This 75-minute long black and white film was released in 1959. While the movie itself is lighthearted in tone, the circumstances following its production were grim. Star Lou Costello died of a heart attack at the age of 52, shortly before this was released.
Costello was half of the famous duo Abbott and Costello. This film was actually the only movie featuring Lou Costello in a starring role that he made without his regular partner Bud Abbott. I was familiar with Abbott and Costello from their radio show “Who’s on First?” A teacher played that comedy routine for my class when I was an elementary school student
As a teenager, I knew of the original “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” which preceded this by a year, but I was not familiar with this movie. It wasn’t until the Internet’s introduction that I found a few short clips and learned of its existence.
Dorothy Provine played Emmy Lou Raven, the female lead and girlfriend of Costello’s character, Artie Pinsetter. She was almost 30 years younger than Costello! Provine was born in 1935 and Costello was born in 1906.
The movie’s opening credits feature an unappealing illustrated depiction of our two leads. I guess it was intended to be humorous, but I can’t say that it succeeded.
Our story begins with Artie, a garbage collector and amateur scientist. While going about his day he encounters Raven Rossiter, the town banker who happens to be the uncle to Artie’s girlfriend, the aforementioned Emmy Lou Raven. Side note: It was a weird choice to make Emmy Lou’s family name the same as her uncle’s first name.
Gale Gordon plays the part of Raven Rossiter, a coldhearted businessman. Gordon is perhaps best known for his appearances on TV, such as on The Lucy Show, alongside Lucille Ball. Rossiter is running for governor and being interviewed by a TV crew throughout the film.
Artie and Emmy Lou travel to Dinosaur Springs, a nearby canyon, so Artie can conduct an undefined experiment. Emmy Lou begs Artie to marry her, but he wants to wait until he’s more successful. His intelligent, and vocal, mechanical computer called Max is against the marriage. Side note: It’s difficult to believe that Artie is not successful when Max in the 1950s is not only better at voice recognition than Alexa or Siri today, but is also capable of time travel and other miraculous tasks required to advance the plot.
Emmy Lou runs away after Max expresses the opinion that Artie should focus on work and not marry. She travels into a cave filled with a strange gas. That gas is the catalyst for this story’s plot, but it’s never explained or even investigated.
We don’t see anything, but we hear the sounds of cloth tearing as Emmy Lou calls for help and states that something awful is happening.
Then the beautiful blonde appears in her transformed, giant-sized state. I do like the dialogue at this point. Emmy Lou wants clothes and says she’s hideous, to which Artie replies “You’re magnificent! And all mine!” 🙂
Emmy Lou demands that Artie bring her some clothing, so he travels back to town to get help.
Confusion ensues when Artie tells Rossiter that Emmy Lou is “big.” Rossiter assumes that Emmy Lou is pregnant (although that actual word is never used) and demands that Artie and Emmy Lou immediately marry to prevent scandal from affecting Rossiter’s gubernatorial campaign. He orders an elderly fellow, Magruder, to marry the two. The old man conveniently lost his glasses and doesn’t realize that Emmy Lou is taller than most brides. Magruder asks for a kiss from Emmy Lou after concluding the private ceremony.
Magruder realizes that she’s enormous once Emmy Lou gets close enough for his poor eyesight. He flees in fear. Afterward, Artie and Emmy Lou fall asleep outside, no consummating the marriage for this couple. 😥
Emmy Lou tries to cook breakfast the next morning for her new husband. She is frustratingly unsuccessful, and is quite hungry herself. Artie convinces Rossiter of the need to feed his gigantic niece, so a convoy carrying food sets off for her location.
Meanwhile, Emmy Lou is spotted by soldiers conducting war games which causes a pile up when the lead driver slams on the brakes. I appreciated that their uniforms appeared accurate. Often filmmakers seem unable or unwilling to replicate simple details like service tape, officers rank insignia, enlisted chevrons, etc.
A semi-truck with a flatbed trailer carries Emmy Lou to the barn which will serve as her makeshift home.
An Army Lieutenant General at the Pentagon receives a report of the giant woman and states that they “can’t rule out an invasion from space.” He’s fairly trusting of his men in the field. I would have thought that his first assumption would be that those guys were crazy, but then I’m not a general. 😉
The military begins a search for a “monster in human form” with orders to attack on sight. Meanwhile, the town floozie flirts with Artie, angering his giant wife.
There’s a fun bit in which Artie has to drive his automobile in forward and reverse to speak to his oversized spouse when she paces back and forth. Then the angry giantess goes into town. She appears before a crowd of amazed townsfolk and removes the lid of a water tower to splash people. Emmy Lou then throws the top of the water tower through the air, which soldiers on patrol mistake for a flying saucer. 😉
Running to find her aunt, she is confronted by her uncle and in response she uproots his favorite trees.
Next, things get crazy during the denouement! First, Max attempts to protect his creator by sending Artie and the soldiers into the past (kinda). Then Max makes Artie take off like a rocket, collide with Sputnik, inadvertently take feather headdresses from Native Americans, and fly through a flock of birds. Max is finally able to shrink Emmy Lou, but Max overdoes it and shrinks her out of sight. The Pentagon seizes Artie’s invention Max, and the TV reporter states that he wants to do a special on Artie. Emmy Lou grows back to her normal size and the film ends.
Overall, this was a flawed comedy with few laughs. Costello’s performance was flat and lacked energy. Reportedly, he was depressed and nervous throughout the production due to financial troubles and his unfamiliarity with working without a partner. That’s according to Bill Warren’s book “Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties.”
Dorothy Provine was very attractive, but her dialogue mostly consisted of complaining. Growth took place off camera, and interaction between the giantess and normal people was minimal.
The results of a poll held on the Giantess City forum are perhaps indicative of this film’s quality. Readers voted for their favorite movie featuring a giantess or shrunken man. Choices included this film, both versions of “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” “Boccaccio 70,” “Village of the Giants,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” and “Other.” Out of the 42 votes cast, this film received none!
The winner of that poll was the 1993 remake of “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” starring Daryl Hannah. Personally, I agree that the Daryl Hannah film is a great movie. I plan to also review it.
Bottom line, if you’re a fan of giantesses and only have $20 then I recommend picking up a copy of 1993’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. However, if you’ve already seen that, and are looking for a deeper dive into the realm of giant women in mainstream films, then check out “The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock.” It is available for viewing on Amazon Prime, and also for purchase on DVD and VHS.
P.S. Scenes from this movie were used in Neil Finn’s “She Will Have Her Way” music video, released in 1998.
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