Jack Arnold

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7.0 It Came from Outer Space (1953)
7.0 Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
7.0 The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
6.5 High School Confidential (1958)
6.5 The Mouse That Roared (1959)

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. Jack Arnold (USA, 1916) was a specialist of sci-fi movies, starting with St Came From The Outer Space (1951), adapted from Ray Bradbury's story "The Meteors". An amateur astronomer, John, is romancing his girl, Ellen, when a giant meteor crashes in the nearby desert. An amoebic creature emerges from the crash and disappears in the night. The astronomer, his girl and a friend rush to the site and find a giant crater, still smoking. John ventures inside the inferno and discovers a spherical spaceship. The giant eye of the jelly is staring at him. The door of the spaceship is closed and a rockfall bury the spaceship, while John narrowly escapes. The sheriff refuses to believe his story. On the way back home, John and Ellen see the giant eyeball staring at them. The story is derided by newspapers and radios. But the following day two telephone workers are ambushed by the giant eyeball. John and Ellen find their abandoned truck. They look for them, and find one, who talks like a zombie. John notices a lifeless body hidden behind a rock, and back rushes to town. As he leaves, the zombie-like telephone worker walks back and faces the two telephone workers, one of them his own double, who are coming back to life. The zombie tells them that he has the power to duplicate bodies, but also tells them they don't need to be afraid. When John and Ellen return with the sheriff, the truck is gone and all the evidence has disappeared. Back in town, John and Ellen see the two telephone workers walking on a sidewalk. John confronts them and they warn him to leave them alone, and promise they will soon leave. The eyeball makes more victims, and electrical equipment is stolen from the hardware store. John keeps investiganting and the aliens kidnap his girlfriend. John rushes to the crater, sees Ellen and follows her to the abandoned mine where the aliens are repairing their spaceship: a voice tells him that they only want time to repair their spaceship. He demands to see the face of the voice (god only knows why), and a horrible monster appears. Now the sheriff not only believes him but even wants to destroy them, and John has begs him in vain to leave them alone. As the sheriff launches his senseless attack against the spaceship, John enters the mine to free Ellen. The aliends, now led by a double of John himself, don't trust him anymore. They are aiming their laser weapon at the humans. John convinces them to release Ellen and all the other hostages that they have duplicated as a sign of good will, to avoid war. John blows up the entrance to the mine to keep the sheriff's men from entering it. The aliens have time to take off.

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) is another classic of the genre.

An explorer and his scouts in the Amazon Forest finds a giant fossil claw. A group of scientists, a young attractive woman, Kay, and her fiance' David examine the odd relic. They decide to set out on an exploration adventure, led by the brilliant David, but don't know that the creature got back alive and already killed one of the scientist's scouts. Kay is about to be grabbed by a claw emerging from the lagoon when David calls her into the tent. The captain of their boat tells them the legend of the monster of the black lagoon, the "Gillman". Instead of deterring them, it convinces them to head for the lagoon, particularly the ruthless and greedy Mark, who is also in love with Kay. As they dive into the lagoon, the creature (half man, half fish) spies on them, particularly on Kay swimming alone. She doesn't realize that the monster almost got her. The creature is betrayed by its curiosity and, after boarding the boat and attacking the crew, is eventually captured by the scientists/divers. Gillman escapes and keeps attacking the boat. Mark and David fight the creature sees them underwater, and Mark is killed. The creature then kidnaps Kay and takes her into his cave (a` la King Kong). David rescues her and the crew shoots the monster that swims away wounded. Revenge Of The Creature (1955)

Tarantula (1955) is a sci-fi movie in which a laboratory experiment gone awry creates a nuclear tarantula.

Man in the Shadow (1957) is a police thriller.

Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) e` il suo capolavoro. Maestro dell'orrore, Arnold porta al genere il frequente ricorso ai trucchi e l'uso del paesaggio minaccioso (deserti notturni, pianure, zone desolate, jungle) a fini di suspance.

Durante una vacanza in mare con sua moglie, Scott viene investito da una misteriosa nube. Mesi dopo si rende conto che il suo corpo sta rimpicciolendo. I dottori sono sbigottiti. La notizia si sparge in tutto il mondo e il disgraziato viene perseguitato da giornalisti e curiosi. Gli scienziati riescono ad arrestare il processo di rimpicciolimento, ma non a farlo ritornare alle dimensioni originali. Scott ha appena tempo di fare amicizia con una nana che il processo riprende. In breve l'uomo si riduce alle dimensioni di un topo. Vive in una casa-giocattolo in salotto, accudito in tutto dalla moglie. Un gatto che entra in casa quasi lo sbrana. Lui sfugge alla belva, ma cade in una scatola, la moglie non lo trova quando rientra e pensa che sia stato mangiato. La notizia viene data alla televisione. Intanto Scott si riprende, ormai minuscolo, e deve persino fronteggiare un ragno. Poi rischia di annegare quando una perdita cede del tutto e il pavimento viene allagato. Il disastro attira la moglie e un amico. Scott si dispera invano: non lo sentono. Continua a rimpicciolire e le speranze di essere mai salvato svaniscono. Rimane solo, a difendersi dalle mille insidie del suo nuovo habitat.

High School Confidential (1958) was a fresco of the subculture of the juvenile delinquents of the age of rock'n'roll. It's a fast-paced no-nonsense variation on the detective movie and the film noir, unfortunately ruined by the moralistic and didactic overtones and by the documentary-style sequences.

Jerry Lee Lewis' rock'n'roll band drive into town on a truck and then plays in front of a high school where kids start dancing. Tony is an arrogant new kid who asks a pretty girl to have sex with him. The girl, Joan, that looked more amused than intimidated, is rescued by a well-dressed and polite boy, that another kid describes as the "president" of the high-school gang. (The dialogue employs the slang of teenagers.) He lights a cigarette in front of the assistant who has to enroll him. He insults with vulgar language the pretty blonde teacher of English and is reported to the principal. Meanwhile a police officer is informing the teachers that marijuana is becoming a serious problem in the school.
Tony lives with an aunt who is a sensual and vulgar blonde. She wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him, but he coldly rejects her.
His attitude horrifies the staff, but has a mixed effect on the kids. In the cafeteria a brunette, Mary Jane, is pleased when he askes her out, despite her protestations that she has a boyfriend. The one who resents his language is Joan, who has her own problems (she is addicted and is too broke to buy more narcotics). Tony makes no mystery that he wants her and wants to replace her boyfriend as the president of the gang. Her boyfriend, fed up, corners him with three pals, but Tony pulls out a knife and threatens him. Later Tony notices that the blonde teacher is having car trouble and aggressively gives her a ride. The teacher is not intimidated by his innuendos.
Joan, who looked like such a traditional girl, begs her boyfriend to lend her money to buy narcotics. He's only interested in what he found out about Tony: that he's an orphan and lives with his aunt. Tony figured out that she's an addict and talks to her about drugs. At the swimming pool another girl, Doris, is in the same conditions and eventually breaks down: Joan sees that she has heroin scars in her arms and Tony remarks that she graduated (from marijuana to stronger drugs). Joan tells Tony who sells ("pushes") drugs: it's Mary Jane's boyfriend, who is also dating another girl. Tony buys some and asks to meet the big local pusher. The teacher approaches Tony when they are alone in class. She wants to help him. For a moment he hopes that she wants sex, but instead she only wants to know him better as a psychological case.
Tony and Joan, who are now dating, drive to the "races", where Tony is to meet the big pusher: it's Joan's boyfriend, who happily sells him a large quantity of marijuana, but states that he does not sell hard drugs. Tony asks him to let his supplier know that someone wants some of them. (Tony seems to have a lot of cash, but it is not clear where it's coming from). After the deal Tony takes part in the race. Four cars race maddenly around the block while dozens of kid cheer them. Joan is in Tony's car and, far from being scared, pressures Tony to drive faster, even stepping on Tony's shoe to accelerate. Tony has hidden the dope in the hubcap of a wheel, that has come loose due to the collisions with other cars. When the cops arrive and arrest everybody, the hubcap falls and the cops find the marijuana. Joan's father comes to rescue his daughter, yelling at the police for arresting an innocent girl.
The teacher is honestly concerned about him, but he is not interested in her help, only in getting into her bed. The teacher visits his aunt and tries get some help from her to reform the boy, but the aunt is on Tony's side. His aunt is even jealous that the teacher is so attractive. When Tony comes home and the teacher leaves, the aunt tries to seduce him again.
Tony and Joan are kissing at a club when her ex-boyfriend walks in. He's no longer antagonizing but befriending Tony. He takes him to the big pusher, "Mister A", a middle-aged business man who wears sunglasses. He has Doris, the heroin-addicted girl, confined in a room where she's twitching and moaning. The big pusher explains that they will give her drug when she accepts to become a prostitute. Tony has arrived to the top of the ladder. To prove his sincere, Mister A asks Tony to get a shot of heroin. Tony fakes it. Mister A believes him and... scorns him. Mister A never did drugs himself, and thinks that any junkie will end up like the girl in the next room. However, he accepts to sell Tony what he wants.
Tony drives to a meeting with a police detective: it turns out his real name is Mike, he was trained to speak the slang, and his mission was to find and frame Mister A.
Back home Tony finds Joan in his bed. She finds out that Tony has a tape recorder under his clothes and hears the recording of Mister A's voice. She begs Tony for drugs. The phone rings: Mister A has the drugs for him. Tony is about to frame him, but needs someone to watch over Joan. He calls the teacher, who is already in bed. She doesn't believe his story, thinking he just wants to sleep with her. Tony leaves the house as his aunt walks in drunk with a man. The teacher believed him and shows up to take care of a neurotic Joan. Joan's ex boyfriend shows up and Joan, desperate to get a joint, tells him that Tony is recording Mister A. Tony meets Mister A in the night club where Mister A plays the piano in a jazz band. The transaction takes place but just then Joan's ex boyfriend calls to warn of the betrayal. A shooting and a fight erupts in the club, with several of the kids taking Tony's side against the armed gangsters. Tony eventually knocks out Mister A.
The happy ending shows a rehabilitated Joan happily cruising in a car with the teacher, and Tony, and, in the back seat, Tony's aunt, now sober and well-behaved, with her legitimate husband, while the voice-over recites the lesson learned from the story.

The Mouse That Roared (1959), an adaptation of Leonard Wibberley's 1955 novel, is a satire of the Cold War and of the nuclear holocaust. Peter Sellers impersonated the duchess, the prime minister and the general.

A small duchy in the middle of nowhere, where all the powerful people are related to the founder (and they are all impersonated by the same actor, Peter Sellers), is ruined by the competition of California vineyards that came up with an imitation of the local wine. The kingdom never recognized the USA, and cannot therefore officially complain. The prime minister tells the parliament that their best option is to declare war on the USA and be defeated, so that they too will benefit from the massive aid that the USA usually showers on defeated nations. The general in charge of the invasion of the USA, Tully (again played by Peter Sellers), is a humble and awkward archer who is only familiar with his forest, but now has to assemble twenty men to form an army. The army takes a bus to France and then boards a ship bound for the USA. Tully gets seasick and almost drowns in a storm, but eventually they reach New York. That day the president of the USA has announced an air-raid drill to test a new superpowerl bomb and the whole of New York is hiding in underground shelters. Dressed like medieval knights and armed with bows and arrows, the tiny army lands unopposed in New York. They soon learn what is going on. Tully decides to storm the laboratory where the scientist has just finished building a prototype of the superpowerful bomb with help from his beautiful daughter Helen. The invaders kidnap scientist and cutie, despite the scientist's protestations that he first needs to dismantle the bomb, least it would go off accidentally and destroy the whole continent. In the meantime some people have spotted the bizarre invaders and have spread the rumour that the Martians have invaded the Earth. A general drives around trying to find out what caused the rumours but is captured by Tully's brave archers. Tully declares victory against the USA. Scientist, bomb, general and cutie are all taken back to the duchy on the same ship, while puzzled authorities in the USA try to make sense of the events. Eventually they find the declaration of war and understand that they have just been defeated by a tiny country.
Helen tries in vain to seduce Tully but Tully is seasick for the whole return journey. In the meantime, the tiny country is preparing a grand welcome for the USA troops that are supposed to invade them. Even the duchess in person is waving a USA flag. Instead Tully marches into the duchy leading his men and his hostages, and announces that they have won the war. The duchess and the prime minister are terrified by the news. The hostages are thrown into the dungeons where they find the mutilated corpses of victims of medieval torture. The whole world offers help to the duchy, all of them interested in getting the bomb. The prime minister is in favor of returning the bomb to the USA, but the duchess thinks she should hold on to it. Therefore the prime minister and the entire parliament resign. The duchess appoints Tully as the new prime minister. The old prime minister conspires to help Helen escape with the bomb.
The Soviet Union wants to talk to the duchess but the envoy is told to wait outside the border post. The USA decides to make peace but the envoy is also told to wait outside the border post.
The prime minister keeps his promise and gives the bomb to Helen and the general who are then escorted out of the duchy. Helen's father cannot be found. Helen is distraught because Tully has confessed his love for her, and she obviously reciprocates. Tully runs after the car and, after a grotesque chase, manages to catch the bomb just before it explodes (each of the dignitaries of the world powers throws it to the other to save his life). The duchess is ready to sign the peace treaty and Tully states the conditions: the California wine must be banned, the scientist has to remain and help the duchy develop a new kind of chewing gum, and the bomb must be entrusted to the small countries of the world, who are less interested than the world powers in a world war. Helen is ready to marry Tully. The scientist begs permission to be finally allowed to disble the dangerous bomb. He sneezes, the bomb falls to the floor and... nothing happens. It was a dud. Tully tells Helen and the scientist to keep the secret: only the three of them know that it's all a bluff.
No Name On The Bullet (1959)

Bachelor In Paradise (1961) is a rather lame farce.

Adam (Bob Hope) is a famous author who is in French to write his next bestseller. And to write he needs to do research... on French girls. His publisher calls him from the USA and tells him to get on the first jet because he (Adam) is in trouble with the government. When Adam arrives, he is presented with a huge bill of unpaid taxes because his tax accountant ran away with his money instead of paying them. It turns out that Adam has become famous writing books about the lifestyles of bachelors in several cities of the world for the a USA audience. Since he is forbidden to leave the country, the publisher suggests that he write a book on the lifestyle of a USA bachelor, and specifically about life in suburban California. When he lands in California (incognito), he is welcomed by a real-estate agent, the attractive Rosemary (Lana Turner). She represents a village that has been built to be an artificial paradise. The builder of the village, Tom, objects that it's a family community and a bachelor might mean trouble. She is single too, and, having had a bad experience, she intends to remain single, despite Tom's innuendos. Adam soon realizes that the village is in the hands of the women during the day because all the men are at work. He tries to befriend Rosemary but she avoids him. One day a good woman of the community is asking people to sign a petition to ban the scandalous books of the famous writer, and he's the first one to sign. One day he meets Dolores, the neglected wife of Tom, who is more than willing to help him around the house and flirt with him. After a while she tells him that she and Tom are divorcing, and that Tom is cheating on her with Rosemary. Meanwhile Tom notices that the women of the village are all dressed up during the day: it's the evil influence of the only man around. And when the men come home they find sexy wives who want romance: it's the result of free lessons taught by the bachelor to the housewives. One night Adam has a date at a restaurant with Tom's wife Dolores. While Dolores is in the restroom, Rosemary comes to warn him that Tom is looking for them, anxious to frame Dolores as an unfaithful wife so as to lower his liability in the divorce proceedings. Dolores returns to the table and catches them together. Furious, she leaves. The men of the village get fed up with their wives' odd behavior and sign a petition to have Adam expelled. Rosemary opposes the move and Tom fires her. Rosemary moves in with Adam as his personal secretary; and nothing more. The publisher calls him and asks him to fly urgently back: the police found his tax accountant with the money and his troubles are over. Now the publisher can't wait to announce his next book: the press conference is broadcast live on television, so the village finally learns of his real identity and purpose. When Adam returns to the village, he finds Rosemary in his bed and three women come to visit him in the middle of the night. The whole town eventually lays siege to his house and the four women are all exposed. Three husbands accuse him of seducing their wives. A trial is held. Adam takes the stand and claims that he wants to marry Rosemary. Rosemary testifies in his favor and accepts his proposal. The publisher is outraged: Adam's career as the most celebrated bachelor in the country is finished. A Global Affair (1964) was another Bob Hope farce.
(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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