Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

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Movie Info

Filmed in 1954 as Gojira, this grandaddy of all Japanese giant-reptile epics was picked up for American distribution two years later, at which time several newly filmed inserts, featuring Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin, were rabetted into the original footage. In both the Japanese and American versions of Godzilla, the story is basically the same: a 400-foot amphibious monster, brought back to life by underwater nuclear testing, goes on a rampage in a tinker-toy Tokyo. The authorities look on in vain as Godzilla proves more powerful than the army, navy, and air force, while paleontologiist Dr. Yemane (Takashi Shimura) rails against the destruction of a unique scientific find such as Godzilla. Finally, an enigmatic scientist (Akihiko Hirata) reluctantly steps forward to destroy the beast with his newly-discovered creation, the Oxygen Destroyer, dreading all the while that his weapon may unleash a danger even greater than Godzilla. Though Godzilla is apparently disintegrated in the climax, this didn't prevent Toho Studios from grinding out an endless series of sequels with the title character becoming less destructive and more lovable with each subsequent film. Hampered by a low budget which precluded stop-motion animation, special-effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya was forced to rely upon an actor (Haru Nakajima) in a rubber Godzilla suit. Incidentally, the name "Gojira", a combination of "gorilla" and "kujira", is Japanese slang for "big clumsy ox" and was allegedly the nickname of one of the Toho stagehands.
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Art House & International , Classics , Horror , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Vestron Video

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Cast

Raymond Burr
as Steve Martin
Takashi Shimura
as Dr. Kyohei Yamane
Momoko Kochi
as Emiko Yamane
Akira Takarada
as Naval Salvage Officer Hideto Ogata
Akihiko Hirata
as Dr. Daisuke Serizawa
Fuyuki Murakami
as Dr. Tabata
Sachio Sakai
as Reporter Hagiwara
Toranosuke Ogawa
as President of Nankai Shipping Company
Ren Yamamoto
as Masaji
Takeo Oikawa
as Chief of Emergency Headquarters
Miki Hayashi
as Chairman of Diet Committee
Seijiro Onda
as Mr. Oyama/Member of Parliament
Toyoaki Suzuki
as Shinkichi
Kokuten Kodo
as Gisaku
Frank Iwanaga
as Security Officer Tomo Iwanaga
Kin Sugai
as Miss Ozawa/Member of Parliament
Tadashi Okabe
as Reporter Killed in Tower
Ren Imaizumi
as Radio Operator
Junpei Natsuki
as Power Substation Engineer
Kenji Sahara
as Man aboard Ship
Ryosaku Takasugi
as Godzilla
Katsumi Tezuka
as Godzilla/Hagiwara's Editor
Haruo Nakajima
as Godzilla/Newspaperman
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Critic Reviews for Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (3)

Granddaddy of all Japanese monster films.

Full Review… | April 7, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It's hard not to chuckle at the fiftieth cutaway to an oddly passive Burr after watching a scene from the Honda original, but this cut shouldn't be dismissed either.

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
Movie Metropolis

Compared to the "Japoteurs" propaganda that was barely a decade out, it's an astonishing leap forward.

Full Review… | October 10, 2011
Suite101.com

Giant-monster drama is stiff, dated but still a classic.

Full Review… | September 14, 2010
Common Sense Media

It looked really good when I was in grade school. Now it's beyond retro.

October 15, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

How could you not love the lizard?

December 24, 2003
Blunt Review

Audience Reviews for Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

½

This debased Americanized version of the original Japanese film, re-edited to include Raymond Burr as a reporter, is relatively well made but full of inconsistencies, bad re-dubbing and terrible exposition, with him annoyingly narrating all the time what we can easily see.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

This is the Americanized version of the original Godzilla film. While not a terrible piece of cinematic entertainment, I felt rather let down, and suspect (since I haven't actually seen it) that the Japanese original (which came out two years before this one) is probably far better. The story (if you need to know it), concerns a giant reptiallian creature who emerges from the sea surrounding Japan and raises all manner of hell and devastation. In this version, it's told in a documenatry style format and is presented from the view of an American journalist in Japan named Steve Martin. He was only passing through Japan for some fun while headed to Cairo for business, but gets stuck there after the giant monster starts attacking. I kinda liked the format here, though research tells me that the big differences between this version and the original is that this one takes footage from the original and splices new footage of Raymond Burr as Steve Martin into it. Also, this version is shorter and a bit more PC as a way of making it more watered down for American audiences. The biggest changes being dubbing it into English, and removing all references to the atomic attacks at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the firebombing of Tokyo. Okay, so maybe at the time people worried about appeasing WWII veterans, so they removed some material to ease the guilt or whatever. I don't like that because I've always found Godzilla to be fascinating because it's about the byproducts of nuclear horror from a country who experienced actual nuclear horror and devastation firsthand. Removing the references and showing Japan struggling in the aftermath of a huge disaster (but at the hands of a fictional monster) lessens some of the emotional impact, as well as the effects of history on the public conscience. All that scholarly rambling aside, this is still an okay movie though, like I said, the original version is probably far better. Unlike some of the later films though, this one comes off as far more scary and serious, with a more somber tone, aided by the grainy black and white cinematogrpahy and dramatic music.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The definitive monster movie, Godzilla (or Gojira as it's known in Japan) has not aged perfectly, but it's still incredibly fun and exciting 56 years later. This movie could never be matched by any other monster movie, not even by the countless sequels and remakes it spawned. If you're looking for some campy destructive fun, this is the movie to watch.

Joey Shapiro
Joey Shapiro

Super Reviewer

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