A Californian newsreader outlines sightings of a mysterious craft seen across the world, from Egypt to New Zealand - indicating its path on a globe, he wonders whether it could next be seen over the local landscape. And he's right, as multimillionairess Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes) is driving home after yet another spat with her two-timing husband Harry (John Hudson, called William this time). Suddenly she hears a strange noise and from out the heavens shoots a huge sphere that settles on the road ahead. Screaming, Nancy gets out of her car only to be confronted by a towering alien who makes a grab for her priceless diamond necklace. She manages to escape, but her well-known neurosis makes everyone suspect her story - though they will soon be taking her a lot more seriously...
One of the most famous titles of all nineteen-fifties science fiction movies, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was also notorious for, shall we say, the underperforming nature of its efforts. It's as if producers looked at the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man and thought, how about an Incredible Growing Woman? And lo!, a cult legend was born. Although it's barely over an hour long, they keep you waiting to see the heroine in all her enormous glory, and the larger part of the running time is divided between a soap opera that Douglas Sirk could have got his teeth into and more traditional business for this decade's genre adventures with aliens and spaceships in the desert.
Nancy doesn't start growing right away, she has to get back home to set up the fraught relationship between her and Harry. As we see in a scene set in the local drinking tavern, Harry is more interested in his mistress Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers, supremely sleazy as the bad girl) who is cajoling him into finding a way to leave Nancy but still keep a lion's share of her fortune. When a cop comes in to tell him that his wife is in a hysterical state, this would seem to be perfect opportunity to have her admitted to the asylum for a very long time, and both schemers relish the thought. Poor alcoholic Nancy is so messed up that she believes she still needs Harry around, which will prove to be not only her downfall but his as well. However the most pressing thing on her mind remains proving that she hasn't been hallucinating, so she drags Harry out into the desert for a scout around the following evening.
And what do you know? They stumble upon the glowing globe and the alien (Michael Ross) is revealed to be a bald titan wearing a skimpy tunic with a bull design on it, for reasons unexplained. He gets the diamond this time, and Nancy is abandoned by Harry who thinks she's had it. However, just as he is packing to leave with Honey, the police catch up with him: they've found his wife on the roof of her home, and she's in a coma. As I say, it takes a while for her to turn gigantic thanks to cosmic rays or whatever, but when she does, often represented by a large rubber hand swinging into view, it's as if the filmmakers have hit upon an incredibly potent female empowerment metaphor quite by accident. Poor special effects render Nancy's rampage risibly unconvincing, but Hayes' glacial, classical look, quite opposed to the booms of "Harry!" on the soundtrack, impress despite themselves as she tears off roofs and hits power lines in superbly wacked out imagery. I can't accept that writer Mark Hanna thought he was scripting anything other than a gimmicky monster movie, but those final scenes are a heady mix of the hilarious and the sexually provocative. Music by Ronald Stein.