Tonight on MeTV , we kick off our Gigantic January with the English-language version of the famed Toho Studios film that started the reign of the most famous Japanese kaiju ( giant monster) in motion picture history ! Raymond Burr guides us through the origin of "Godzilla- King of the Monsters"!
This 1956 film begins with reporter Steve Martin ( and, yes, it is ironic that the character is named Steve Martin, long before we all became aware of the banjo-playing comedian ) -in the person of Raymond Burr- in serious condition, being brought to an over-crowded hospital loaded with other victims of a horrible catastrophe. We learn what has happened, as we flashback to Martin flying in to Japan, for a visit with an old scientist colleague. Upon arrival, he is whisked to the authorities, who ask if he saw anything unusual below his aircraft during the flight-it seems that there have been some strange unexplained naval disasters in nearby waters. When a survivor of one of these events washes ashore at a small island, Martin joins military investigators to check out the island- and finds that the natives there actually believe that the disasters were caused by a legendary gigantic sea monster whose anger they have attempted to squelch for many years by making sacrifices!
The investigation turns up traces of radioactivity- and- unbelievably- giant footprints! The origin of these is discovered when the mighty Godzilla appears! After its frightening appearance, Dr. Yemane, a renowned expert who has been with the investigating party, returns to Tokyo to explain his theory that this gigantic creature has been awakened from ages of hibernation by man's atomic testing. Martin feels the scientist pal he came to visit, Serizawa, may have an opinion, and tries to consult with him- but his friend claims to be far too busy. We learn that, coincidentally, Dr. Yemane’s daughter is scheduled to marry Serizawa- but it appears that her heart now belongs to another man- and she is trying to figure out how to reveal the truth to the scientist. It is during one of her attempts to tell Serizawa the sad news that she discovers a horrible discovery he is hiding from the world- for its own good!
Suddenly- in a scene that will be repeated in countless future films- Godzilla appears in Tokyo Bay and heads onshore to cause horrific destruction of the city! Any defensive system planned fails miserably- Godzilla's rampage seems unstoppable! Martin does his best to provide live coverage of the damage being done- only to be injured as the devastation continues.This brings us up to the point where the movie started, with Martin hospitalized and at a loss as far as what to do next. Circumstances end up pointing towards a single dangerous way to end Godzilla’s attacks- involving the secret discovery of Serizawa’s. Not everyone agrees on using it- but- will anything provide even slim hope that the monstrous creature can be stopped before it's too late?
This film was the first exposure most of us had to Godzilla- and, you’ll notice that this movie has a much more serious tone than most of the later Godzilla films, with so much sadness and parallels to real-life events. We’ll run down the movie’s history, explain how Burr was inter-cut into the original all-Japanese cast,and pay our respects to the man who was inside the Godzilla suit, who passed away last year. Also, watch for the encore of the special comedy segment with our friend, the hilarious Jamie Farr- best known as Max Klinger from "MASH”!
We realize that not everyone is a fan of the Godzilla films- and that some viewers will feel they don't want to tune in. Briefly- we are legally contracted to run these films again at this time. And- yes- there is quite an audience for them, as indicated by the ratings they get. We hope the non-fans will bear with us during this month.
“Godzilla- King of the Monsters” surfaces on MeTV tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central time- and you can check your local listings, or at www.metv.com, for time and station in your area. Our Chicago viewers get another look at the equally "large -in-comparison" ( to his victims) "Dr. Cyclops" at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
Check out the new line-up for our "Red Eye Sci Fi" that rolls tonight after our "Super Sci Fi Saturday night" shows! Leading off is a favorite of many of our viewers- "Kolchak: the Night Stalker"! And- watch for more Godzilla every Saturday night this month. And, next month- a whole month of new movies!
Join us tonight as the future Perry Mason faces a radio-active mammoth menace that could even dent Ironside!