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Don’t Open That Door! #55: 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman' (1959)

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Thursday, Sep 19, 2013
Welcome to our ongoing field guide to 1950s horror and sci-fi movies and the creatures that inhabit them. This week: Allison Hayes gives new meaning to the term "full figured" in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.
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Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

Director: Nathan Juran
Cast: Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers

(US theatrical: 19 May 1958)

Alternate titles: Excuse me, Do You Have This Pink Lacy One in a 86-ZZZ?


POSITIVES:
Charismatic actors give scenery-chewing performances.
Much unintentionally funny dialogue.
Crisp 66 minutes keep moving right along.
  
NEGATIVES:
Special effects are miserable—and there aren’t enough of them


SYNOPSIS: Hard-livin’ Nancy Archer has a late-night run-in with a spherical spaceship—and a giant hand—that leaves her bug-eyed and wacky. Unfortunately for Nancy, this is her default setting anyway, and even more unfortunately, Nancy is married to smooth-talkin’, two-timin’ Harry Archer, who’s got his roving eye fixed on an eyelash-battin’, hip-swangin’ local gal named Honey. When heavy-drinkin’ Nancy reports her close encounter to the local sheriff, he tries to believe her, but ends up thinking poor old Nancy has been hitting the sauce again. The fact that she’s fresh from the mental asylum that doesn’t help her case much either.




Nancy must be fresh out of the mental asylum, because she’s still ga-ga over sweet-talkin’, heart-breakin’ Harry; she tells him, “I love you, Harry… What’s wrong with us, Harry?” Harry doesn’t bother answering, but we in the audience have a hard time not screaming at the top of our lungs: “What’s wrong is that he’s a no-good dirty rat, Nancy! Wake up! He only wants your money!” Oh yes—Nancy has 50 mil tucked away somewhere, which should explain why Harry keeps sniffing around (and Honey keeps sniffing around Harry).


Tear-spewin’ Nancy convinces jaw-clenchin’, booze-guzzlin’ Harry to accompany her to the desert to look for that spaceship—and unexpectedly, they find it. Not so unexpectedly, ownself-savin’ Harry jumps in the car and flees, leaving bosom-heavin’ Nancy to cope. Before you can say, “What kind of self-respecting space alien needs a diamond necklace to power his spaceship, anyway?” Nancy reappears, unconscious but alive, on the roof of the pool house. She’s found by the neighbors, tucked into bed and given a shot—and then expands to fifty feet in height. Hey! How’d that happen?


Frankly,we don’t care. There’s about ten minutes left in this movie, and we finally get what we paid to see: a rip-snortin’ Nancy on the rampage. Unfortunately, the movie really breaks down here, as this is about the lamest “rampage” in the history of film. Nancy swans into town, moving in a dreamy slow-motion, and scares a couple teenagers; rips down a motel sign (ooh) and breaks a window (ooh!) before making her way to the bar where heavy-gropin’ Harry and heavy-breathin’ Honey are sharin’ spit. Nancy proceeds to raise the roof, literally. Mayhem ensues, in less-than-fifty-foot doses.





Best lines of dialogue: “Once she’s in the booby hatch, throw the key away. That’ll put you in the driver’s seat.” (Yep, that’s three clichés in just two sentences.)


What gets attacked beyond repair: A car; a house; a hotel; a bar; a small-town hussy; a no-good lowdown two-timin’ bum; a devoted wife.


What gets saved: Unclear. Certainly not the idea of holy matrimony. (But as someone once said: “Marriage is an institution. And who wants to live in an institution?”)


Moral of the Story: Don’t believe a word he tells ya, darlin.


This reminds me of… …the 1993 HBO remake with starring Darryl Hannah, which was so-so at best, despite direction from Christopher Guest, star of This is Spinal Tap, which remains one of the funniest movies in the universe.


Did you know? Oddly compelling co-star Yvette Vickers (Honey) appeared nude in the July 1959 edition of Playboy magazine, lying on her stomach so as to maximize her considerable assets. Not that you’re going to Google her, or anything.


Did you notice? When Nancy grows to 50 feet, she still, um, seems to fit in her bed okay. And even if the bed is too small, she still fits in her room okay. A fifty-foot bedroom? That’s a big house.


Somehow their careers survived: Allison Hayes (Nancy) possessed considerable endowments—hey, I mean her acting ability—that failed to translate into mainstream success. She is still fondly remembered for this movie and others such as The Unearthly, The Undead, and Zombies of Mora Tau (all 1957). William Hudson (Harry) featured in The Amazing Colossal Man, The Man Who Turned to Ston and The She-Creature (all 1957), while Yvette Vickers (Honey) appeared in such fine product as Reform School Girl (1957) and Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959). Director Nathan Juran was also responsible for The Brain From Planet Arous, The Deadly Mantis, and 20 Million Miles to Earth (all 1957), as well as The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and The First Men in the Moon (1964). For this movie and Arous, though, he went by the phony name “Nathan Hertz.” I wonder why?




BOTTOM LINE: It’s a hoot, occasionally. Best seen with a group of like-minded individuals.


NEXT TIME: Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)


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