The Giant Claw 1957
The Giant Claw - Released June 1957. Directed by Fred F. Sears
Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday fill up most of the run-time for The Giant Claw, a science-fiction giant-bird film featuring a rather unconvincing outer space vulture that is tormenting pilots across the North America skies.
With dialogue being cheaper than special effects, Morrow and Corday have a lot of work to do in carrying this story over its 75 minutes, even if it means standing in front of the cameras and simply checking off items on a clipboard, something we see Corday do in many scenes.
Originally producer Sam Katzman worked with Ray Harryhausen who created a prototype for the titular monster bird, but because of the low budget, Katzman switched the actual effects work to a small company in Mexico who used marionettes instead of stop-motion.
To save additional money, scenes from other films are cobbled together with actual shot footage to fill out the 75 minutes. Scenes from 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Mission over Korea appears, as does special effect moments from Earth v. The Flying Saucers.
The result is a movie which isn't laughably bad until the "giant claw" appears, and then: it is laughably bad.
The film screenwriter (Samuel Newman) also wrote Invisible Invaders, and re-used the character Dr. Karol Noyman for that film.
Plan 9 and the Giant Claw
It appears Director Ed Wood studied Katzman's film. Comparing The Giant Claw with the Ed Wood magnum Opus Plan 9 from Outer Space, Wood's 1959 film shows some similarity onscreen.
Wood uses Katzman's story-telling methods of an unseen (to the viewer) phenomenon that frightens pilots who are not believed when they report what they've seen.
Katzman also communicates plot points by newspaper headline, as does Wood.
Police cars move around in the night in both films.
And both films rely on military personnel in perfectly pressed suits analyzing the danger while surrounded by stacks of radio equipment which are turned toward the viewer so that they can enjoy the technology.
And both films use stock footage (or borrowed footage) to help stretch the run time.
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From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
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Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association
Original Page Aug 2, 2014 | Updated March 2018