Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Video: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956)

Godzilla marks his 60th anniversary this year, but it took two before his 1st film reached American shores, re-edited and dubbed into English, with additional footage added.

We all know the story. Godzilla, or Gojira in Japanese, rises from the depths of the ocean, and starts by destroying ocean liners, killing innocents. Inevitably, Godzilla reaches land, and not even electrical power lines can stop it. For American audiences, the additional material involves a United World News reporter, Steve Martin (Raymond Burr), who serves as the narrator. Martin was en route to Cairo on assignment when he stopped in Tokyo to visit a friend, and ran into the story of a lifetime.

Here's the trailer:




It was one year before Burr achieved iconic status as Perry Mason, but before "Godzilla", he was already an accomplished radio & film star. When Toho, the Japanese studio behind "Godzilla", decided to remake the original classic in the 80's, Burr was called back to reprise as Martin, and it would be the final time he'd be associated with the franchise.

I think you can understand how the current version has much to live up to.

Rating: A-.

2 comments:

magicdog said...

Always loved a bit of Godzilla as a kid!

I saw several of the films - even though seeing the English dubbing over the original Japanese actors was annoying.

I was really confused when the Godzilla cartoon (from HB) premiered, since Godzilla could be controlled and followed the human protagonists no matter where they went! I had seen the 90s reboot of Godzilla but it still wasn't enjoyable to me - maybe because the monster looked so unlike the original!

hobbyfan said...

That was exactly the problem with Roland Emmerich's vision in 1998. He got Godzilla wrong. Period. The subsequent cartoon didn't help.

The 1978 cartoon recast Godzilla as a superhero, but by then Toho had already done that in a number of sequels. I've seen some of the same films you have, as they aired on WOR for several years around Thanksgiving.