Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

In director Jack Arnold's existential, allegorical science-fiction film with fantastic special effects, it told about a shrunken, miniscule human being; the landmark film was based on author Richard Matheson's adaptation of his own 1956 novel [Note: Similar films that paid homage included Fantastic Voyage (1966), The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), Innerspace (1987) and Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989).]:

  • in the opening sequence, Robert "Scott" Carey (Grant Williams) was contaminated by exposure to nuclear radiation/waste, when during a vacation off the California coast, his boat came into contact with a strange, misty white cloud above the water and covered his chest with white glittering particles; his wife escaped exposure due to being below deck
  • over a period of months, after being accidentally exposed to a pesticide (a triggering effect), Scott gradually began to shrink in size as he lost weight and stature, compared to his wife Louise Carey (Randy Stuart); he realized that his clothes didn't fit, and that he was losing both weight and stature
  • he voiced his concerns to family physician Dr. Arthur Bramson (William Schallert), followed by numerous tests at the California Medical Research Institute led by Dr. Thomas Silver (Raymond Bailey)
  • "Shrinking Man" Scott suggested to Louise that she was free to leave him, exemplified by his wedding ring limply slipping from his finger
  • Scott was attacked by his now-dangerous house cat Butch (Orangey), and was forced to hide for refuge in a miniature doll house before he was forced down into his home's basement
  • Louise expressed fears that the cat ate him, with KIRL TV broadcasting the news (John Hiestand): "From Los Angeles today, a tragic story. The passing of Robert Scott Carey. The report of the death of the so-called Shrinking Man comes from his brother. Carey's death was the result of an attack by a common house cat -- a former pet in the Carey home. Carey was the victim of the most fantastic ailment in the annals of medicine. Thus ends the life of a man whose courage and will to survive lasted until the the very end. A man whose fantastic story was known to virtually every man, woman and child in the civilized world"
  • now three inches in height and in retreat in the basement, he unsuccessfully attempted to snatch a piece of stale cheese from a giant mousetrap, and attempted to reach some moldy dry cake; he obtained water from a leaky water heater, and sheltered himself in a matchbox, but then he nearly drowned (now 3 inches in height) when trapped in the flooded basement due to the busted, leaking water heater
  • Scott engaged in a deadly battle with a giant tarantula, seen with a close-up of its voracious mouth, when he was finally able to impale the threatening creature and kill it with a straight pin
Deadly Encounters

A Scary House-Cat Attack

An Approaching Tarantula
  • in the final third of the film, the dialogue was non-existent except for Scott's narration of his own vulnerable, utterly alone and existential predicament, and the profound meaning and understanding he had of his fragile life
  • in the film's conclusion, Scott delivered a memorable enlightened philosophical speech - an epiphany of sorts - about being infinitesimal (now about one inch in height), as he stood before an enlarged basement window vent screen and escaped outdoors for a new beginning without fear: ("I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close - the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet - like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of Man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature that existence begins and ends is man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I STILL EXIST!")

"Scott's" Exposure to a Strange Misty White Cloud

Contaminated - Causing Shrinkage

In Doll House - Scott Shrinking Next to Louise



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