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  Gorgo London Leviathan
Year: 1961
Director: Eugène Lourié
Stars: Bill Travers, William Sylvester, Vincent Winter, Christopher Rhodes, Joseph O'Conor, Bruce Seaton, Martin Benson, Maurice Kaufman, Basil Dignam, Barry Keegan, Tommy Duggan, Howard Lang, Dervis Ward, Nigel Green
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: A salvage vessel off the coast of Ireland is investigating a sunken ship which promises to present the scavengers led by Joe Ryan (Bill Travers) and Sam Slade (William Sylvester) with a tidy fortune. However, there's a strange effect occuring in the seas nearby which is boiling the water over a large area, and just as Sam is about to venture down and save Joe who is diving, Joe surfaces and clambers aboard. As he does, a huge volcano erupts from the ocean, spouting lava - it seems like a lucky escape, but the incident has brought more than a few odd-looking fish to the attention of the crew...

Yes, because Gorgo is named after the giant lizard title character, and it is he who is brought up by that undersea disturbance, initially to wreak havoc on the nearby island. If Konga was Britain's answer to King Kong, then this was its answer to Godzilla, and indeed had been originally planned as a co-production between the King Brothers and the Japanese Toho studio, home of the most famous giant lizard of them all. Yet it could also be seen as a remake of director Eugène Lourié's previous two monster movies.

I don't know why expert art designer Lourié, in three of his four directorial outings, became stuck making the same film thrice, but that's what he did and after The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Giant Behemoth, he returned to the material, only with a change in finale brought about by his daughter being distressed at the somewhat conclusive ending for the creature in his first film. Another alteration was that this time around the production would be in colour, so we could see the green hue of the lizard hide and the flames it causes in its rampage.

With Travers aboard, from some angles Gorgo looks like his first be nice to the animals feature, a predecessor to Born Free, Ring of Bright Water and suchlike, only here his Joe is less understanding towards the gigantic wildlife he and Sam capture. After they have the dinosaur and are taking it to London for exhibiting in a carnival - no scientific research for these chaps, there's not enough money in it - we become aware that the sixty-five foot tall creature might not have been entirely alone in its ocean lair. In fact, Gorgo is an infant and his angry mother, who happens to be two-hundred feet tall, is now hot on his trail.

All this is a way of setting up the expected mayhem for the final half hour, where Gorgo is the subject of a rescue mission by his massive mumsy, an unusual streak of sentimentality in a genre that was more accustomed to letting the mass destruction speak for itself. To appeal to the kiddies in the audience there's a little Irish boy (Vincent Winter) as our hero because the adults are curiously unsympathetic, architects of their own ill fortune, although that doesn't explain why the Irish boy has a distinctive Scottish accent. The action is well staged for its budget, with the requisite landmarks tumbling before the mean, green mother, but the main novelty stems from this being a rare British example of this science fiction staple. Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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