The Creature From the Black Lagoon
Release Date: March 5, 1954
Writers: Harry Essex, Arthor Ross
Producer: William Alland
Cinematographer: William E. Snyder
Editor: Ted J. Kent
Music: Henry Mancini, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno
Director: Jack Arnold
Distributor: Universal International
Starring: Richard Carlson as Dr. David Reed
Julia Adams as Kay Lawrence
Whit Bissell as Dr. Edwin Thompson
Ben Chapman ascreature on land
Ricou Browning as creature in water
Time: BW 79 min.
Creature From the Black Lagoon was originally shot and released in 3D. It was one of the first of Universal International's films shot in 3D (It Came From Outer Space in 1953 was the first.)
The majority of the underwater scenes were filmed in Wakulla Springs, Florida, just south of Tallahassee.
This movie's popularity genereated two sequels Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. The former was also filmed in 3D.
The inspiration for Creature From the Black Lagoon came to producer William Alland while at a dinner party during filming of Citizen Kane in 1941. Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about the myth of a race of half-fish, half-human creatures in the Amazon river.
Ten years later Alland wrote notes which he called "The Sea Monster."
The majority of the filming took place at Universal City, California. Ben Chapman who played the creature on land could not sit during the 14 hours he had to wear the body suit. He also couldn't see very well. Once while walking through the grotto carrying Julia, he accidentally scraped her head against the wall.
A geology expedition in the Amazon uncovers fossilized evidence from the Devonian period of a link between land and sea animals in the form of a skeletal hand with webbed fingers. Expedition leader Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) visits his friend, Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), an ichthyologist who works at a marine biology institute. Reed persuades the institute's financial backer, Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning), to fund a return expedition to the Amazon to look for the remainder of the skeleton.
They go aboard a tramp steamer, the Rita, which is captained by a crusty old codger named Lucas (Nestor Paiva). The expedition consists of Dr. Reed, Dr. Maia and Williams, as well as Reed's girlfriend, Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams), and another scientist, Dr. Thompson (Whit Bissell). When they arrive at Dr. Maia's camp, they discover that his entire research team has been mysteriously killed while he was away. Lucas suggests it was done by a jaguar, but the others are unsure. In fact, the camp was attacked by a living member of the same species from which the fossil originated. The creature, curious upon seeing the expedition, investigates the camp site, but when its sudden appearance frightens the members, they attack it, and in response, the enraged creature kills them.
The excavation of the area where Maia found the hand turns up nothing. Mark is ready to give up the search, but David suggests that perhaps thousands of years ago the part of the embankment containing the rest of the skeleton fell into the water and was washed downriver. Lucas says that the tributary empties into a lagoon known as the "Black Lagoon", a paradise from which no one has ever returned. The scientists decide to risk it, unaware that the amphibious "Gill-man" that killed Dr. Maia's assistants earlier has been watching them.
Taking notice of the beautiful Kay, it follows the Rita all the way downriver to the Black Lagoon. Once the expedition arrives, David and Mark go diving to collect fossils from the lagoon floor. After they return, Kay goes swimming and is stalked underwater by the creature, who then gets briefly caught in one of the ship's draglines. Although it escapes, it leaves behind a claw in the net, revealing its existence to the scientists.
Subsequent encounters with the Gill-man claim the lives of two of Lucas's crew members, before the Gill-man is captured and locked in a cage on board the Rita. It escapes during the night and attacks Dr. Thompson, who was guarding it. Kay hits the beast with a lantern; driving it off before it can kill Dr. Thompson. Following this incident, David decides they should return to civilization, but as the Rita tries to leave, they find the entrance blocked by fallen logs, courtesy of the escaped Gill-man.
While the others attempt to remove the logs, Mark is mauled to death trying to capture the creature single-handedly underwater. The creature then abducts Kay and takes her to his cavern lair. David, Lucas, and Dr. Maia give chase to save her. Kay is rescued and the creature is riddled with bullets before he retreats to the lagoon where his body sinks in the watery depths, presumably dead.