The Hollywood Imagination

The Hollywood Imagination

The following item is reprinted, with permission, from the English monthly Twentieth Century, where it appeared as a note by its editor. We think it an interesting comment on an aspect of American life as seen by an English observer.-Ed.

ATOMIC RADIATION CONTINUES to make history. Last spring one learned that it had got under the skins of some luckless Japanese fishermen anchoring within range of the H-bomb experiment. Now i: is shown to have seeped into the skulls of some enterprising Hollywood producers. Them, a film currently showing in London, is art’s latest tribute to the malign power of science. Its theme, if not its execution, is worthy of Jules Verne, grandfather of science fiction. We are shown a strength of the New Mexican desert swarming with giant creatures who can, and do, crush human beings in their mandibles after descending upon them to the accompaniment of a shrill, ear-splitting whine curiously reminiscent of air-raid warnings. They are Ants grown to monstrous size through a genetic mutation brought about by the first atomic explosion in New Mexico nine years ago. Led by their Queen Ants — winged monsters who successfully attack a U.S. destroyer on the high seas-they swarm over the American continent, spreading terror and destruction among Government officials and scientists removed to shield the public from the awful truth. Finally they are cornered — in the sewers of Los Angeles. not far from the film capital itself-and taken into custody by Amv detachments equipped with machine-guns and flame-throwers. The Nest is destroyed: the great scientist and his daughter. who have led the watchful FBI sleuth to the Nest, are able to pronounce that the last Queen has been killed, and that no eggs are left from which successors might be hatched. The danger is over. It has been a narrow escape for America and for the world: we have heard the professor tell a high-level conference of generals and admirals ir. Washington that these Ants are capable, given a few more years in which to propagate their kind, of making life impossible for the human race.

It does not take long, in watching this horror to end all horrors, to realize that, like other recent Hollywood offerings, it carries a Message. The Message is: trust the FBI and watch out for deadly monsters who infest America. The Ants in fact are Reds. We are told by the professor that they are highly organized, adept at social co-operation, warlike and destructive, and quite capable of battling mankind for control of the earth. The air attack on the destroyer certainly seems well planned: there is a touch of Pearl Harbor about it. And the Nest in the sewers of Los Angeles. with all the chief monsters sitting in committee before the Army bursts in and wipes them out, might have come out of a spy thriller. At any moment one expects to hear the professor launch into a peroration about our threatened liberties. It need hardly be added that the monsters...


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