Saturday, August 23, 2014
As part of the Cult Classics Series, the Enzian Theater screened the original 3-D version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon made in 1954. Gina Stanley, the actress that was the Creatures on screen crush was at the screening. In the film she wore a stunning white swimsuit that was quite revealing for its day. Much of the film was shot in Florida swamps. In the film, Gina is screaming every time she sees the creature. The actor inside the creature suit, Ben Chapman, who was 6 foot three, played the creature on land. He was a former Polynesian dancer under contract with Universal Studios. His height and size made him perfect to play the creature. A second actor, then a college student, Ricou Browning, played the "underwater Creature" for the film, and he wore the "underwater Creature suit" for the sequences shot in Florida
Julia had an incredible career as an actress outside the lagoon. She starred opposite Tyrone Power, Glenn Ford, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, and Charlton Heston. Working on a horror film was considered a step down for many actresses so she almost turned the film down. It is ironic that today, this is the film she is most known for.
There was a somewhat disastrous design of the Creature's head, that almost made it into the final film. But a screen test at the eleventh hour convinced the studio head that the look of the creature did not work, and the head was redesigned and became the classic we know and love today. The film was impressive on the big screen and it became clear that many scenes were staged to take advantage of the 3-D effects. After the screening Gina signed autographs and I had her sign my sketch.