“The Amazing Colossal Man” is an American science-fiction film, with a runtime of 80 minutes, first released on October 25th, 1957. It followed another size-focused production “The Incredible Shrinking Man” which was released in February of 1957, but it came before “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” which was released in May 1958.
This black-and-white classic stars Glenn Langan as Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning. The actor appeared in many other movies and TV shows, but is most widely known for playing Lt. Col. Manning. Although, he did appear in other entertaining films such as 1970’s “Chisum” alongside John Wayne, and Glenn had an uncredited role in 1971’s “The Andromeda Strain.”
(SIDE NOTE: The Amazing Colossal Man received a sequel called “War of the Colossal Beast” in 1958 with a different actor playing the lead role. In fact, the actor who played the one-eyed monster in “The Cyclops” also played the role of the disfigured Lt. Col. Manning in War of the Colossal Beast.)
Bert I. Gordon directed all three of these “giant man” flicks: The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, and War of the Colossal Beast. Bert was responsible for many “sizey” productions like “Attack of the Puppet People,” “The Food of the Gods,” and “Village of the Giants.” Of those, Village of the Giants has already been covered by There She Grows!
(NOTE: The Cyclops sadly belongs to the number of low-budget and forgettable films in which original Wolf Man star Lon Chaney Jr. appeared in during the tail end of his career. I quite enjoyed Lon Chaney Jr’s performance in 1941’s “The Wolf Man,” but he suffered from alcoholism and was difficult to worth with during the later part of his life. As for The Cyclops, the special effects were lackluster and the story was paper thin. The movie is not worth watching except by weirdos who write about size media 😎 Accordingly, my sincere thanks to Ms. Taedis for alerting me to The Cyclops!)
Of note, in ACM it was stated that Glenn Manning had no family, but that was contradicted in the sequel when Glenn’s heretofore never before mentioned sister was the lead. Again, thanks to Taedis for pointing out the continuity error!
My initial reason for reviewing The Amazing Colossal Man (ACM) was to determine why it’s relevance in pop culture has faded while Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (AOTFFW) still resonates. For example, the poster for AOTFFW popped up in the background of the music video for AJR’s 2013 song “I’m Ready.” Please note that the I’m Ready song had nothing to do with size. The AOTFFW poster was one of several old movie posters as well as the cover for Detective Comic issue 27, the first appearance of Batman. Presumably, this was an artistic choice to reference older properties, but why didn’t use the ACM poster?
In fact, AOTFFW has been copied or parodied by many publications, like “Mother Jones” for a 2010 magazine cover:
AOTFFW was remade for HBO in 1993 and I recommend that size fans check out the newer version instead of the 1950s original. (NOTE: Learn more about the HBO remake here.)
Furthermore, several erotic homages to AOTFFW have already been reviewed here at There She Grows. They include A. R. Tiste Production & Siren Thorn’s “Attack of the 50 Ft. Pussy!”, “Attack of the 50 Foot Hooker!”, Danni.com’s “Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman” starring Kelly Madison, Hustler’s “Attack of the 50-Foot Honey,” etc.
However, in contrast, The Amazing Colossal Man has not received a remake, and most size-fetish producers are apparently uninterested in an adult take on ACM. Although, Giantess Club did produce a two-issue comic series “Bride of the Colossal Beast” in the summer of 2014. I suggest size fans check it out as a risque version of The Amazing Colossal Man! Just understand that Bride of the Colossal Beast is very short and does not contain any sex scenes, but it does provide growth scenes featuring the giant man’s size-changing wife and many nude shots of her lovely figure. Although, there was no male nudity and no male growth scenes.
In contrast to AOTFFW, the only lasting contribution ACM has made to popular culture was taken from the scene in which an Army officer stabs the giant with an oversized hypodermic needle:
(SIDE NOTE: It’s also conceivable that this 1957 film inspired the creation in 1960 of DC Comics character “Colossal Boy,” a member of the “Legion of Super-Heroes.”)
So, what is the actual plot of The Amazing Colossal Man? Let’s look at that now, but be warned that there will be spoilers. The movie is 64-years old so discussing key plot points shouldn’t be a problem!
The action begins at a test site in Nevada where a new plutonium bomb will be detonated. Glenn runs out into harm’s way in order to rescue the pilot of a small civilian aircraft which had crashed near the bomb site. Of note, the pilot is never actually seen and was quickly dropped from the story. Also of interest, Glenn’s origin was presumably copied for Marvel Comics Incredible Hulk character. Within the pages of “The Incredible Hulk” Issue #1, published in 1962, scientist Bruce Banner ran onto the test site of a gamma bomb test to rescue teenager Rick Jones. (NOTE: I don’t think this origin story was used in any of the television or movie interpretations of the Incredible Hulk.) Bruce Banner’s exposure to a gamma bomb explosion while trying to save someone turned him into the Incredible Hulk in the same manner that Glenn Manning’s exposure to a plutonium bomb explosion while trying to save someone turned him into the Colossal Man.
(SIDE NOTE: In keeping with Glenn’s plutonium bomb origin, the title for the Japanese version is 戦慄!プルトニウム人間 or “Horrible! Plutonium human.”)
Initially, military doctors assume that Glenn will die from the intense radiation exposure. However, his burns heal at an incredible rate and he then begins to increase in size. Sadly though, it becomes clear that his growth is unsustainable as his heart is unable to keep pace with the rest of his body. His heart is growing, but not as rapidly as the rest of him. Thus, it’s only a matter of a few weeks before his life will come to an end.
That sad scenario lies at the heart of the problems with this film. ACM is a humor-less and unrelenting tragedy in which a man turns into a monster while constantly complaining and then he threatens his wife and is shot (and seemingly killed) after letting her go.
Glenn’s wife Carol was consistently supportive despite his repeated efforts to push her away. Glenn never thanked his wife for her support. She watched her husband transform against his will, rampage through the Las Vegas strip, and then die. Carol acted just like Louise Carey, wife to Scott Carey the Incredible Shrinking Man. Both wives tended to unappreciative husbands.
A counter-argument could be that this was meant to be a unflinchingly realistic portrayal. Anyone facing their end could be morose and sarcastic. I can’t argue with that. Nonetheless, while that may be true it doesn’t make for an entertaining watch. If you take away the size aspect then ACM could be summarized as “a man gets an incurable disease, whines about his fate, treats a loved one poorly, and then dies.”
We don’t even know if the sacrifice was worthwhile. Glenn exposed himself to the deadly explosion to save a pilot’s life. However, it appeared that his effort was futile. All indications were that the pilot was killed despite the effort made and therefore Glenn’s unselfish act was in vain. Contrasting the Colossal Man with the Hulk, unlike the ill-fated pilot, Rick Jones survived and was physically unharmed. (NOTE: Although, Rick Jones was burdened with guilt due to his inattentiveness leading to the incident which cursed Bruce Banner.)
AOTFFW stands apart from ACM because AOTFFW portrays a woman mistreated by a philandering husband who enacts revenge on the cheater. It showcases an exploited house wife given unparalleled power, as a result of growing really big, and taking revenge against the no-good layabout who mistreats her. I just wish that Nancy Archer, AOTFFW’s protagonist, had been given a happier ending!
I believe that Nancy’s empowered nature and sex appeal has given the film its longevity in popular culture and turned the giant woman into a feminist icon. At the very least, the AOTFFW poster lives on and has been copied many times, such as on the cover of the following book from author Catherine Mayer:
All that said, if size fans want to watch the tale of an exceedingly tall and depressed bald man wearing a diaper (a.k.a. gigantic baby throws tantrum in Vegas) then I recommend that they watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) version of “The Amazing Colossal Man.” As of this writing, it can be viewed for free on YouTube.
(SIDE NOTE: I also liked some of the riffs from MST3K’s “War of the Colossal Beast” including one in which a bus driver is trying to moving his vehicle. Ergo, he’s gotta “bus to move.” Get it? It sounds like Young MC’s song “Bust a Move.” Eh, I’m easily amused 😉 )
That’s it for today folks. Next week will kick off with a look at a comedic Hong Kong film which features a nice little breast expansion scene. Until then, keep growing!
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