whence it came

It Came from Beneath the Sea

It Came from Beneath the Sea is an American black and white science fiction film produced by Sam Katzman and Charles Schneer for Columbia Pictures, and was released in 1955, from a script by George Worthing Yates designed to showcase the special model-animated effects of Ray Harryhausen. It was directed by Robert Gordon and stars Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue and Donald Curtis. Much of the filming was done at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, including scenes aboard a submarine, and several naval personnel were given supporting roles, including Lt. Chuck Griffiths as the sub's second in command. Columbia distributed as well as produced, making available their Creature with the Atom Brain as a second feature for double bill bookings.


A nuclear submarine on patrol maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean comes into contact with something the sonar determines is massive. The boat is disabled but manages to free itself and dock at Pearl Harbor. There it is discovered animal tissue of great proportions has jammed in its propellers. A man-and-woman team of marine biologists is called in, and they identify the tissue as part of a gigantic octopus. The military authorities scoff at this explanation, but are finally persuaded to investigate upon receiving reports of missing bathers, and ships pulled under the water by some living thing. The scientists conclude the octopus is from the Mindanao Deep and has been forced out of its natural habitat due to hydrogen bomb testing in the area. The testing has rendered the octopus radioactive, and this radioactivity drives off its natural food supply. The Navy tracks the beast, first to Astoria, Oregon, where it attacks people on shore, leaving sucker imprints in the sand, and then to San Francisco. As a jet-propelled torpedo (capable of being detonated by remote control) is developed which can penetrate the octopus's thick hide, and reach its brain to kill it, it increases its forays onto land, first attacking the Golden Gate Bridge and then coming ashore at the Embarcadero, where it kills panicking crowds and destroys buildings, including the Ferry Building. The sub commander and the scientists elect to take on the creature underwater. The torpedo penetrates its skin, but the monster captures the sub in its grip, trapping it and making it impossible to set off the torpedo without destroying the sub. Two divers go out and annoy the octopus, which thereupon releases the sub. The sub escapes and detonates the embedded torpedo from a safe distance. All survive, except the octopus, which is presumed to have been destroyed.


Ever budget-conscious, producer Katzman allowed Ray Harryhausen only enough money to animate six of the octopus' arms and two were cut off. Thus, Harryhausen jokingly dubbed this creature a "hextapus" (Reference: The documentary "The Harryhausen Chronicles", which is available on the DVDs of various Harryhausen films). The number of arms is incorrectly described as five in various sources, including A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films, by Jeff Rovin, p. 63, Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey.

The submarine used in the opening is the USS Cubera (SS-347), she was the first of 24 post-war "GUPPY-II" - converted fleet attack submarines of the Balao class.

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