Dr. Helfenbein is an avid film watcher (or, as some would say, cinephile) and will be writing a semi-regular column for the BACC Rag in which he recommends older movies students might be interested in watching.
In the previous column, I mentioned that the large number of science fiction movies produced in the 1950s may in part be due to the atomic zeitgeist: by 1949, both the United States and the Soviet Union had atomic weapons. Many science fiction movies of the era deal with radioactivity in one way or another. In this column, I have written about two of these movies, both of which deal with the (fictional) effects of radiation, but go in opposite directions: one to the little and one to the big.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) directed by Jack Arnold from a screenplay by Richard Matheson (from his novel) is the story of Scott Carey. During a day outing on a boat, an unusual mist passes over the vessel . . . and Carey’s body. Apparently, it is of no concern, but as the weeks go by he notices that his clothes are too big for him. Initially he thinks he may have lost weight. Eventually he goes to the doctor and discovers that not only has he lost weight, but he has also grown shorter. A visit to a research lab determines that the mist that Carey encountered was radioactive. He also remembers that weeks before the boating trip he had been exposed to a chemical insecticide. This combination has caused a change in the molecular structure of his cells. As time goes by, Scott Carey can no longer work, his relationship with his wife deteriorates, as does his relationship with the family cat once he is mouse-sized (and then there is the spider in the basement he must confront when insect-sized). It would seem as