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Godzilla Conquers the Globe:
Japanese Movie Monsters in International Film Art

Exhibition Room #1: Main Reading Room

Larger Than Life

C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University, February - December 2004
Curated by Gregory M. Pflugfelder with the assistance of Yoshiko Fredisdorf, Ria Koopmans-de Bruijn, and Derek Lam

Exhibit map, Room #1:

Display Case A

(objects from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder) [As of 10 September 2004, these objects have been moved to Display Case 1 in the Rare Book Reading Room.]

GODZILLA IN NEW YORK

Godzilla, King of the Monsters
opened at Loew's State Theater in Times Square on 4 April 1956, and ran for three weeks (see photograph at right). "Several episodes are banzai-worthy," reported columnist and New York institution Walter Winchell (U.S. pressbook, 1956). Although in the previous year at least one Japanese-language theater in Los Angeles had screened the original version of the film, Gojira (1954), the movie about which Winchell and others raved was an adapted version tailored for U.S. and international audiences by Jewell Enterprises, whose only previous hit was the 1952 Untamed Women ("SAVAGE BEAUTIES WHO FEARED NO ANIMAL... YET FELL BEFORE THE TOUCH OF MEN!"). U.S. director Terry Morse shot a day's worth of new footage, creating a role for Raymond Burr—fresh from a "fine performance as the killer in 'Rear Window' [1954]"—as an American news reporter who happens to be in Tokyo at the time of Godzilla's assault (U.S. lobby card, 1956). New York's first view of Godzilla would not be its last. Kaijû sôshingeki (1968; Destroy All Monsters, 1969) had Godzilla attacking midtown Manhattan from the East River (West German lobby card, 1971). In 1976, the American distributors of Gojira tai Megaro (1973; Godzilla vs. Megalon, 1976) poised the title monsters atop the recently built World Trade Center—even though no such scene appeared in the movie itself (U.S. pressbook, 1976). And in 1998, TriStar Pictures would produce a thoroughly Americanized Godzilla, starring Matthew Broderick, in which the giant lizard makes her (sic) nest in Madison Square Garden.

 

Display Case B

(objects from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder) [As of 10 September 2004, these objects have been moved to Display Case 2 in the Rare Book Reading Room.]

GODZILLA IN THE WORLD

From the very beginning, Godzilla was a global citizen. Within a year of its American debut, Godzilla, King of the Monsters had played on five continents as well as on both sides of the Iron Curtain (French publicity flyer, 1957; Mexican lobby card, 1959; Polish theater program, 1957; Spanish herald, 1957?). It is unclear when the movie was first shown in Africa. Theaters in Tunisia, however, were definitely screening French versions of kaijû eiga by the late 1960s (Tunisian lobby cards, 1967). Kaijûtô no kessen: Gojira no musuko (1967; Son of Godzilla, 1969) is known to have played also in Egypt. A piece of trivia: In the 1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Raymond Burr's character, Steve Martin, is on his way to Cairo on a journalistic mission but gets delayed by the Godzilla crisis during a Tokyo stopover. Perhaps if Martin had made it to Egypt, he would have witnessed the outbreak of another incident of global proportions: the Suez Crisis, which erupted in July of the same year.

 

 

 

 

Display Case C

(objects from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder) [As of 10 September 2004, these objects have been moved to Display Case 3 in the Rare Book Reading Room]

THE TÔHÔ POSSE (I)

Even monsters have friends (not to mention enemies). As the kaijû eiga genre boomed during the 1950s and 1960s, a growing stable of rubbery creatures joined Godzilla in the movie-monster pantheon. The first newcomer was Angiras, a spiny-backed saurian who faced the Big G in the 1955 film Gojira no gyakushû (Gigantis, the Fire Monster, 1959; U.S. lobby card, 1959; French photostory, 1964). U.S. publicists chose to rename Godzilla "Gigantis" when the movie premiered stateside, evidently hoping to create the impression that the movie debuted two new monsters, not just one. In 1956 came the pterodactyl-like Rodan, the first Technicolor kaijû. Japanese know this flying lizard even today as Radon—as in "radiation," the destructive force that originally caused his portentous appearance (Japanese poster reproduction). An alternative etymology derives the dinosaur-bird's name from the prehistoric pteRADON. The film's exporters, possibly fearing that the name Radon could be taken as a criticism of the U.S. atomic-weapons program, changed it by switching the order of the vowels (U.S. lobby card, 1957). In North America, movies like Gigantis and Rodan, the Flying Monster quickly became staple fare for drive-in theaters (U.S. drive-in theater programs [1][2], Florida, both 1959?). One theater owner in the South deemed Rodan appropriate Christmas viewing (U.S. theater program, Florida, 1963?).

 

 

 

Display Case D

(objects from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder) [As of 10 September 2004, these objects have been moved to Display Case 4 in the Rare Book Reading Room.]
THE TÔHÔ POSSE (II)

It was as Rodan, not Radon, that German and other European, as well as Australian and Latin American, viewers came to know the monstrous flying lizard (West German theater program, 1958?). The perennially popular Mothra, who debuted in 1961, was also a creature of many names. Italians called the giant moth Watang (see Poster #11), whereas American promoters dropped Mothra's name entirely from the 1964 feature Mosura tai Gojira, retitling it Godzilla vs. the Thing and giving the behemoth butterfly some rather unlikely tentacles in publicity materials (U.S. lobby card and pressbook, both 1964). The Tôhô universe was also populated by more forgettable creatures, including Hedora the "Smog Monster," introduced in 1971 (U.S. pressbook, 1972). The environmentalist message that this sludgelike mass helped to convey ("Save the Earth" was the movie's rock-anthem theme song) marked a shift away from the antinuclear themes of the 1950s and the critique of commercialism that had dominated the kaijû eiga genre during the 1960s.

Poster #1

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Kaijû daisensô
                     (ENGLISH): Monster Zero
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1965
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 55 x 77 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): Rodan, Godzilla
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Invasione degli Astromostri poster With this 1965 Tôhô feature, Godzilla entered the space race. The Italian two-panel poster depicts Godzilla and Rodan as they are being transported from Earth to "Planet X" encased in transparent spheres and towed by X-ite flying saucers. On the besieged Planet X, the two monsters face the three-headed space dragon Ghidrah. Although the film's director, Honda Ishirô, had previously made several space features at Tôhô, such as Chikyû bôeigun (1957; The Mysterians, 1959), Uchû daisensô (1959; Battle in Outer Space, 1960), and Yôsei Gorasu (1962; Gorath, 1964), Godzilla movies had until this point remained a strictly terrestrial genre. But as the space race got into full swing during the 1960s, it was inevitable that Godzilla would not stay earthbound. The fearsome lizard increasingly assumed a role as earth's defender against interplanetary foes, rather than as humankind's mortal enemy. Kaijû daisensô marked the second foray into the kaijû eiga genre by American actor Nick Adams (presumably the helmeted face on the right); he had already appeared in Tôhô's Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon (1965; Frankenstein Conquers the World, 1966). Only two years earlier, in 1963, Adams received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Twilight of Honor; in 1955, he had costarred with friend James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. After the eclipse of his stateside career, Adams spent the remainder of his life making movies in Japan. He died of an overdose of prescription drugs in 1968.

Poster #2

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Kingu Kongu tai Gojira
                     (ENGLISH): King Kong vs. Godzilla
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1962
POSTER NATIONALITY: United States
YEAR: 1963
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 41 x 81 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): King Kong, Godzilla
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
King Kong vs. Godzilla poster Persisting urban legend has it that two different endings were shot for this movie: one for American audiences, showing King Kong triumph, and one, for Japanese, in which Godzilla emerges the victor. A fun story, but entirely untrue. In the film's climax, both monsters fall into the sea near Mount Fuji. Whereas Godzilla does not resurface—at least until his next movie appearance—Kong swims back to his jungle island. Judging from the iconography of the American poster, U.S. publicists appear to have given the two "mightiest monsters" roughly even odds. In this "colossal conflict" the only clear losers are the people and objects that stand in their path. The U.S. pressbook reminded theater owners: "King Kong is still King after 30 years and Godzilla is the only challenger who ever came near him. Only one look at the poster art is enough to show you that the two together will be the hottest attraction ever to hit your town."

Poster #3

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Kaijû daisensô
                     (ENGLISH): Monster Zero
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1965
POSTER NATIONALITY: France
YEAR: 1967?
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 47 x 63 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTER FEATURED: Ghidrah
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Invasion Planete X poster This French poster publicizes the same film as the Italian poster two spaces to its left (Poster #1). Some compositional elements are the same, including the moon rocket and the flying saucer (note the jagged trail that the latter leaves through space, drawing heavily on comic-book tradition). However, the French artist has chosen to depict not Godzilla and Rodan, who are basically good monsters in this picture, but instead the villainous space dragon Ghidrah. One critic has described the three-headed Ghidrah as the "most vicious of the creatures to populate the [kaijû eiga] genre, possibly because it had no connection with tension within Japan and represented a pure and hostile 'outside.'" The silhouette of the Empire State Building would seem to suggest that Ghidrah is attacking New York. French-designed publicity materials like this poster circulated also in francophone North Africa.

Poster #4

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Uchû daikaijû Girara
                     (ENGLISH): The X from Outer Space
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1967
POSTER NATIONALITY: France
YEAR: ?
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 47 x 63 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTER FEATURED: Girara (Guilala)
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Itoka le Monstre des Galaxies poster 1967 was a boom year for Japanese monster movies, with no less than four studios releasing kaijû features, two of them for the first time. The Shôchiku Company's single entry in the monster race was this film, part of which is set on an international moonbase. Although reports exist that the movie was not theatrically released in the United States, it definitely played in such countries as Australia, Italy, Mexico, Romania, and West Germany. In France, the monster (Girara) was, for obscure reasons, renamed Itoka. The lead actress, Peggy Neal, is barely visible in the bottom left corner of the poster. Neal was a 20-year-old college student and model, one of many quasi-professional performers who made a modest name for themselves in the kaijû eiga genre—largely, one suspects, because of their Caucasian features and atypical willingness to work in Japan. Question: are there really clouds on the moon?

Poster #5

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Ôru kaijû daishingeki
                     (ENGLISH): Godzilla's Revenge
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1969
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1977?
ARTIST: Piovano
DIMENSIONS: approximately 55 x 77 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTER FEATURED: Godzilla?
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)

Il Ritorno di Gorgo poster Among Italian Godzilla posters, this image is among the most powerful. A single claw, reaching down from the sky, conveys the sheer immensity of the monster. But exactly what monster is this? The title of the film in Italian translates as "The Return of Gorgo," referring apparently to the giant sea creature that terrorized London in the 1959 British shocker Gorgo. However, the poster was used to advertise Ôru kaijû daishingeki, the tenth Tôhô release featuring Godzilla. (Interestingly, Godzilla was also dubbed "Gorgo" in the Spanish adaptation of Gojira tai Megaro [1973; Godzilla vs. Megalon, 1976].) Even more puzzling is the roster of names that appear along the bottom edge of the poster. Although "Keny Sahara" (Sahara Kenji) was indeed the star of Ôru kaijû daishingeki, the other three European-sounding names are evidently fabricated. The caption at the top reads, "The atomic defenses of the nuclear powers could not stop it." By the 1960s and 1970s, the kaijû eiga genre and its surrounding publicity materials did not always present nuclear arms in a negative light. The Italian publicist here seems to construe atomic weapons as humankind's best (albeit in this case impotent) defense against its foes, rather than, as the 1954 Gojira had it, the evil force that generated Godzilla in the first place.

Poster #6

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Gojira Ebira Mosura: Nankai no daikettô
                     (ENGLISH): Ebirah, Horror of the Deep
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1966
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1977
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 55 x 77 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTER FEATURED: Godzilla??
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Il Ritorno di Godzilla Sexy poster Although one would have a hard time guessing it from the image, this Italian two-panel poster advertises the same movie as its neighbor around the corner to its right (Poster #7). Neither the gorilla nor the redhead appears in the film; the volcano, too, is an invention of the artist. Nevertheless, the visual impact of the image is undeniable, combining horror and eroticism in the grand King Kong tradition. The revealing outfit of the recumbent woman is a far cry from Fay Wray, but it is relatively tame by the standards of Italian poster art. The poster is one of the most blatantly erotic—as well as one of the most purely imaginative—ever designed for a Japanese monster movie. Most likely, Italian promoters chose the simian imagery in order to profit from the considerable publicity that surrounded Dino de Laurentiis's recently released remake of King Kong (1976).

Poster #7

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Gojira Ebira Mosura: Nankai no daikettô
                     (ENGLISH): Ebirah, Horror of the Deep
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1966
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1968
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 55 x 77 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): Mothra, Godzilla, Ebirah
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Il Ritorno di Godzilla poster One of the strengths of this two-panel Italian poster is its relative faithfulness to the movie it is meant to publicize, which indeed features the three monsters depicted here. In this scene, a deathray-spewing Godzilla and a winged Mothra take on Ebirah, the film's crustacean antihero. The "Ebi" of Ebirah's name can mean either shrimp or lobster in Japanese. The movie being advertised was set in the South Seas, a cost-cutting move that obviated the need to construct elaborate miniature cityscapes for Godzilla and his cronies to stomp on. Such tropical settings, which characterized films featuring Mothra in particular, were distinguished by their stereotypical representations of Pacific Islanders, including the bare-chested natives whom Ebirah has caught here between his pincers. In such infantilizing portrayals of indigenous people (Mothra's home was in fact called "Infant Island") may be detected traces of the prewar propaganda that surrounded imperial Japan's supposed civilizing mission in the South Seas.

Poster #8

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon
                     (ENGLISH): War of the Monsters
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1966
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1969
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 55 x 77 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): Gamera, Gamera?
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Attenzione Arrivano I Mostri poster "Attention! The monsters are arriving!" Even today there are those viewers who favor Daiei's Gamera series over Tôhô's Godzilla cycle. Daiei Studios introduced its alternative G-monster, a flying tortoise, in 1965, nudging its way into the lucrative kaijû eiga market that Tôhô had since 1954 developed almost single-handedly. The "Game" in Gamera's name is related to kame, the Japanese word for turtle. This Italian two-panel poster publicizes the second entry in the Gamera series, which pits the giant shellback against Barugon (not to be confused with Tôhô's similarly named monster Baragon). Rather than portraying the rhinoceros-like Barugon, the artist has chosen to depict twin Gameras swooping down from the sky. The buxom blonde near the bottom right corner of the poster is a typically Italian creative license.

Poster #9

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira
                     (ENGLISH): War of the Gargantuas
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1966
POSTER NATIONALITY: France
YEAR: 1968
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 47 x 63 inches
PRINTING METHOD: lithography
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): Gaira, Sanda
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
La Guerre des Monstres poster Ever since King Kong toyed with a Manhattan subway car in 1933, audiences have enjoyed the spectacle of monstrous creatures who dwarf and destroy all manner of mechanized transportation, threatening to choke the very arteries of modern life. Trains, planes, helicopters, cars, trucks, buses, tanks, ships, space vehicles—none have proved impervious to this symbolic threat. In this French poster, a towering highway interchange represents the fragile infrastructure of modern civilization, all too easily ravaged by catastrophic forces from the outside. The "War of the Monsters" (as the French title has it) pits two simian creatures against each other in a departure from the typically reptilian line-up of Tôhô productions—although granted, even these seeming primates have scales. The poster combines two separate scenes from the movie: one in which the green (bad) and brown (good) gargantuas battle in the middle of Tokyo, and an earlier one in which the bad guy Gaira wrestles a giant octopus at sea. Surf and turf, perhaps? The film featured two Hollywood actors who were currently experiencing a lull in their stateside careers: Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story) and Kipp Hamilton (Good Morning, Miss Dove).

Poster #10

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Ganma sangô: Uchû daisakusen
                     (ENGLISH): The Green Slime
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1969
ARTIST: Di Stefano
DIMENSIONS: approximately 39 x 55 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTER FEATURED: "Green Slime"
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
il Fango Verde poster Iconographic borrowing from both 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Barbarella (1968), produced in the same year as the present film, may be recognized in this Italian poster. The film was a collaboration among Tôei Company (Japan), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (U.S.A.), and Lum Film (Italy). It constituted Tôei's principal foray into the kaijû eiga genre, aside from Kairyû daikessen (1966; The Magic Serpent, not theatrically released in the U.S.), which was based on a nineteenth-century kabuki play, and Taekoesu Yonggari (1967; Yongary, Monster from the Deep, 1989), coproduced in South Korea, a country that has for many decades banned Japanese monster movies. The story unfolds in a Kubrick-like orbiting space station that becomes infested with monocular green creatures similar to the one portrayed in the poster. Yet even the urgency of the situation hardly suffices to explain why the female astronaut in the image (presumably the Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi, a former Bond girl) has dangerously neglected to zip up her spacesuit. The global popularity of high-tech space operas that such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and, especially, Star Wars (1977) helped to usher in contributed significantly to the decline of the low-tech kaijû eiga genre during the 1970s and 1980s.

Poster #11

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Mosura tai Gojira
                     (ENGLISH): Godzilla vs. the Thing
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1964
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1970
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 39 x 55 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED: Mothra? (top), Godzilla (bottom)
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Watang poster It is obvious that the Italian designer had not seen the monster whom Godzilla battles in this film, namely Mothra, a colossal moth. The artist probably worked from American publicity materials, which deliberately hid Mothra's shape in order to whet audiences' curiosity. "CENSORED… behind this panel is 'THE THING.' The Producers of this Motion Picture take this precaution to spare those who cannot take its full horror," read the U.S. tagline (see pressbook in Display Case D). Surely many in the audience would be disappointed to find that "THE THING" was essentially a large butterfly. They ought to have been forewarned, however, for Mothra had already spread her wings on American screens in a previous feature (Mosura, 1961; Mothra, 1962). In the U.S. pressbook for Godzilla vs. the Thing, a ring of tentacles encircles the "censored" shape of Mothra. The Italian artist seems to have run away with this suggestion, envisioning something halfway between an octopus and a flying saucer. For mysterious reasons, Italian distributors renamed the monster Watang. The word has no meaning in Italian, and if anything, sounds vaguely Chinese. By the end of the 1960s, Tôhô had developed a regular stable of imaginary film creatures, so that the Italian subtitle's reference to a "fabulous empire of monsters" was only a slight exaggeration.

Poster #12

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Sora no daikaijû Radon
                     (ENGLISH): Rodan, the Flying Monster
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1956
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1968
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 39 x 55 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTER FEATURED: Rodan
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Rodan il Mostro Alato poster "Rodan, the Winged Monster," reads the Italian title. A favorite poster format for the kaijû eiga has a monster towering over an urban landscape in the background, with frightened humans fleeing toward the viewer in the foreground. This Italian poster offers a rather gruesome example, showing more human carnage than most. The miniskirted (hot-panted?) female at the bottom right provides one indication that the poster art was created for a late-1960s rerelease of the movie, not for the Italian debut of 1958. In Switzerland, some movie theaters used the same publicity materials but superimposed on them a German title: "Flying Monsters from Osaka."

Poster #13

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Kaijûtô no kessen: Gojira no musuko
                     (ENGLISH): Son of Godzilla
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1967
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1969
ARTIST: ?
DIMENSIONS: approximately 39 x 55 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): Kamakirasu, Minya, Godzilla
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Il Figlio Di Godzilla poster If Godzilla had a son, who was the mother? This birds-and-bees question goes unanswered in the eight Godzilla feature. The film's general naïveté is due in part to its target audience: the preteen crowd that had been flocking to see Daiei's Gamera series since 1965. Minya (or Minira, as he is known in Japanese) is more cute than fearsome, although he apparently shares the same radioactive breath as his father. The name of Minya's insect foe, Kamakirasu, comes from the Japanese word for praying mantis, kamakiri (literally, "sickle-cutter"). English dubbers sought to achieve the same effect by calling the oversized bugs "gimantises." Similarly, the monstrous arachnid Kumonga who also appears in the picture (but not in this poster) receives his name from the Japanese word for spider, kumo. "Spiega" is his English-language pseudonym. The searing sun and yellow sky that form a strikingly effective background for the poster hint at the movie's plot, which revolves around a series of weather-changing experiments gone awry.

Poster #14

FILM TITLE (JAPANESE): Kaijû sôshingeki
                     (ENGLISH): Destroy All Monsters
ORIGINAL YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968
POSTER NATIONALITY: Italy
YEAR: 1969
ARTIST: P. Franco
DIMENSIONS: approximately 55 x 77 inches
PRINTING METHOD: offset
MONSTERS FEATURED (LEFT TO RIGHT): Godzilla? (background), Godzilla, King Kong?
(from the collection of Gregory M. Pflugfelder)
Gli Eredi di King Kong poster One of the most striking images in the collection, this giant Italian poster draws heavily on the iconographic legacy of King Kong (1933). Although no ape actually appears in the 1968 film, the top right quadrant of the publicity poster features a towering simian, teeth menacingly bared. The giant ape's appearance echoes the film's Italian title, "The Heirs of King Kong," a canny recognition of the earlier Hollywood movie's influence on international cinema and on giant-monster films in particular. Facing toward the viewer, rather than looking backward like the ape, is Kong's latter-day successor, Godzilla. In another visual reference to King Kong, the monstrous lizard hoists a Fay Wray-like (though in this case brunette) female in midair, seemingly within reaching distance of his razor-sharp teeth and oddly sensuous tongue. Notice the distinctly human, and masculine, contours of the limb that holds her, which contribute to the erotic charge of the image.

SEE MORE OF THE EXHIBITION IN ROOM 2 and ROOM 3

Godzilla (R), all related characters and the character designs are trademarks of Toho Co., Ltd.
© Gregory M. Pflugfelder

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