Laugh if you want at the shrieking title, but the movie itself is a wonder--the most cosmic and visionary of '50s sci-fi films, and the flip side of Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life as an expression of the Fifties male fear of becoming small, insignificant and emasculated. Grant Williams plays the hero, reduced by a strange mist and a dusting of insecticide to a Ken-sized pocket warrior--prey for the family cat and a hungry spider in a dollhouse-scaled surrealist doomscape. But in a staggering ending, the movie makes a leap into the realm of metaphysics as the hero becomes infinitesimal, and hence infinite: "The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet--like the closing of a gigantic circle." The words are those of the legendary Richard Matheson, who adapted his own novel; Jack Arnold directed, and this free screening features an interview taped specially for the occasion by staffer Bill Chamberlain with Arnold's daughter Susan, now the producer of films such as 13 Going on 30 and Drillbit Taylor. You can find the podcast online at library.nashville.org.
Sat., July 11, 2 p.m., 2009