Galactic Fleet Admiral (site admin)
Joined: 14 Dec 2013
Location: North Carolina
|Posted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 12:08 pm Post subject: Godzilla Raids Again (1955) aka Giganntis the Fire Monster
First of all, what's with the title of this movie? Godzilla RAIDS Again?
Do dinosaurs "raid"? I know they can roam, they can roar, and they can rage. But . . . [i]raid?
On a more positive not, even though I'm not a Godzilla fan, when TMC showed this one today it held my attention because of its unusual opening and the fact that it does a surprisingly good job of developing interesting characters.
I was pleased by the fact that most of the non-monster parts of the story didn't deal with tanks and planes and generals standing around battle maps moving place-markers to show troop movements.
For example, there's a wonderful scene in a traditional "chairless" Japanese restaurant with a group of men sitting on the floor while they toast the engagement of a friend, drinking lots of sake in those silly little cups.
It was pleasant and realistic, and it wasn't interrupted by an air raid or a giant foot coming through the ceiling.
IMDB has several interesting trivia items for this production. The first one below surprised me by stating that the critics agreed with my statement about the merits of this Godzilla sequel.
~ Upon its release this film garnered better critical reception in Japan than the original Godzilla (1954), which received very mixed reactions. Ishirô Honda, director of the first film, noted that film critics at the time dismissed science fiction movies and the notion that the genre could have deeper themes. Because Honda wanted to insert a message into his films, he recalled the original Godzilla being considered far too "weird" which was the reason why critics liked this movie better.
Note from me: Like I said earlier, this movie has surprising merits.
~ Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya wanted the battle between Godzilla and Anguirus filmed in slow motion, but a camera technician accidentally undercranked the camera instead of overcranking it, resulting in the action appearing faster than reality. Tsuburaya liked the effect, and decided to use it in the film. Tsuburaya was known to keep or intentionally add such effects if he felt they were interesting.
Note from me: When I watched this on TCM recently I was amazed that the fight between these two "giant" monsters was actually sped up instead of slowed down. The result is downright comical, like watching a Charlie Chaplin movie!
Ironically the fight has a few scenes which actually are in slow-motion, but this just accents the fact that the rest of the battle resembles the martial arts fighrts in the old Bruce Lee movies — only faster!
~ Godzilla (1954) became such a huge hit that Toho immediately produced a sequel. Specifically it was a decision by Toho's executive producer Iwao Mori. He had returned to Japan after working on the film Madame Butterfly (1954) and had learned about the monumental success of the first Godzilla film. His orders to producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was to "make another one".
Even though numerous special effects scenes were required, Toho had the film ready in less than six months after the original film was released. Despite it's rushed production, the film was another box office hit and remains as one of the most successful Godzilla movies and 30th most attended film of all time Japanese box office.
Note from me: Although the big battle (which takes place relatively earlier in the film) is laughable, the other FX are a cut above the original.
The shots of the miniature airplanes are quite good — both the fighter jets dropping bombs and the numerous shots of two "Piper Cub" type aircraft with pontoons. These small planes served as spotters for the Japanese fishing fleets, radioing in exactly locations when they sited big schools of fish.
The pilots of these two planes are key characters, and their small aircraft even play a key role in Godzilla's defeat!
~ This suit used in this movie was very similar to the first one in Godzilla (1954).
It was slimmed down to fit Haruo Nakajima better and to make the acting process a little more comfortable. It would also allow him to make more violent moves while shooting battle scenes.
In addition, the irises were much bigger than the original suit, which were smaller and had the "beady" look. The dorsal fins were kept about the same size and shape as the original. This overall appearance still gave Godzilla a look of terror and menace to mankind.
Note from me: There was one closeup of Godzilla in the final battle when his eyes actually moved a bit while he was studying a large number of oil drums the military had placed at the mouth of the canyon Godzilla was in, so they could set fire the drums and trap the monster.
~ The Godzilla prop used in the shot when the planes fly over him in the ice mountains was actually a wind-up prop. It was originally supposed to be walking in the shot, but it looked so unrealistic that the finished movie has it simply standing still. Either way, it is still one of the most infamously awkward effect shots of the film.
Note from me: Interesting! I wondered about that aerial shot from one of the planes, because it looked so cheaply done. The painfully obvious miniature was indeed motionless. It was a mistake to include that shot.
~ George Takei's first film project.
Note from me: Well, I'll be damned! Sulu vs Godzilla! IMDB list his role this way.
Godzilla Raids Again — Commander of Landing Craft (English version, voice, uncredited)
Here's a related item.
~ George Takei, better known as Lt. Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek: The Original Series (1966), was one of the many voice actors employed for this film. The only other Kaiju film he performed voice work for was in the Americanized version of Rodan (1956).
Note from me: Ah-ha. So, He was part of the original version I saw on TCM, which had Japanese dialog with subtitles.
~ The book on dinosaurs that the scientist uses to brief the authorities on Anguirus is actually titled "The Dinosaur Book", by Edwin Colbert. According to the dialogue, the scientist is reading of the terrible, carnivorous "angilosaurus", but in reality, the page is describing "strictly herbivorous" iguanodonts.
Note from me: With just a few exceptions, quadrupedal dinosaurs are herbivorous, and bipedal dinos are carnivorous. That's why I've always love Harryhausen's rhedosaurus. It's a fictional dino who is an exception to the rule.
~ The only Godzilla movie where Godzilla's spines do not glow before he releases his atomic breath.
Note from me: Hey, I didn't notice that omission when I watched it on TCM!
~ The presence of the criminals in the film came from the original story pitch from Takeo Murata as he wanted to display the mayhem and looting that would occur if a disaster like a real monster attack occurred. However, the film's quick production schedule would prevent this idea from being fully realized.
Note from me:The escaped prisoners segment had me puzzled for a while. Here's why.
A truckload of prisoners who are under guard are being evacuated from the area Godzilla is approach. They suddenly overpower the guards and leap out of the truck. All but three are quickly recaptured, but the trio steal a fuel truck and flee from the pursuing police, driving the truck into a large fishing cannery.
I wondered why this Japanese monster movie had suddenly turned into a prison escape yarn . . . but then the fuel truck crashesd and caused a huge explosion in a fishing cannery.
At the same time, Godzilla was being lured back out to sea by dozens of flares dropped by fighter jets. The scientists had devised a plan based on the idea that Godzilla was attracted to bright lights, so the city was blacked out, and the flares were luring the Big G back to the ocean.
But suddenly the darkened city was ablaze with the burning seaside cannery, and Godzilla turned around and headed back to the land!
So, the escaped prisoners screwed up the plan to save the city, thus causing all the death and destruction which followed.
By the way, the FX of the crashing (miniature) truck, the cannery complex, and the inferno which resulted were all very impressive.
~ Instead of using Masaru Satô's original score, Warner substituted themes from Kronos (1957) and The Deerslayer (1957).
Note from me: The original score is very good, and quite different from the usual soundtrack music for Japanese sci-fi. It's also much better than the score for the original Godzilla (in my own opinion).
~ For Godzilla's 66th anniversary Toho launched a Godzilla café in Osaka, the site of this film's climatic battle.
Note from me: I loved to see photos of that cafe. I'll see it I can locate some.
~ The Osaka castle miniature was constructed at a height of 2 meters with the suit actors supposed to collide into it while off-screen staff pulled on hidden wires to collapse the miniature. However when shooting the scene miniature did not collapse.
Tsubraya told the staff to cut the cameras after which the whole thing came troubling down. The miniature had to be partially rebuilt with stop-motion footage used to show the castle cracking.
Note from me: I noticed the scene with the "stop motion" cracks. They appeared to just be white lines painted onto the surface of the building to simulate cracks, with the cracks extended a little at a time as the camera was advanced a few frames.
Not very convincing.
~ The version of this film currently shown on TCM (and distributed on DVD by Criterion) is in the orginal Japanese, with all dialogue subtitled. The English title, Godzilla Raids Again, is something of a misnomer, since it is explained at a meeting of The Godzilla Response Team, that the monster from the first film was indeed destroyed, and that this creature is the same species, but a different creature.
Note from me: I did hear the name "Gojira" spoken by the Japanese actors, and the subtitles displayed "Godzilla".
The scene in the meeting room includes a discussion of the "Oxygen Destroyer" used to kill Godzilla. But the scientists state that it sank to the bottom of Tokyo Bay, and the inventor had passed away, taking the secret of this device with him.
So, even though the movie makes it plain that this is not THE Godzilla, they do in fact use that name for this second monster as well.
_________ Godzilla Raids Again (1955) - Trailer
There are some people who, if they don't already know, you can't tell 'em. ~ Yogi Berra