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The Monster that Challenged the World
Alternate Title: The Jagged Edge
Director: Arnold Laven (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1957
Premiere Information:   San Francisco opening: 14 Jun 1957
Production Date:   began early Sep 1956 at Hal Roach Studios
Duration (in mins):   83-84
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Cast:   Tim Holt (Lt. Cmdr. John "Twill" Twillinger)  
    Audrey Dalton (Gail MacKenzie)  
    Hans Conried (Dr. Jess Rogers)  
    Barbara Darrow (Jody Sims)  
    Casey Adams (Tad Johns)  
    Harlan Warde (Lt. Bob "Clem" Clemens)  
    Gordon Jones (Josh Peters)  
    Mimi Gibson (Sandy MacKenzie)  
    Marjorie Stapp (Connie Blake)  
    Jody McCrea (Seaman Fred Johnson)  
    Eileen Harley (Sally)  
    Dennis McCarthy (George Blake)  
    Bob Beneveds (Mort Beatty)  
    Michael Dugan (Clarke)  
    Mack Williams (Capt. Masters)  
    William Swan (Seaman Howard Sanders)  
    Charles Tannen (Wyatt)  
    Byron Kane (Coroner)  
    Hal Taggert (Mr. Davis)  
    Gil Frye (Deputy Scott)  
    Dan Gachman (Deputy Brewer)  
    Milton Parsons (Mr. Dobbs)  
    Ralph Moody (Old gatekeeper)  

Summary: At a U.S. Navy research base near California’s Salton Sea, a four-hundred square mile body of salt water in the middle of an arid desert, top-secret atomic experiments are conducted. A parachute testing unit is also based there and flies daily missions over the sea. Shortly after an earthquake centered below the Salton Sea occurs, two seamen, on a regular mission, wait in a launch to pick up a parachutist when he lands in the water. On this occasion, when they reach the parachute they find no trace of the man. One seaman dives into the water to search for the jumper but does not resurface. The other seaman reacts in horror to the sudden appearance of a giant creature. When the seamen fail to respond to radio messages, naval intelligence officer John “Twill” Twillinger, recently assigned to the base, is alerted and sets out with Lt. Bob “Clem” Clemens to investigate. They find only the body of the one seaman on board and a strange mucus-like substance smeared over the boat. Suddenly, the mangled body of the parachutist floats to the surface. Twill orders an autopsy of both bodies and takes a sample of the substance to Dr. Jess Rogers at the base’s laboratory. While waiting for Rogers’ evaluation, Twill meets Rogers’ secretary, Gail MacKenzie, and her young daughter Sandy. The next day, at the county morgue, the coroner tells Twill and Sheriff Josh Peters that both bodies had been drained of blood and water and that the seaman probably died of a fear-induced stroke. Twill then asks Peters to post a complete ban on swimming in the sea. However, that night, a young couple, unaware of the ban, go swimming and are subsequently reported missing. Twill sends two divers, Tad Johns and George Blake from Rogers’ lab, to swim to the bottom of the sea and take radioactivity readings. All appears normal until the divers descend into a cave underneath the sea bottom and find a large, egg-like object that is radioactive. The egg is hauled up to the launch and as Johns and Blake prepare to join it, Blake is captured by a creature and killed. On board the launch, Johns is recounting what happened below when the creature rears up out of the water and threatens them. After Twill drives it away by destroying one of its eyes with a pole, they return to the base where the egg is placed in a controlled temperature water tank. While Rogers consoles Blake’s widow, Gail tells Twill that she, too, is a widow, having lost her pilot husband two years earlier. Within a few hours, Twill mounts an expedition to destroy all the creatures and their eggs using underwater explosives. Meanwhile, Rogers explains to military officials his belief that the creatures are descendents of the historically documented Kraken family of water mollusks. Rogers also states that the earthquake probably caused a fissure in the sea’s floor through which radioactive water seeped, fertilizing the eggs and causing the creatures to become enormous. Although the cave will be sealed, Rogers fears that some of the creatures could escape into the nearby All-American Canal and threaten the entire world. Although an around-the-clock patrol of the canal system is ordered, two more people are killed. The next day, at a local museum, Twill and Peters attempt to find old maps of underground rivers in the area, but are unsuccessful. After a creature strikes again, killing a gatekeeper at one of the canal’s locks, all the locks are closed in an attempt to isolate and trap it. Soon after, Gail’s young daughter Sandy enters the lab to see some caged rabbits and, thinking that she is turning up the heat for them, changes the temperature in the water tank. Later, after the museum archivist comes to the command post to deliver an old map of Indian wells, Twill and Rogers survey the mapped area from a helicopter and spot a scum-covered body of water, which they think may contain the creatures. Twill joins Johns on a dive and they locate several dormant creatures, set explosive charges and destroy them. Meanwhile, the egg in the laboratory has hatched, producing a full-size creature, which threatens Gail and Sandy, forcing them to hide in a closet. The creature has almost broken through the closet door when Twill and Rogers return. While Rogers goes for help, Twill diverts the creature’s attention by spraying it with the contents of a fire extinguisher, allowing Gail and Sandy to escape. Twill then contains the creature with a hose of hot steam until three riflemen arrive and kill it. Later, Twill, Gail and Sandy walk off together. 

Production Company: Gramercy Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Arnold Laven (Dir)
  Maurice Vaccarino (Asst dir)
  Harlan Warde (Dial dir)
  Paul Stader (Underwater seq dir)
Producer: Jules V. Levy (Pres)
  Arthur Gardner (Pres)
  Arnold Laven (Pres)
  Jules V. Levy (Prod)
  Arthur Gardner (Prod)
Writer: Pat Fielder (Scr)
  David Duncan (From a story by)
Photography: Lester White (Dir of photog)
  Robert B. Crandall (Cinemacrography by)
  Charles S. Welborn (Underwater seq photog)
Art Direction: James Vance (Art dir)
Film Editor: John D. Faure (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Rudy Butler (Set dec)
Music: Heinz Roemheld (Mus comp and cond)
Sound: Charles Althouse (Sd rec)
  Joel Moss (Sd rec)
  B. F. Remington (Sd rec)
Special Effects: August Lohman (Spec eff created by)
  Edward S. Haworth (Des)
  Paul Eagler (Process cam)
Make Up: Abe Haberman (Makeup artist)
  Olga Collings (Hairdresser)
Production Misc: Kerwin Coughlin (Casting)
  Virginia Mazucca (Prod asst)
  Norman Bishop (Underwater seq tech adv)
  Healthways (Underwater equipment)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Gramercy Pictures, Inc. 11/6/1957 dd/mm/yyyy LP8606

PCA NO: 18376
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Science fiction
Subjects (Major): Atomic power
  Divers and diving
  Military intelligence
  Salton Sea (CA)
  United States. Navy
Subjects (Minor): Canals
  Fire extinguishers
  Mothers and daughters
  Parachutes and parachuting
  Rabbits and hares
  Radioactive substances

Note: This film's working titles were The Jagged Edge and The Kraken . The film's pressbook states that the film was shot around El Centro, the All-American Canal and on the Salton Sea in southeastern California. A 7 Sep 1956 HR news item adds Catalina Island, CA to the locations. The Var review gives the screenplay writer's name as Pat Fiedler, but the onscreen credits list Pat Fielder. A 1 Oct 1956 HR news item adds Joe Hamilton to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   1 Jun 1957.   
Daily Variety   13 Sep 1956.   
Daily Variety   21 May 1957   p. 3.
Film Daily   23 May 1957   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Sep 1956   p. 3, 11.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Oct 1956   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 1957   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   8 Jun 1957   p. 411.
Variety   22 May 1957   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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