GORGO (1961)

Notes: KingBros. Production / MGM. Filmed in England. 79 minutes.
Joe Ryan: Bill Travers
Sam Slade: William Sylvester
Sean: Vincent Winter
McCartin: Christopher Rhodes
Professor Hendricks: Joseph O’Conor [not O’Connoras on the video box]
Professor Flaherty: Bruce Seton [not Seatonas according to the Magill Movie Guide]
Dorkin: Martin Benson
Radio Reporter: Maurice Kauffman
Admiral: Basil Digman
Mate: Barry Keegan
First Naval Officer: Thomas Duggan
First Colonel: Howard Lang
Bosun: Dervis Ward [not Word as according tothe Magill Movie Guide]

Directed: Eugene Lourie (cf. The Giant Behemoth and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms)
Produced: Wilfred Eades
Executive Producers: Frank King and MauriceKing
Screenplay: John Loring and Daniel Hyatt
Special Effects: Tom Howard (two-time AcademyAward winner in this field)
Cinematography: F.A. Young
Music: Angelo Lavagnino

Summary: A pink sky and general atmospheric weirdness interrupt Joe andSam’s diving for sunken treasure in the Irish Sea. A suboceanicvolcano surfaces and blows, rupturing the plates of their freighterand forcing them to dock for repairs at Nara Island. Strangedead creatures float by, signifying that “The whole oceanbottom must have been torn up.”

The locals are unfriendly, but a kid namedSean at the home of the harbormaster shows Joe and Sam some ofthe treasures recovered from the sea. The harbormaster McCartinreturns and is uncourteous. “Well, somethin’s eatin’ him!” Joe and Sam decide to snoop.

Locals worry that two divers have not comeup. One finally does and our doofs find some coins in his handas he dies, we decide, “of fright.” The other divernever reappears. Joe and Sam dive and see something, they’renot sure what. At night, a Godzilla-like monster with red eyes,big goofy claws, and flappy ears, obviously unleashed by the recentvolcano, emerges from the water. The locals throw spears andtorches, often into the creature’s mouth, and eventually driveit back into the sea.

Joe and Sam greedily see an opportunity, browbeatthe harbormaster into agreeing to fork over some loot in exchangefor them eliminating the “beast” so that the communitycan get back to plundering the sunken treasures. Initially theywonder how to kill the creature, but soon “stop to thinkwhat what a thing like that might be worth alive.” Joe submergesin a diving bell, the creature attacks, and they succeed in nettingit.

The British news broadcasts initially suggestan “elaborate Irish hoax,” but after some dire warningsfrom a couple Dublin professors about hydrating the creature,Joe and Sam decide to sell it to Dorkin’s Circus in London andthe animal is tranked and transported, with a stowaway Sean whotries to release the animal, through the streets of London andput on display in a pit. Dorkin (honestly; that’s his name) answersthe reference to “Gorgo as he’s called–we don’t know why,”with mention of the Greek Gorgons, and bills the 65-foot creatureas “the eighth wonder of the world” (tres Kong!) and”heavier than six elephants”–all for five shillings. The carnival is very crass, but Sean is in touch and compassionate. When some reporters hop the barricades to flash some photos (tresKong!), Gorgo breaks free and is subdued after knocking abouta few cars and people with flamethrowers.

Sam is having doubts now, so he drinks a lot. The man killed by the Gorgo’s tail-swipe, after all, had “awife and two kids,” and so therefore his life is more valuablethan those of us non-breeders. Joe is still consistently a stubbornsleaze. Those two professors we thought we left behind now holda meeting and announce their theory that Gorgo is an infant andthe adult would be “at least 200 feet tall.” Lo, anadult monster comes ashore at Nara Island and crushes most ofthe town, including the harbormaster, and then proceeds to destroya ship that was innocently trying to blow it up. The adult followsthe phospherous trail left oceanically by the hydration of theinfant.

The British Navy likes its binoculars and wesee lots of footage of military crap trying to blow up the dinosaur. But it comes ashore despite flaming waters and more arsenal,destroys Tower Bridge (quel The Lost World 1925!), BigBen, and city blocks. This is a long sequence with quite a bitof repeated footage, but pretty good chaos and destruction, evento a “tube”! A news reporter insists, “There’sbeen nothing like it, not even the worst of the blitz!” The creature (called “she”) roams Piccadilly Circuswhile one of those London “Repent–the end is near”people gets trampled by the crowd.

All electricity is directed toward one lastbarrier, 4 million volts, but “man’s puny efforts” don’twork here either. The adult creature reunites with the infant”Gorgo” and off they waddle into the sea. Sean is inecstasy, and the reporter waxes philosophical, telling us allwhat the incident has vaguely moralized, “leaving man toponder the proud boast that he alone is Lord of all Creation.”

Commentary: One unidentified woman in shades has one line; otherwise thisis a relentlessly male film. Despite the video box summary announcingthat “Papa Gorgo comes thundering ashore,” the filmrefers to the adult as “she”; so the one significantfemale in the film is a destructive menace. And none of the militarymetal phalluses work against her successfully.

We are subjected to endless footage of machomilitary posturing, equally balanced between dutiful, dull firingsof weapons and idiots looking through binoculars. We see thatthe British military is as stupid and boring as the American,but theirs is at least offset by a certain silliness.

The “Gorgo,” as the video box declares,”is quite ferocious–except when he wiggles his ears.” Actually, the thing lumbers, and generally moves and holds itsarms in a manner strikingly reminiscent of Sammy Davis Jr.