Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English


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 Seaton as 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 Maurice King
Screenplay: John Loring and Daniel Hyatt
Special Effects: Tom Howard (two-time Academy Award winner in this field)
Cinematography: F.A. Young
Music: Angelo Lavagnino

This film was used for Mystery Science Theater 3000, Episode 909.

Summary: A pink sky and general atmospheric weirdness interrupt Joe and Sam’s diving for sunken treasure in the Irish Sea. A suboceanic volcano surfaces and blows, rupturing the plates of their freighter and forcing them to dock for repairs at Nara Island. Strange dead creatures float by, signifying that “The whole ocean bottom must have been torn up.”

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

Locals worry that two divers have not come up. One finally does and our doofs find some coins in his hand as he dies, we decide, “of fright.” The other diver never reappears. Joe and Sam dive and see something, they’re not sure what. At night, a Godzilla-like monster with red eyes,big goofy claws, and flappy ears, obviously unleashed by the recent volcano, emerges from the water. The locals throw spears and torches, often into the creature’s mouth, and eventually drive it back into the sea.

Joe and Sam greedily see an opportunity, browbeat the harbormaster into agreeing to fork over some loot in exchange for them eliminating the “beast” so that the community can get back to plundering the sunken treasures. Initially they wonder how to kill the creature, but soon “stop to think what what a thing like that might be worth alive.” Joe submerges in a diving bell, the creature attacks, and they succeed in netting it.

The British news broadcasts initially suggest an “elaborate Irish hoax,” but after some dire warnings from a couple Dublin professors about hydrating the creature,Joe and Sam decide to sell it to Dorkin’s Circus in London and the animal is tranked and transported, with a stowaway Sean who tries to release the animal, through the streets of London and put on display in a pit. Dorkin (honestly; that’s his name) answers the reference to “Gorgo as he’s called–we don’t know why,”with mention of the Greek Gorgons, and bills the 65-foot creature as “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 (tres Kong!), Gorgo breaks free and is subdued after knocking about a 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 “a wife and two kids,” and so therefore his life is more valuable than those of us non-breeders. Joe is still consistently a stubborn sleaze. Those two professors we thought we left behind now hold a meeting and announce their theory that Gorgo is an infant and the adult would be “at least 200 feet tall.” Lo, an adult monster comes ashore at Nara Island and crushes most of the town, including the harbormaster, and then proceeds to destroy a ship that was innocently trying to blow it up. The adult follows the phospherous trail left oceanically by the hydration of the infant.

The British Navy likes its binoculars and we see 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!), Big Ben, and city blocks. This is a long sequence with quite a bit of repeated footage, but pretty good chaos and destruction, even to a “tube”! A news reporter insists, “There’s been nothing like it, not even the worst of the blitz!” The creature (called “she”) roams Piccadilly Circus while one of those London “Repent–the end is near”people gets trampled by the crowd.

All electricity is directed toward one last barrier, 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 in ecstasy, and the reporter waxes philosophical, telling us all what the incident has vaguely moralized, “leaving man to ponder the proud boast that he alone is Lord of all Creation.”

Commentary: One unidentified woman in shades has one line; otherwise this is a relentlessly male film. Despite the video box summary announcing that “Papa Gorgo comes thundering ashore,” the film refers to the adult as “she”; so the one significant female in the film is a destructive menace. And none of the military metal phalluses work against her successfully.

We are subjected to endless footage of macho military posturing, equally balanced between dutiful, dull firings of weapons and idiots looking through binoculars. We see that the 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 its arms in a manner strikingly reminiscent of Sammy Davis Jr.