Saturday, May 16, 2015

"The Blob" Introducing Steve McQueen

"The Blob" Introducing Steve McQueen

Beware The Blob!

Looking back on the movies of the 1950s, I particularly remember the movie "The Blob" from the days of going to drive-in movies. At that time, invaders from outer space films were the rage. It was science fiction and horror rolled into one. It affected many of us because of our fear of a communist invasion, and in our minds at least, it was practically the same kind of thing. The Blob was even more terrifying because it was without a definite form; just matter, that could slip, slide and glide through any tiny opening. It could then cover you, and eat you alive! With each human absorption, it grew larger. Oh yes, it was terrifying and being terrified just fascinated all movie goers.


Another Reason "The Blob" Was Interesting

There was another reason for our fascination, at least for the females. The movie introduced a guy in his first leading role, whom we all came to know and love; Steve McQueen. He played a teenager (he was actually 27 years old) who tried to warn the community about this menace, but who was ignored. I liked his big blue eyes and his way of handling himself. For his role in "The Blob" McQueen received only $3,000, turning down an offer of a smaller upfront share with 10 percent of the profits. He didn't believe the film would make any money and he needed the money to live on. Too bad he couldn't see the future when making the deal; the blob grossed over $4 million dollars at the box office. Still, it gave him the toehold in Hollywood that he needed.

Who knew then that he would go on to be the legendary "tough guy" of so many films we loved? His performances in "The Sand Pebbles" (for which he received an Academy Award Nomination) "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Bullitt," "Papillon," "The Great Escape," "The Magnificent Seven," "The Towering Inferno," and other roles, brought him to the peak of his craft in earnings, making him the highest paid star in Hollywood in 1974. After that, he did not make another film for six years. In 1980 he made his last two films, "Tom Horn," and "The Hunter." Steve McQueen died of cancer on November 7th, 1980.

The Movie Plot "Thickens" (Pun Intended)

In a small rural town in Pennsylvania, a teenager, Steve Andrews (McQueen) and his girlfriend Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) are doing some heavy kissing in a local lover's lane when they see something speed out of the night sky and crash just beyond the next hill. Curious to see what the object is, they decide to go see what it's all about. Before they can get there, an old man has found it first and he pokes it with a stick. The meteorite breaks open and a small jelly-like substance suddenly leaps and attaches to his hand and arm. In pain and unable to remove the substance, he runs into the road and is nearly struck by McQueen's car as they arrive at the site. They take him to the doctor, who asks Steve to go back to the site and see what kind of information he can find about the substance. They leave and we pan back to the doctor's office, where the old man is slowly being absorbed, and both the doctor and the nurse are also absorbed by the Blob, which then grows in size. It's the beginning of many more such horrific scenes. The fright overcomes most folks watching because it's the sort of thing we dread; the invasion of something that overcomes us without our being aware of its intentions until it's too late.

 The movie may be purchased here from Amazon.

The Blob (1958)



The Blob: Not The Best or The Worst of 1958's Movies.

By all means, this movie was not Academy Award winner material. But it certainly wasn't the worst of the bunch that were produced during the 1950s, there were lots who qualified for that title. But there were others, like "Them," "The Thing," "Creature From The Black Lagoon," and more of that genre, that were good at scaring us. They all played on our fear of being invaded, either by alien beings, or (translated in our minds,) by the Communists. We just switched one "bogeyman" for another in our imagination. But they were spooky, gave us the chills and were fun to watch, just the same. Movie goers went to films of this sort in droves, it was the fad of the day.

Popular Movie? Let's Make A Song!

Once "The Blob" was a big hit the theaters, of course, there had to be a song about it. It was written by none other than the famous Burt Bacharach and Mack David and became a nationwide hit for singer Bernie Knee, using an overdubbing technique so that it sounded like there were more singers. It was a fun song, and people went around singing the catchy tune. Even today, once you hear it you find yourself humming the tune. At the time I didn't find the song particularly delightful, because to me it didn't fit with the terror you felt watching that thing envelope someone. Now I think it's cute...give a listen and see if you agree.



Blob Trivia

  • "The Blob" was actually made from silicone, adding more and more red dye to it as it "absorbed" people, and as it grew with each "absorption."
  • The Town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where parts of the movie were filmed, holds an annual Blob Fest. A scene is re-enacted, (one you can see in a video above,) where the crowd runs screaming from a theater where the blob is wreaking havoc.
  • In 1972 Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing in "Dallas") directed a sequel known as "Beware! The Blob!" It didn't have near the popularity the original did.


More Terrifying Movies, Based On Atomic Mutation

What about the movies that have mutations from atomic radiation? That was a biggie during the 50s too. Giant ants so terrorized a little girl in "Them," that she was traumatized to the point all she could scream was "Them!" I can't believe what a good actor she was at such a tender age. And believe me when I tell you, this movie scared me! After all, we were in awe of such a terrible force and what it might do to the world. So why wouldn't it make ordinary things mutate into horrible monsters? I never looked at ants the same way again in my life as I did before watching this movie.




The Thing - "Look To The Sky!"

"The Thing" was also a nightmare for me for a couple nights. He was violent, scary and huge (James Arness, standing tall, and in make-up.) Thawed from Arctic ice, a flying saucer is found with some sort of "being" frozen inside. Taken inside the laboratory, the creature thaws and comes back to life. The scientist thinks he's just frightened and misunderstood and tries to communicate with him, only to realize all the monster wants to do is kill. The makeup Arness was wearing made him look like a big carrot to me, but obviously much more frightening.

The Thing From Another World

The Thing from Another World

 Creature From The Black Lagoon

For me, this film was a little hokey, not really that scary. But, it was different, and in those days, that was the big draw for any movie. That's all that was necessary, that it have some sort of odd appeal, either in the central character, or a monster, or a comic relief part. As long as there was something in the "unusual" mode, the movie was a winner. "The Creature From The Black Lagoon," was kind of fun for me. Maybe I'd grown up a bit more by then, or maybe I'd become insensitive to these "atomic age" monsters. Fear can only haunt you so long, until you finally become immune to it.