece with Matheson’s son about the inspiration for the original novel and how he came to create The Shrinking Man. If you want, there’s a copy of the cut-down Super 8 version of the film, the trailer for the film and as standard for early pressings, a booklet with writing on the film. There’s also a commentary by film expert Tim Lucas that’s, as one would expect, packed with plenty of information.
The film itself stands alongside other contemporary films as an example of how science fiction can be used to comment on the world it exists in at the same time as being a very entertaining spectacle. For fans of the film, or those getting into classic ‘50s science fiction, this is a good release that comes recommended.
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JACK ARNOLD / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD MATHESON / STARRING: GRANT WILLIAMS, RANDY STUART, APRIL KENT / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 13TH