A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

The Magnetic Monster (1953)

AKA Crack of Doom

Rating: **** Threat: Orbital shift

United Artists. Written by Curt Siodmak & Ivan Tors; Photographed by Charles Van Enger; Special effects by Harry Redmond Jr. & Jack Glass; Edited by Herbert L. Strock; Music by Blaine Sanford; Produced by Ivan Tors & George Van Marter; Directed by Curt Siodmak. B & W, 76 minutes.


ANNOTATED CAST LIST

Richard Carlson (Jeff Stewart, research specialist at OSI); Jean Byron (Connie Stewart, his wife); King Donovan (Dan Forbes, OSI investigator); Harry Ellerbe (Dr. Allard, director of OSI); Leo Britt (Dr. Benton, developer of the Deltatron); Leonard Mudie (Howard Denker, scientist who creates the new element); Byron Foulger (Simon, hardware store owner); Michael Fox (Dr. Serny, state university scientist); Jarma Lewis (stewardess); John Zaremba (Watson, chief engineer of LA Power and Light); Frank Gerstle (Col. Willis, army liaison to OSI); John Vosper (Captain Dyer, Department of Civilian Defense official); William Benedict (Albert, hardware store employee); Elizabeth Root (Joy, hardware store employee); Kathleen Freeman (Nellie, OSI switchboard operator); Lee Phelps (city engineer); Roy Engle (general); Watson Downs (Los Angeles mayor); John Dodsworth (Cartwright, operator of the Deltatron); Charlie Williams (Cab driver); Michael Granger (Kenneth Smith, Los Angeles Airport manager); Douglas Evans (pilot); Strother Martin (co-pilot); Juney Ellis (hay fever sufferer on airplane).


SYNOPSIS

This intelligent entry was conceived by Curt Siodmak, screenwriter of numerous genre films such as I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) and brother of noted director Robert Siodmak. Both launched their film careers in their native Germany, and Curt decided to tailor his screenplay around a few minutes of remarkable footage from Gold (1933), a German feature with Hans Albers and Brigitte Helm. These scenes center on a huge, fantastic, electronic contraption that bombards base metal and turns it into gold. This machine crackles, shoots huge bolts of electricity and eventually explodes. The film also has a number of impressive crowd scenes of factory workers and a futuristic subway car. Together with the Hungarian writer and producer Ivan Tors (who later created Sea Hunt and Flipper), Siodmak expertly wove this impressive footage into a riveting climax for The Magnetic Monster. For the backstory, they conjured up the most imaginative “monster” ever developed, a new, unstable element that doubles in size every eleven hours and creates a pow-

-122-

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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Overview: Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse xi
  • A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema: Fifty Films in Depth 1
  • The 27th Day (1957) 3
  • Armageddon (1998) 10
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 17
  • Crack in the World (1965) 22
  • The Dawn of the Dead (1978) 27
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) 33
  • The Day the Sky Exploded (1958/61) 40
  • Day the World Ended (1956) 44
  • Deep Impact (1998) 48
  • Deluge (1933) 54
  • Doomsday Machine (1967/72) 59
  • Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 63
  • The End of the World (1930/34) 70
  • Five (1951) 74
  • Holocaust 2000 (1978) 78
  • The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) 83
  • Kronos (1957) 88
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) 93
  • The Last War (1961) 98
  • The Last Wave (1977) 103
  • The Last Woman on Earth (1960) 108
  • Lifeforce (1985) 112
  • The Lost Missile (1958) 117
  • The Magnetic Monster (1953) 122
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) 127
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) 133
  • Meteor (1979) 139
  • Moonraker (1979) 145
  • The Night the World Exploded (1957) 152
  • Noah's Ark (1929) 157
  • No Blade of Grass (1970) 162
  • No Survivors Please (1964) 168
  • One Night Stand (1984) 172
  • On the Beach (1959) 177
  • Quiet Earth (1985) 184
  • Robot Monster (1953) 189
  • Runestone (1991) 194
  • The Satan Bug (1965) 199
  • The Seventh Sign (1988) 205
  • Solar Crisis (1990) 210
  • Star Trek—the Motion Picture (1978) 214
  • Target Earth (1953) 221
  • Them! (1954) 226
  • Virus (1980) 231
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) 238
  • The War of the Worlds (1953) 243
  • When Worlds Collide (1951) 249
  • Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) 255
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) 259
  • Zarkorr the Invader (1996) 265
  • Appendices 269
  • Appendix A 271
  • Appendix B 279
  • Appendix C 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Author 311
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