Wednesday, 24 August 2011

“You can play house later.”

These days some of us have to live with hot weather (and what is hot or not I'll leave to your own decision - as always..) - anyway: There are some films which in my opinion are quite good picks for hot summer days - and this post is dealing with one of them..

(well - any idea??)

Once upon a time William Alland – who was a member of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater and played the journalist in CITIZEN KANE, you know: whose face you’ll never see.. ;”) – was at a dinner party at Orson Welles' when Mexican cameraman Gabriel Figueroa told a story about a half-fish / half-human being which should be living at the Amazonas area.

William Alland later made a film script from this story, which – directed by Jack Arnold - brought you one of film history's most beloved monsters - and also in 3D:


In a nutshell:

Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) found a skeletal hand with webs in a lagoon at the Amazonas – he travels to the USA to get a team of scientists for an excursion.

When they arrive in the lagoon the waiting research team of Dr. Maia has been killed. Very soon the "still alive team" finds out that the missing link between humans and fish really exists: a gill-man (Ricou Browning for underwater parts / Ben Chapman ashore), who starts to take interest in Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams), the only women of the team. When the team’s boss Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) decides – against the will of ichthyologist Dr. David Read (Richard Carlson), who is engaged to Kay - to bring back that creature to the marine institute (not necessarily alive..) instead of just some pictures of it – the situation really starts to become tense for the team..

Watch out for:
  • The marks of the gill-man on Richard Carlson's body after the fight! - Isn't that just great? I love that they were that accurate in this aspect!

  • You can spot some sharks in the marine biology institute!! Yay for that! (I LOVE SHARKS!!! – marvellous creatures..)


  • The original title for the film was “BLACK LAGOON” - but apparently Universal Studio bosses didn't find it appealing enough.

  • Though the plan of William Alland was not to show the gill-man for more than the first half of the film because of the higher suspense effect - the studio decided to show it rather early in the film - the costume was apparently to expensive to be not shown..

  • It is said that Ingmar Bergman watched this film every year at his birthday..

  • When Jenny Clark of Cambridge University discovered a new fossile - she named it Eucritta melanolimnetes - which is greek and means: creature of the black lagoon.. ...

  • The stuntman who did the “gill-man is on fire” bit was Rock Hudson’s stuntman..

  • Ricou Browning also worked on TV-show FLIPPER and for the underwater shots of THUNDERBALL (1965) and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983).

  • There was a $ 500,000 insurance for Julia Adams's legs – though they weren’t shown that often in her films – which would be mostly western.. - good for those of you who like to look at women's legs: In this film she is showing them quite a lot..

  • The gill-man also appeared in an episode of TV show THE MUNSTERS (1964) - as Uncle Gilbert (I don't know about you - but I think this is funny.. It's the perfect name!)

  • The actors who personated the creature could hardly see while wearing the costume. One time Ben Chapman had to carry Julia Adams into to creature’s cave – he misjudged the distance to the wall – and knocked Miss Adams almost unconscious.. ~ ouch! ~

Spoil the fun - the tricks they used:

  • For the scenes in which the scientists use some chemical product to slightly poison the gill-man and these products dissolve underwater they actually used cream.

  • So that the audience could tell which character they see in the underwater scenes the studio decided that Richard Carlson’s character carries 2 tanks while Richard Denning’s character carries 1 tank.

Murphy’s law:

  • The wet footprints of the creature doesn’t match the way it walks – to remind Ben Chapman that he had to shovel his feet there were added some weight into the creature-suit, so that he would have troubles to lift his feet..

Buttons and Bows:

Hollywood costumes are awesome. I love most of them and get some inspiration from films - but actually I don't have that often the opportunity to wear those fancy dresses..

So I am always amazed by simple and "all-day" outfits: though back then the white bathing costume she wears in this movie was quite racy, the wardrobe of Julia Adams in this film is just great:

Let's face the music:

For this film the talents of Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein and Henry Mancini were used. The three-note-creature-theme is probably one of the most famous film themes ever. The composers were instructed to use it as much as possible - not quite the dream of a composer, I guess..

Never-ending story (sequels and remakes):

  • There are two sequels:



  • I am very excited because for 2012 there is a remake announced! - Though I am pretty sure it'll have a tough time beating this gem..

Ricou Browning once told a nice little anecdote:

One time while shooting underwater he noticed that he had to use the washroom – so he gave signals that he had to make a pause and decided instead of been carried by boat there that he would rather swim underwater to the shore.
When he arrived at the shore and climbed up the ladder there – the first thing he spotted were a child and the child’s mother just in front of him. The child started to scream. Ricou said “Boo!” – the child started to scream even more and ran away – followed by his mother. Ricou ran after them shouting: “It’s okay!!” – Surprisingly this didn’t help at all..

After that Ricou Browning didn’t scare people that often anymore.. ;”)

Let's have a look:

Quotes corner:

You don’t sound like a scientist, but like some big-game hunter out for the kill.

I am a bit too imaginary – so leaving things to my imagination and not showing them just does the trick for me. Showing how bodies are ripped, throats cut etc. just makes me think about the technique and make up and stuff like that – the real horror for me is just leaving me on my own – my brain can do horrible things to me.. That’s why even mainly considered poor films are that much enjoyable for me.. ;”) I just add things..

(When my sister and I watched this film for the first time she made fun of me because I actually was a bit appalled by scenes in which Julia Adams didn't know how near the gill-man was.. and the "Dr. Maia's team is going to be killed"- scene really appealed to me.. my sister was like: "Oh, please: there isn't even bowel - you're a sissy!")

I just adore the underwater scenes. (yes - I love bubbles..)

And I think the Julie Adams swims ”with” the creature scene is just awesome. Though it is another actress you’ll see when Kay is shown from an underwater angle.

Just btw: I would not swim in that water - by all means: dangerous catfish? Water I don’t know?? Amazonas?? Uhm.. no.. Thank you very much.. though.. I do swim in the North sea and the Baltic sea – and there are sharks.. (I never spotted them but they are there.. ;”) – I made some acquaintance with some other fish and underwater animals though..) hm.. maybe I'll rather stay out of the water from now on..

I love that the Julie Adams’ character Kay is not “just” the wife of someone of the crew but a scientist herself. Yeah, she is not the boss – but she isn’t a lovely little piece of decoration either. That’s great. She is there on this boat because she has a “task” – not just because a wife will go wherever her husband goes.. Lovely image – but I really prefer the “woman with a mission image”.

And of course I have great sympathy for that poor creature!! That lovely little thing.. so alone – and then some idiotic guys start to poke around in its home and attack it.. Just like Marilyn Monroe’s character in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH said: “It just wanted to be loved.

There are some scenes which actually could be translated as antipollution-appeals : E.g. the scene in which Kay stands on board of the boat and smokes - afterwards she just throws her cigarette into the water - where the gill-man is hiding and looking up to her - and that cigarette.. This scene is a bit sad in my opinion.. but as I said before: I am totally in the gill-man's team! (actually I look quite cute in green, too..)

You know, I think Jack Arnold has quite often such undertones in his films.. but maybe it's just me..

“Whatever the species may be, if you let it alone, it won’t bother you.”

Thank you very much for listening!

Yours truly,

Irene - also a lovely creature herself.. ;")


  1. WOW! What an amazing post Irene. So full of information and details. I love all the behind the scenes facts you wrote about this film. Great job. One of your best posts ever. I really enjoyed reading it.

  2. Thank you very much, Monty - so glad you enjoyed it! :")

    Was fun for me to find out all that information and learn so much about this great piece of film..

  3. Love this! I have always loved and been fascinated with the Monster Movie Posters, but I've never actually seen any of the movies. I really want to—-now especially!

  4. Thank you very much, Perfect Number 6!

    I hope you'll enjoy those monster flicks - well, at least have a bit fun with them.. - because: It might not be creepy - but it's for sure fun.. ;")

  5. What a wonderful post Irene. I love finding out interesting facts and information on the films I love! I love the style of your blog as well, most purtiful! <3

  6. Thank you very much, Jennifer!

    This is a giant compliment because you love that film so much! :")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")