Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dr. Cyclops (1940)

Starring Albert Dekker, Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton, Victor Kilian
Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack
(actor & director credits courtesy

A trio of scientists travel to South America to assist a reputed biologist, but when they discover the secrets behind his research, he shrinks them to a tiny size and they try to escape. 

This is a very entertaining sci-fi adventure with terrific special effects, directed by Schoedsack who worked on the original King Kong.  Although some of the same types of effects in Kong are used in this film, like rear projection and giant mockups of Dekker's hands for grasping his tiny victims, the film's master stroke is the detailed recreations of objects in Dekker's lair in giant size for the "shrunken" actors to climb and interact with.  The work put into building these objects and the sets built to mimic the doctor's lab and the outdoor lagoon shore is absolutely superb.  Yet Schoedsack and his additional crew should be given even more credit for creating a thrilling film utilizing these backdrops.  In particular, I love the music score by Gerard Carbonara, Albert Hay Malotte, and Ernst Toch.  In his book Classics Of The Horror Film, historian William K. Everson compares their work to a Disney music score, and it's an apt comparison, with beautiful lyrical themes for the scientist's journey and the jungle locale, as well as an energetic passage with dark notes whenever Dekker is on the attack.

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