Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman, 1958. 5/10

I don’t think I’ve seen this gem since it was first on TV in the mid-60s. There’s plenty of cool stuff: a unique type of flying saucer, which has the requisite ‘propulsion system’ on display, a remote desert location, with a collection of hick locals, a less-than-jolly giant alien, the giantism an effect of that magic elixir, radiation, and even some references to worldwide ‘sightings’ of the spaceship.

What messes it up for me is the plot; also the tone seems off. If you ditch all the giant stuff, it might just make a decent low-rent crime drama. Selfish jerk and girlfriend scheme to get his wife’s money by bumping her off. Maybe instead of growing into a giant–thanks to her alien connection–suppose the wife just goes nuts? That possibility is hinted at; and then she sets about turning the tables on both Harry and Honey.

The alien giantism deal just becomes a convenient means for Nancy to get her revenge without filling out her role dramatically. On the other hand, as straight sci-fi, you could add more alien scenes, maybe using some of the other locations mentioned, to build up the suspense for the alien’s flying saucer to show up in the desert. As it happens, the majority of the plot revolves around the love triangle. Nancy doesn’t ‘grow’ into her role until the last third of the movie.

The tone issue is more of a problem. Some people enjoy the Barney Fife-like deputy, but he just seems to soak up time. In such a short movie, time is better spent on the sci-fi or love triangle scenes. If he’s got to be there, ok; but let him redeem himself by dying while trying to save someone. The 50-foot woman just brushes him aside as does everyone else.

I agree with others that Harry’s an idiot for taking up with the airhead Honey. His wife, whether crazy, alcoholic, or tall as a light pole, is much more fetching, and has more personality as well. Another silly choice occurs as the sheriff and the servant approach the flying saucer; the sheriff doesn’t listen to the suggestion to get help from outside because “we don’t know what we’re up against”. Isn’t that the best reason to call in help?

The special effects are uneven; the flying saucer, inside and out, is much more convincing than Nancy’s giant hand flailing about in her bedroom, not to mention the alien’s equally cartoonish hand poking around in his first encounter with Nancy. On the other ‘hand’, when Nancy is on the prowl for Harry, her hand looks real in what must be a dollhouse set. All of her destruction at the hotel is pretty well done.

The movie ended too abruptly. I would’ve liked the flying saucer to do a drive-by; there needed to be more closure on the sci-fi plot. Fifty foot tall or not, Nancy’s simply dead. She could’ve killed Harry and Honey by conventional means and somehow still gotten electrocuted without being a giant.

I still enjoyed the movie. Not to be missed for fans of ’50s sci-fi; otherwise, not such a big deal. 5/10.

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