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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

OK, I See The Monster Spider But Where's Clint?

Isn't there supposed to be truth in advertising?

I caught the 1950s creature feature, Tarantula, on the boob tube the other day, courtesy of the This TV network.  It's one of the giant insect movies from that period like Them! (giant ants) and The Preying Mantis (guess giant what).

In a giant insect movie something -- usually radiation -- transforms an ordinary squishable bug into a carnivorous colossus on the loose.  Tarantula is one of the better big bug films but it does have its stupid moments.  For example, take the bedroom scene with the pulchritudinous Mara Corday who portrays a college student majoring in biology (how appropriate).   The giant arachnid is leering through her bedroom window at night, his fangs pressed against the glass.  Please note the monster's glowing eyes are about the size of Mac Truck tires.

Of course, as our heroine is retiring for the evening, she doesn't notice a 30-story Peeping Tom ten feet away emitting a weird insect sound and crunching up the ground outside.  So while genetics has blessed her with the beauty of a goddess, she ended up with the observational powers of a box of rocks.

Mara's co-star is John Agar who made a number of other sci fi/monster films.  But after the commercial breaks, what star did This TV feature when IDing the movie with banners at the bottom of the screen?  Clint Eastwood.


As one movie reviewer observed, don't blink or you'll miss Clint's very brief appearance at the end of the movie.  The Air Force calls out its jets to stop the mutant tarantula.  Clint portrays the squadron leader who takes out the monster with napalm.  (Maybe his character was practicing for the upcoming Vietnam War.)  With his face covered with an oxygen mask, Clint's recognizable more for his voice than his visage.  By my estimate his total screen time is 15 seconds, if that.

I wonder how many Eastwood fans unfamiliar with this movie got suckered into watching the whole thing and were so distracted by the strafing napalm action that they didn't notice their hero?  Clint's name doesn't even appear in the credits.  At least his bit role in this project prepared him for portraying tough characters in cop and western films that established him as a Hollywood star.

Hey, you want to really see Clint in a monster movie?  Check out Revenge of the Creature in which he has a small role as a lab technician.  Clint as a scientific brainy type?  Well, it worked for Mara Corday in Tarantula.


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