Tag Archives: Eugene Lourie

CLASSIC MOVIE POSTERS – Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Classic Movie Poster Gallery

Beast from 20000 Fathoms One Sheet Movie PosterBeast from 20,000 Fathoms (Warner Brothers, 1953) 27″ x 41″ Style A One-Sheet

With Jurrasic World stomping through the box office,  I thought it would be fun to look back at classic movie posters of a film genre that is so near-and-dear to my heart, dinosaur movies.  Also, “lost worlds” and “giant atomic beasts.”  I love them all!

While not the first dinosaur/lost world film by a long shot, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is the first in a long-line of movies in the “Giant Atomic Beast” genre, pre-dating even the venerable Godzilla by one year.  The importance of the film isn’t limited to simply being first.  This movie was also the first solo project for our beloved Ray Harryhausen and the only time in cinematic history that Harryhausen and his lifelong friend, Ray Bradbury, appeared in the film credits together.  The movie was loosely based on a short story Bradbury published in the Saturday Evening Post.

The one-sheet poster for this movie is simply great, including  no less than 5 tag lines:

The Seas’ Master Beast of the Ages – Raging Up From the Bottom of Time!

They Couldn’t Believe Their Eyes! They Couldn’t Escape the Terror! And Neither Will YOU! 

You’ll See It Tear a City Apart!

CASTS OF THOUSANDS! Over a Year in the Making!

Synopsis

A group of scientists and military men are in the remote far reaches of the Arctic Circle, testing a nuclear device. The detonation sets free a prehistoric “Rhedosaurus”, a giant carnivorous dinosaur that walks on four legs.  The Beast makes its way south toward old nesting grounds, sinking a ship along the way.  The Beast destroys a lighthouse along his route and eventually comes ashore in New York City, wreaking havoc. As if his ferocity and size were not enough of a menace, it is discovered that when wounded, the Beast drips blood that contains deadly amounts of radioactive bacteria. The military decides that the Beast will have to be taken out by a grenade rifle armed with a radioactive isotope leading to a final showdown in an unlikely setting – a closed amusement park.

Enjoy the movie trailer:

Poster Value:

This poster simply doesn’t show up at auction very often.  Heritage Auctions sold one way back in 2008 for $1,553.  There is one current eBay listing for a nice copy of the poster for $1,450.

Summary

This movie is simply great and it’s importance can’t be understated to fans of genre movies.  Not only did this film give Harryhausen is break-out opportunity, the film’s director, Eugene Lourie went on to become specialize in the genre of giant atomic beast invasion films.  In 1959 he directed The Giant Behemoth, which featured stop-motion effects by Willis O’Brien and his assistant Pete Peterson, using many of the same low-budget methods that Harryhausen had pioneered. This was followed in short order by Gorgo (1961), which Lourie directed in England, this time featuring a man-in-a-suit monster.

The commercial success of Beast from 20,000 Fathoms led other Hollywood studios to jump on the bandwagon.  The following is from Turner Classic Movies tribute to Ray Harryhausen:

Meanwhile, the influence of Harryhausen’s first solo creation was being felt around the world. In Japan, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka of Toho Studios read a synopsis of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in a trade magazine, and it inspired him to create a homegrown monster-on-the-loose. The first script for what would become Gojira (1954) even included an attack on a lighthouse. Gojira was a fearsome scaly-spined dinosaur brought to life as a man-in-a-suit by effects expert and longtime Kong fan Eiji Tsuburaya. (The edited film received added footage featuring Raymond Burr and a new title for its American release as Godzilla, King of the Monsters in 1956).

Warner Bros. also took note of the success of Beast and immediately put into production Them! (1954), which would feature an invasion of giant ants and a copycat release pattern of saturation bookings and a massive advertising campaign. Other studios would launch their own giant insect films as a result. So two entire movie sub-genres, the Japanese daikaiju (giant monster) film, and the American “Big Bug” movie, can be traced back to the twin successes of the 1952 reissue of King Kong and its Atomic-Age imitator, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

And on top of all that, the movie poster is simply awesome,