CMBA Fabulous Films of the 50s Blogathon: Sisterhood of the Fifty-Foot Pants

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I’m not writing a post on 1958’s Attack of the 50-Foot Woman to make fun of the film. You can find that stuff anywhere. Oh, I’m not denying that this movie’s dumb, campy fun; or that its special effects, like that giant papier-mâché hand (hoisted up by chains and pulleys), are ludicrous; or that the sight of a fifty-foot dame trampling the scenery while bellowing “Harry!” loud enough to shake the birds out of the trees doesn’t send me rolling out of my own treehouse. Of course it does.

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But there’s one moment that sticks in my craw when I watch. It’s a brief, devastating close-up of Allison Hayes’ Nancy Archer, who, when needled and mocked by her uncaring shit of a husband because she’s claimed she’s seen an extraterrestrial, sobs out an agonized apology—“I’m sorry, Harry, I’m sorry,” she wails, and you know those words are burning up her throat like acid. Amidst all the low-budget hoots, something real comes out of Hayes’ emoting there. I find that scene inexpressibly painful. Considering just how many people do believe in aliens, why should her claim be laughable? Just how fucking crazy is Nancy? Throughout the film she’s put down, sneered at, shamed, and stripped of dignity. Even a local TV news broadcaster makes fun of her. And now she’s humiliated into an apology for something she knows is true (and we in the viewing audience know also), in a film that plays her for laughs. Can you blame her for finally going on the rampage?

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Hayes isn’t just picking up a paycheck in this film; she works at creating Nancy, at showing us this woman’s inner life. There’s a bit when Nancy tells her spouse why, after dumping him, she took him back. “Because I love you, Harry,” she says, and Hayes reads that line with the kind of flat cynicism you might hear from Sam Spade. I like that she does that. She doesn’t go for sentiment or pity or wounded nobility. Her eyes even go a bit dead on the line; her Nancy is aware that Harry’s a louse, and that she’s a fool for loving him. But Harry’s all she’s got. Here’s a wealthy woman with fifty million smackers, enough dough to fill several of her fifty-foot bras to the bursting point. But fifty mil gets you nothing but parasites. No one’s ever loved this woman for herself; she’s nothing but a fifty-foot dollar sign. So she tries to hold on to Harry because she wants something “all for myself.” Don’t we all? Nancy’s got everything in the world and it amounts to a hill of beans. If you take Nancy out of this dumb movie and plop her down in your real-life living room, with her real-life feelings, would she be that comic to you?

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I’ll let you in on a secret as to why I watch schlock movies like Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, and why I write about them on my blog. Well, yeah, I enjoy them (I’m low-brow enough to come clean on that). But it’s also because of what they tell us about ourselves. Serious Art aspires to transcendence; Dumb Entertainment gets low-down and silly but, in the process, shows us the forest primeval. It’s all the primitive emotions we don’t want to admit to having. Beneath the schlock and the campy flash and the low-budget effects is a no-holds-barred look at human behavior. It’s not behavior the standard-bearers would approve of, but it’s what we recognize as happening on the inside, down deep in a molten, messy core of feeling, which can only be expressed at the furthermost edge of being. Where things tend to get pretty monstrous.

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Note the bow in the back. Nice touch.

I’m not claiming hidden-art status here. Fifties schlock-fests are metaphors gone mad, outrageous and unbelievable. The movies are so far out, we can absorb, control, get a grip on, and keep our distance from their issues—although they stick in our mind. They make us laugh, but they also make us scream. In films like The Hideous Sun Demon, The Alligator People, The Amazing Colossal Man, The Incredible Shrinking Man, I Was A Teenage Werewolf/Frankenstein/From Outer Space, characters turn into alligators, wolves, or deformed eyesores, shoot up a gazillion feet or dwindle down to a molecule, or morph into trouser-wearing lizards whenever the sun shines. But under all the godawful make-up and wacky plot lines is always the question: “Is this me?” Are we, somehow, really these monsters? The Monster is the Other, the ultimate outsider, but he (or she, as the case here) usually starts out as one of Us. And the Monster, I contend, is Us as we feel in our guts—the outsiders, the freaks, the Others no one wants to deal with. That’s not a radical notion, but I think it’s one we have to be reminded of. There’s a reason why schlock is so popular; it shows us our own basic, muddled, chaotic selves, which we’re trying so hard to keep a leash on.

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And what horrible, sloppy, confused feelings are at the boiling core of the Fifty-Foot Woman? She feels rage—something females are not allowed to express. When Nancy goes off the beam, she isn’t being assertive or powerful, like a man. She’s told she’s nuts. She’s given pills, poppers, sedatives, all to calm her down. When she isn’t swallowing pills, she’s guzzling booze; when she’s not boozing, she’s threatened with the booby hatch. At the heart of Nancy’s rage is her marriage, the solid civilizational base that 1950s American women were meant to aspire to. Underlining so many 1950s sci-fi/horror films are the miseries of marriage (check out my posts on Donovan’s Brain, The Alligator People, and The Leech Woman, for starters). It seems a subject that the Fifties could only approach as either being out of this world or produced in a mad scientist’s lab. The advantage of slipping such subject matter into a low-budget horror film is that filmmakers didn’t have to twist the material into an unconvincing happy ending for mass consumption, nor uphold it as a benign institution as a sop to Breen office policies. No, you could show the whole wretched thing falling apart, with no hope of putting it back together, as so frequently happens in real life. And you could always blame it on the Monster.

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And Nancy’s rage is monstrous. Her gigantism, due to a huge alien’s curiosity (and her gallant hubby leaving her to said alien’s dubious mercies), brings out all the stop-gap measures. A couple of elderly shrinks show up, and diagnose her problem as “when women reach the age of maturity, Mother Nature sometimes overworks their frustration to the point of irrationalism.” Ah, yes, Mature Woman Syndrome. Ya can’t let these irrational mature women loose, can you? So Nancy must be subdued, contained, drugged, prescribed anger management. Out come the “gate hooks, four lengths of chain, forty gallons of plasma, an elephant syringe,” courtesy of Acme Medical Supplies (I have this mind-boggling notion of Wile E. Coyote serving as consultant here). She’s shot up, sedated, dosed with morphine, and literally put in chains, treated like a mad, bad thing right in her own house—the House, that overriding symbol of 1950s happy-housewifedom, where the little woman stays put with the kids, the meals, and the new leisure-making appliances. It was the place where real 1950s women did drink or take pills or go quietly mad, only there usually wasn’t a man from outer space around to absorb the shock.

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Lifting that bale.

I think one interpretation of Mature Woman Syndrome is that Nancy likes sex, only hubby Harry (William Hudson) is not around enough to please her. Nancy has an old-fashioned idea of monogamy, and that may be the source of her “overworked frustration.” An unusual feature of this film is its portrayal of women’s sexuality. It shows women enjoying sex, and enjoying expressing that enjoyment. As Harry undresses her, removing her garments piece by piece, Nancy responds viscerally—she relaxes, closes her eyes, nuzzles him, her face blissful. Maybe that’s why she sticks with the bum, he makes her feel good.

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Hayes herself is a tall, busty, handsome woman, who moves her body like one who knows it’s a beautiful body and is not ashamed to flaunt it. When she walks, she throws her shoulders back like Hercules about to take on the Spartans. And when she grows to fifty feet, she moves, not like a Sherman tank, but like a weightless dream. Ok, I’ll grant you, that’s bad FX. Where’s the rampage, you might wonder? Shouldn’t she be stompin’ like Godzilla on Tokyo? But how fearsome should a female body be? Writ large, the Fifty-Foot Female is a giant Ondine; she seems to stride bonelessly, as if under water; she becomes elemental, part of a soft, lush nature, in contrast the dry desert landscape she crosses. Oddly, by busting out, she becomes idyllically feminine, as if finally realizing herself.

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Though when it comes to sexual expression here, no one outdoes Yvette Vickers, who plays the town floozy. (I just want you all to pause here a sec and contemplate how this film gives you two, yes, two gorgeous B-Movie Divas in one package. Talk about a bang for your buck.) Yvette’s character is Archetypal Tramp. She travels between a divey bar and a divey hotel room, both spaces reeking of gin, smoke, and linoleum floors. She wears tight clothes and shimmys her torso like a desert mirage, and she is a GODDESS. Nobody, but N*O*B*O*D*Y, was hotter than Yvette Vickers. She moves in this film like no other actress in the Fifties. I don’t think any actress still comes close. She dances, slides, slithers, shakes, tosses her hair, rubs her skin, wiggles her ass like a maracas, and gives off heat like a sauna. She could melt formica. Her body always look soft and moist; she probably leaves a damp imprint on fabric wherever she sits. This is not June Cleaver. Yvette’s Honey (oh, what a name!) is a kind of 1950s dark wet dream, the anarchic underside to the decade’s emphasis on restoring sexual-familial-societal order after a devastating depression and a horrific world war. In hindsight, you could say Honey anticipates the 1960s: free love, sex-drugs-rock’n’roll, and the Sexual Revolution in one wriggly little bundle.

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But Attack of the 50-Foot Woman is still essentially Fifties. There’s the fascination with satellites, spaceships, and what might come from Out There (the film was released a year after Sputnik); the cold-war fears of nuclear fallout (Nancy’s body, when recovered from the alien, shows radiation traces); the appeal to civil/governmental power when crisis looms (“We’ll have to notify the authorities!” shrieks a shrink when Nancy starts throwing her weight around); and the growing dominance of television (the film opens with a TV news broadcast on the sightings of a mysterious flying object; Nancy later hurls a drink at the TV when the same newsman mocks her in a report).

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Also very Fifties: the Op-Art design on the pants.

There are also the undertones, the darkness, the threats of chaos toppling a precariously held stability, which rumbled through so much of 1950s cinema. It wasn’t all sunshine and Doris Day (and even Day made dark movies). The director, Nathan Juran (who billed himself as Nathan Hertz because he didn’t want to be associated with such a cheap film), includes noirish shots redolent of a menace seething just beneath the celluloid. And one sequence in the alien spaceship is unsettlingly grotesque. The now-no-longer-disbelieving sheriff (George Douglas) discovers on the ship a set of glass globes holding diamond crystals; Juran, a former art director (Oscar for How Green Was My Valley), films the actor’s face distorted through a globe like an acromegalic mask. Maybe the monsters aren’t always the aliens.

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And there’s the monstrous, dark desire of poor, frustrated Nancy, trapped in her suburban paradise and drinking herself into a stupor while her cheatin’ hubby frisks about town with trampy Yvette Vickers (didn’t anyone think of chaining him up?). You can read her sudden growth spurt as an elaborate revenge fantasy, or you can read it as a metaphor for what utter, in-the-bone misery can do to you: it makes you feel like a grotesque, like a freak, and like a Monster; who, when the well-behaved types, the ones with the pills and the psychiatric mantras, won’t listen, has to hit the screamin’ extremes to get heard.

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So, yes, my darlings, of course I laugh when I watch the Fifty-Foot Woman thunder into town to trample down power lines and make a grab for heinous Harry (“HARRY!”) cowering under a bar stool. But it’s a laugh prompted in part by recognition. I know how the dame feels. The Fifty-Foot Woman—mon semblable, ma soeur!

Harry gets a lift.

Harry gets a lift.

This post is part of the Classic Movie Blog Association’s Fabulous Films of the 50s Blogathon, featuring blog posts by CMBA members on cinema of the 1950s. Please click here to read these terrific posts on the films of this interesting decade.

BONUS CLIP: The finalé of Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, featuring an ethereal Allison Hayes and a smokin’ Yvette Vickers:

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44 Comments

  1. John Greco

     /  May 23, 2014

    GOM, I love your POV on this film. She’s an outsider and made fun of because of it. As a woman she is belittled. Trash cinema in its own little way can make profound statements. Great job!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much! I agree; in a strange way, trash movies can affect us. I think it’s because they’re so below the radar, they can slip in meanings beyond censors and critics. Thanks again for visiting and commenting.

      Reply
  2. Dan

     /  May 23, 2014

    Films like this, CAT GIRL, VOODOO WOMAN and even THE SHE CREATURE can be seen as pre-feminist statements. The kind of subversive anti-establishment statements that became explicit in the 60s & 70s are implicit here. And besides, it’s fun!

    Reply
    • Yes, very much agree. Some feminist film theorists argue that there’s a connection between the woman and the monster in horror films, in that both can be seen as outsiders from the dominant ‘patriarchal’ discourse. And there’s very much a subversive element involved. You can also see it in some of Val Lewton’s horror movies, such as Cat People and Bedlam, which feature strong female characters (certainly much better than just standing around and screaming). Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  3. This is brilliant. I’ve never seen the movie, but heard enough about its campiness to probably avoid it on purpose if it ever came up on TV, but now I’ve got to watch it. Love your prose, so intense and so witty, and so moving. Great bits, like, “Serious Art aspires to transcendence; Dumb Entertainment gets low-down and silly but, in the process, shows us the forest primeval. It’s all the primitive emotions we don’t want to admit to having.”

    Just a splendid post. Brava.

    Reply
    • Thanks SO much for your lovely comment! Even if you don’t like campy movies, I recommend this one. Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny (eg, scenes of two elderly doctors hoisting a giant hand are priceless), but I feel there are deeper issues roiling beneath. And it’s available on DVD and on Youtube. Thanks so much again.

      Reply
  4. Rick

     /  May 24, 2014

    GOM, I love your fantastic review! 50-FOOT WOMAN is a prime example of the “outsider” theme that dominated many of the 1950s youth films–regardless of genre. By “youth films,” I mean films that targeted the teen audience. It is indeed unique in that its protagonist is an incredibly attractive, grounded woman treated like crap by her scummy husband. Her rebellion may have the seed that sparked women’s lib (wouldn’t Helen Reddy’s anthem would be perfect for a montage scene?). I may be stretching a point, but then again, maybe not. I confess I disagree with one point in your review: Yvette Vickers is hot, she is no Allison Hayes!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Rick, very much appreciated! Great point you make about youth films and the outsider theme, particularly since many 50s horror/sci-fi films were directed to the teen market. I think the outsider theme in horror can probably be traced at least as far back as 1931’s Frankenstein; but in the 1950s it had a particular resonance with disillusioned teenagers. The 50s seems to have been the breeding ground of many revolutionary movements, including Feminism. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  5. This past week in Toronto part of a giant billboard at a downtown shopping centre fell, injuring a pedestrian. It was a poster of a bikini-clad woman. I could not stop laughing and shouting “Yea, sister!” “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” had come true.

    Reply
    • There is something of a wish-fulfillment fantasy about the 50-Foot Woman; she does represent female power (although I hope the pedestrian wasn’t too seriously injured!). The film’s poster is certainly one of the best. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  6. 1. The phrase “Sisterhood of the 50′ Pants” is perfect!
    2. I loved your poignant description of Allison Hayes’ performance.
    3. I’ve only seen bits of this film, but you’ve made me want to watch it ASAP, with this post in mind.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much! The 50-Foot Woman is certainly worth another look. And I think Allison Hayes is very good in it, she brings a sadness to the part that makes it affecting. Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  7. This is a fantastic study on the inner and outer workings of this movie and characters. You certainly made me think of things I’d never considered and may have to revisit with the 50 Foot Woman soon.

    Aurora

    Reply
    • Schlock movies often reflect the culture in ways different from accepted mainstream entertainment, that’s why I find them so interesting. Thanks so much for enjoying the post; and yes, the 50-Foot Woman is definitely worth a revisit!

      Reply
  8. Dan

     /  May 25, 2014

    Okay, here’s my theory: As you’ve pointed out, and most of us now from trashy watching, the Monster in a Monster Movie is always the most interesting character and often even the most sympathetic. The Hero is generally a very bland guy in a suit who bores and frustrates us to tears whenever he’s on-screen, because he takes time away from the Monster.

    Okay, in the early 50s the old Universal horror films were re-relased (by an outfit called Realart) and in the later 50s they turned up on television as “Shock Theater” packages, in each case gobbled up voraciously by the kiddies of the time.

    My theory is that kids of the 50s, fed a glut of monster movies, naturally identified with the hairy outcasts. The kids grew older, outgrew monster movies, but you can’t shake off those early impressions. And that’s how Hippies came to be

    Reply
    • Interesting point! As you note, the monsters, beginning with 1931’s Frankenstein, are always the most sympathetic characters. And, along with the TV Shock Theater packages, most of the B-product of sci-fi and horror was geared to children and adolescents. So you already have the seeds of the 1960s there! (Supposedly the word ‘freak’ came to be used by 1960s hippies as a term for the counter-culture, in part derived from the movie “Freaks.”) That’s why I like B-movies; they’re such a fertile area for speculation and analysis. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  9. I like your take on schlock movies even though I don’t see that many of them…well, that’s not quite true, since movies made on budgets large and small often turn out to be schlock. But you know what I mean. Your perspective on the character of the 50 foot woman and the performance of the actress who played her is absolutely fascinating – and perceptive.

    Don’t completely agree that all “Serious Art aspires to transcendence,” but it’s an interesting point.

    Reply
    • Very true that even big-budget movies can be schlock (such as Biblical epics), while low-budget films can be sterling art (Edgar Ulmer’s movies, for example). I try not to judge films by their budgets and subject matter; there are some horror movies, such as Frankenstein or Psycho, that are quite profound. Of course, I’m not denying that schlock is also fun, but we have many complex reasons for enjoying films! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

      Reply
  10. Dan

     /  May 25, 2014

    Speaking of big-budget Schlock, I must have seen MACKENNA’S GOLD 5 times when it came out, and I still don’t believe it.

    Reply
  11. What a great take on this title and I love how you got personal with it. This is one of the sexiest pieces on feminism I think I’ve ever read! Haven’t seen this one since I was a kid, so I think I must reacquaint myself with more mature eyes sometime soon.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Cliff – I’m glad you found it sexy! I think there’s a real feminist undercurrent in 1950s B films; probably being under the radar is why such material could be slipped in. It’s what makes that decade so fascinating, and more complex than the cliched, bland notions of white-bread surburbia that many people seem to have of it. Thanks for visiting, and also thanks for the RTs on Twitter!

      Reply
  12. I’ve only seen this film once at the Drive-In during the 70s with my parents. With that said and it being so long ago it stuck with me all these years. Just one reason I was glad to see you chose it for our Blogathon.

    You start out telling us you’ll be serious then you threw in “Harrrry”. I lost it! Is this film a masterpiece? No, but it certainly was top tier for this genre and during this era. I shy away from most monster, horror films from this time because they are just too campy for my taste. The giant ants, moths, spiders etc. I loved the idea of a giant woman destroying while being so damn likable.

    You’ve gone above and beyond with your well thought out review here. Truly enjoyable and a great addition to the Blogathon. I do plan on watching this film again. Can’t wait to see it with adult eyes and a new appreciation thanks to all you’ve pointed out here.
    All the best!
    Page

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, Page! As you say, ‘Attack’ is no masterpiece, but it does hold the interest and can raise many interpretations. I envy you that you saw it at a drive-in; what a perfect viewing venue! The film was out on DVD some years ago (though I think that edition is out of print); I think it may now be out on Warner Archive (it’s also available for fee-watching on YouTube). And thanks for such a great blogathon – many wonderful posts!

      Reply
  13. Love the comment about B movies highlighting the “forest primeval” of primitive emotions. It’s why we still remember Attack today, when many of the era’s showier dramas have faded into obscurity. Great post!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for commenting! Attack still remains one of my favorites, out of so much 50s sci-fi. I think it’s because of it’s woman’s ‘point of view’ and how it illustrates a woman’s reaction to the culture. So much goes on underneath the surface in B cinema.

      Reply
  14. Although I never saw this film I remember vividly the poster from my early adolescence. It seemed to be everywhere then, or maybe it was targeting youth. At any rate that such a giantess could look so sexy always piqued my interest even though I never got around to seeing the movie. There’s hope yet.

    Reply
    • The famous poster is absolutely memorable (it’s also been parodied in many forms since then, so it’s no wonder you may have seen it everywhere!). While Allison Hayes doesn’t do what is illustrated in the poster (so don’t be disappointed when you finally see it!), she does look very sexy in the film, both at normal size and at 50 feet. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Reply
  15. Thank you for this amazing review! I love your take on this movie and on this genre. Beautifully written, too!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I often think that B-cinema deserves another look, especially at how it reflects the culture; and this film has a lot going on in it. Thanks so much again.

      Reply
  16. I absolutely loved this, Grand Old Movies! Like Christian, I have not seen this yet though that poster from the film is deep within my psyche. You made me want to run right out and see it. I completely agree with you about the fantastic women in the film and their style–that alone makes me want to get it. But you also bring up some great points about the 1950s culture and how it viewed women, and how those kinds of undercurrents are found within the film. Certainly the fearsome nature of strong (tall) women is clear. I think people often under-appreciate these kinds of movies, but you’ve shown the many ways we should all think again. Great job!

    Reply
    • I hope you get to see it soon, it’s a fun, fascinating film and says much about its era in an under-the-radar way. Both Yvette Vickers and Allison Hayes play very strong female characters; they’re both intelligent, with their own opinions and ideas, and they not seen as simplistic or one-dimensional. An interesting note on the wardrobes: Yvette Vickers on the DVD commentary said that she wore her own clothes in the film, and her choices give an interesting insight as to how she viewed her character. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for visiting!

      Reply
  17. As so many have already stated, i love your perspective on this film. And indeed, your appreciation of how these marginalized cheapies sometimes, in their genre focus and belief they are not saying “anything,” often speak volumes about our culture in ways they’d never dreamed. I’ve always enjoyed this movie, but the interesting points you bring up (especially calling attention to the great Yvette Vickers) feel oddly vindicating. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Ken; your comments are so thoughtful and kind! I feel that these cheapies can speak to us, mainly because, as you note, they reflect our culture, but in ways we don’t dream of (in ways that the films probably had no idea of). Maybe it’s because they’re trying to appeal to the biggest of markets, or because their makers are willing to throw in anything that will evoke a response and get people away from their TVs (and, being below the censorship radar, they could get away with it). But I find the 50s a particularly fruitful period for this, in part because of the decade’s dynamics: a kind of imposed mass conformity on the surface, but with seething worries and concerns roiling beneath, that need to be expressed.

      My own response whenever I watch Yvette Vickers, an underrated actress and amazing presence on screen, is just ‘Wow!’ Probably she was just too electric and uninhibited to go mainstream!

      Reply
  18. This is a wonderfully written post! You’ve put more thought into this 50s schlockfest than its makers did, I’ll wager, and you’ve made me see it in a whole new light. Loved your description of Yvette Vickers (whom I remember most as the thumb-sucking little sister devouring Bogart’s Marlowe with her eyes in THE BIG SLEEP) and Allison Hayes. You’re spot on, this film gives a lot of “B-Movie Diva” bang for the buck. I like how you point out how these kinds of sci-fi and horror movies could get away with some really dark, sleazy stuff that the A-pictures couldn’t.

    I’ve always loved the poster to this movie, too.

    Reply
    • The poster is marvelous; it’s like a blueprint for the 50s mass unconscious! Sometimes I’m amazed watching these films to see how much they get away with; but because it’s all coded as Monsters From Outer Space or such like, I guess censors didn’t notice but took it at face value. I’m also surprised at how well made some of these B films are. In spite of cheap budgets, some filmmakers did try for something a little different, and actors often did good, professional work to the best of their abilities.

      I think you might have confused Yvette Vickers with Martha Vickers, who plays the thumb-sucking sister in The Big Sleep. Yvette did a lot of TV and movie work during the 1950s (she can actually be glimpsed as the girl on the phone in Sunset Blvd). Probably her next best-known film role is as the floozy wife in Roger Corman’s Attack of the Giant Leeches. She’s just as sexy and dynamic in that film as she is in Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, and she looks terrific.

      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

      Reply
  19. D’oh! You’re right…Martha Vickers, not Yvette, in THE BIG SLEEP! Thanks for the correction!

    Reply
  20. What a beautiful commentary on this movie and on ’50s B-movies in general. You really put your finger on how these underground movies speak to people. Because they don’t have to worry so much about prestige and mass appeal, they can cut straight to those elemental dreams and fears. Not surprising that Monsters vs. Aliens used the 50-Foot Woman for inspiration for their movie’s heroine. It’s such a perfectly applicable metaphor for someone who’s been repressed and downtrodden too long. You’ve done a fantastic job with this post and I plan to keep an eye out for this movie (and for Yvette Vickers).

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I think you’re right, that these low-budget films can get right to something elemental in us, especially since they don’t have to concern themselves with critical accolades. The 50s seem an especially fruitful era for such films because it seems a decade based on repression and conformity – it’s almost like a backdoor peek into the collective unconscious. Yvette Vickers didn’t have a stellar career (mainly low-budget films and tv of the 50s-60s), but she was a true free spirit onscreen and made an indelible impact in whatever she did. Thanks again for visiting!

      Reply
  21. Rod Labbe

     /  July 6, 2014

    I’m old enough (61) to have seen Attack of the 50 Foot Woman when I was a kid (6) and have never forgotten it. Just the other day, I was watching the film on a cable channel. Both my sister (who took me to see it originally) and I sat there, laughing. At one point, she got up to get something to eat, and I half-heartedly continued watching. Then, THAT scene happened. The one you mentioned, where Nancy says, ‘I’m sorry, Harry. I’m sorry.” For some odd, inexplicable reason, right then and there, I was seeing something else. Not some schlock film about a super-imposed “50 foot” woman with rubbery hands, but real acting. It took me completely out of the movie; even afterwards, the scene bothered me…and then, to read about it here, well, what a strange coincidence.

    One thing I could never figure out, though. Just how big was Nancy’s bedroom?!

    Reply
    • Hi Rod, and thanks so much for your lovely comment and recollection. I had the same reaction seeing that scene in the film: just where did it come from? It indicated that something more was going on, and I always find it so affecting and yet disturbing when I watch it. Hayes certainly took her role seriously enough to give a real performance.

      Ah, yes, the question of Nancy’s bedroom and how she fits in … I guess that’s also something that’s not quite in the movie!

      Reply
  22. Rod Labbe

     /  July 8, 2014

    And I gotta say, I kept thinking “Perry Mason episode” throughout most of this movie. The sets, the acting, the “look,” the lengthy scenes of people driving lonely roads…why, if Perry and Paul suddenly made an appearance on behalf of Nancy’s interests, it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit!

    Reply
    • So many low-budget 50s horror films have that TV look. I think they were the remnants of studios’ ‘B’ units, much of which was taken over by TV. I think these films were also being geared to the teenage drive-in trade, the repository of B product.

      Reply

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