Thursday, November 1, 2007

Iconic

A few years back, my friend Amelia Rosner, on a business trip to Chicago, called me on her cell phone.

"Matt? I'm in a print shop and they have this poster. It's from a movie called Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman. Have you ever seen it? Should I pick you up a copy?"

"There is no need." I replied. "This is an artifact well known to My People."

The poster for Attack of the Fifity Foot Woman is the most recognizable icon in pop culture dealing with giant women. The poster is one of the best selling movie posters of all time, even though the movie itself pretty much sucks.

Let me repeat that: The movie sucks. This is largely the view of My People as well.

There were many Giant Menace movies in the 1950's. Giant bugs, giant shrews, giant gila monsters, whatever. There were also two famous human size changing movies, The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Amazing Colossal Man. Both were significantly better than Fifty Foot Woman, whose budget was next to nothing and special effects were sad, sad, sad. In the film's defense, Allison Hayes, who plays the giantess, and Yvette Vickers, who plays the little tramp girlfriend of the giantess' creepy husband, are both nothing but fine, fine fine. But the attack itself happens only for the last five minutes or so of a 65 minute film that feels much longer because it is such a dull thing. Moreover, the "attack" has no scene in it that even remotely resembles the poster. Such a scene would require money and strong special effects, two things in very short supply on this film.

It's really a soap opera with a sci-fi ending tacked on. From what I hear, TV soap operas have been getting goofier and goofier nowadays, but back in the 1950's, soaps didn't add in aliens from outer space into the plots, now matter how bad the ratings got.

Still, the poster is famous. I've seen the heads of other women who are supposed to be powerful and scary photoshopped onto this poster. Right wingers put Hillary's head on that torso. Left wingers glued on Ann Coulter's head. I found both of the efforts unconvincing. That torso does not belong to either woman, even if it were just five and a half feet tall. (It's even a little more va-va-voomy than Allison Hayes was, but only a little.)

The poster is so famous, and the movie so weak, that it was remade. HBO put up the cash for a new version in the 1990's starring Darryl Hannah. It still has a soap opera like plot, they added the role of a domineering father (William Windom) and a sympathetic psychiatrist (Frances Fisher), but it's still pretty much the story of Nancy Archer (Hannah), her scumbag husband Harry (Daniel Baldwin) and the town tramp Honey (Cristi Conaway). [You might remember when I talked about Lana Clarkson and balked at her description as a "struggling actress". Go to imdb.com and look at Cristi Conaway's list of roles. She's a lovely woman, but THAT'S what the career of a struggling actress looks like, when you don't even get a role as good as star of Barbarian Queen.]

The HBO version is better than the original, in my opinion. There are actual intentional laughs and the special effects are much better. When it was shown on HBO fourteen years ago, it was the highest rated premiere movie they had ever had on the network. This was before HBO decided to make the high quality series, mini-series and movies, but still, a record is a record.

I could have made this post entirely about the poster for the original film, which as I said is the most famous icon for giant women in our culture, but I decided to bring up the remake for one more blog related reason. The Darryl Hannah version of Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman is directed by none other than the talented and lovely Christopher Guest. A few actors who also have shown up in his improv classics have roles in this film, including a large supporting role for Paul Benedict and a cameo for Lewis Arquette.

And so I fulfill my contractual obligation for giant woman content this month. If there are more mentions of giant women in the month of November, it will be entirely pro bono. (Or is it pro se?)


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Now playing: Elvis Costello - My Science Fiction Twin
via FoxyTunes

13 comments:

dguzman said...

I admire you for not just posting another gorgeous pic of Liz Kucinich (not that I would've minded) and instead opting for an in-depth analysis of Your People and the films aimed at you.

dguzman said...

still, if you want to post another photo of Mrs. Kucinich--feel free, man.

Splotchy said...

Wow, that was beautiful how you tied in giant women and one of your adopted actors.

If somehow mathematics were also integrated into this post a seamless manner, I would have prompted to give up blogging, as your brilliance in connecting seemingly disparate elements would shame me.

Splotchy said...

I may have to give up blogging regardless, based on that poorly constructed, grammatically-incorrect comment.

Matty Boy said...

To dguzman: In my oddly compartmentalized mind, "giant women" and "gigantic child brides" are two separate topics, and pictures of Elizabeth Kucinich a compartment all her own. I might well add another picture of Miss Elizabeth this month, for no other reason than I Want To, which is always reason enough on this blog.

To splotchy: Thanks, dude. Math and giant women are in fact the connection I will be putting together in my currently planned December post, tentatively titled No Giant Women For Matty Boy! [sniff.]

Always glad to link up one of my adopted actors to a concept, when it isn't too much of a stretch.

Karla said...

I wants to know.

Does Your People frequent this blog?

'Cause this is like leaving candy out for them, right?

Matty Boy said...

Yes, My People do frequent this blog. There are many websites exclusively for My People and Our Agenda, and I visit one of these websites semi-regularly. I let the folks there know that I would be doing some giant woman stuff from time to time, and let them know when there is an update.

If you go to the webpage below, it gives info on the last 100 visitors. If we count just those who logged on to giant woman pages, it accounts for about 8 of the visits. Gigantic Child Brides account for about 14 of the last 100 visits. As I said before, I consider the two topics separate.

http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s34lotsasplainin&r=37

FranIAm said...

Brilliant weaving of the giantesses and squarely into Christopher Guest.
Spotchy said it first, but I second it.

You and your people!

Am I your shortest woman fan? How tall is my girl dguzman?

Signed 5'1" and almost 5-0!

Karla said...

That stats site is cool!

Matty Boy said...

Yes, it is. I love the blog, but I iz addicted to da statz!

Including, of course, the flags of many lands, which went up a notch today.

dguzman said...

Dang, I think Fran and I are exactly. the. same. height. Somewhere between 5' and 5'1".

I didn't even think about the fact that OF COURSE GCBrides and giant women would be different categories. My apologies, sir.

hyfler/rosner said...

I wrote this once, but it didn't take, or maybe you removed it?

Just wanted to correct the story. It wasn't months ago, it was years ago. It wasn't NYC, it was Chicago.

Carry on.

Amelia

Matty Boy said...

Thanks for the corrections, Amelia. I didn't remove it.

I didn't remove Jeff Gannon, real or fake. I'm gonna remove you, when I know you're real and you know I luv ya?

Wadda take me for?