Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of massive, pissed off women and dismissive would-be murdering man-babies, y’all!
I’m cracking straight on with this one as I have a lot of thoughts and quite a bit of love for the main character, Nancy Fowler Archer from this quirky fifties classic. I had the poster on my wall for years as an early twenty-something and now I can say I’ve actually seen the film too (Look, I had better things to do then)!
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
When an abused socialite grows to giant size because of an alien encounter and an aborted murder attempt, she goes after her cheating husband with revenge on her mind.
Nancy Fowler Archer (Allison Hayes) is a socialite with the one of the worst husbands in cinematic history. She may be filthy rich and hot as hell but Harry Archer (William Hudson) has his eye on a new (and younger) prize, Miss Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers).
Harry’s already had Nancy committed to an institution once and lives to send her back there so he can carry on with Honey and keep his grubby, lazy mitts on his wife’s cash. It’s the oldest story in the book and a pile of bullshit, but still for some reason Nancy loves her husband. If you’re here for empowerment, particularly in the first half of this remarkably short feature, remember this is a 1950’s film.
One night after a party, I’m thinking works do because I believe Honey is an employee at wherever Harry works (cliché alert!) but who knows really? All I do know is that Nancy leaves early and bumps into a satellite/gigantic bald man in the desert who tries to make a grab for the enormous diamond hanging around her neck with his monster hand.
She gets away but is quite shaken when she arrives back at the party looking for her husband. Harry, predictably, is nowhere to be found (although we all know he’s deeply ensconced in Honey’s cleavage) and the cops don’t believe Nancy given that she’s got form. They’re actual dicks about it, actually.
Later, at home, the couple argue about Honey but Nancy concedes that she still loves her man. She also tells him about the giant and he pretends to believe her so he can get her off his back. Harry is a prize wanker but Honey is pretty much the mastermind behind all his dastardly plans. His Lady Macbeth, if you will. Girl Power in this scenario is non-existent I’m afraid, so this movie is ripe for a contemporary remake (I haven’t seen it yet but I don’t know how feminist Daryl Hannah’s version is).
Anyway, Nancy gets fucked off with people not believing her story about the giant so she drags Harry into the desert, and lo and behold they bump into the big fella again. This time when he makes a grab for Nancy, Harry leaves her for dead, the cowardly little shit. That’s going to come back and bite you in the arse, mate, seriously.
I’ll avoid going at this scene by scene but from here Nancy begins to undergo some dramatic change, for she isn’t dead at all, quite the opposite in fact. Also, I don’t really understand the giant’s motivation, though it does point to diamonds that power his satellite/spaceship. Obviously.
I must do a little shout-out to probably the only decent male in this film, Nancy’s man-servant Jess Stout (Ken Terrell) who gets into a scuffle with Harry when he comes home without his wife. It’s the greatest man on man fight since Women in Love (1969) and Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) (not really). But he seems to be about the only person looking out for the vulnerable Nancy and I like that.
Something I really do not like is the fact that the doctors and police looking after Nancy decide she needs to be drugged and fucking chained up at all times, just because what, she’s crazy? I mean, for fuck’s sake, she might be fifty foot but are elephant syringes really necessary?
Maybe chain up Honey the femme fatale who’s hellbent on MURDERING Nancy? She’s the true liability. Anyway, that attempt fails when it is revealed that Mrs Archer is larger than life and once she wakes up, she’s fucking fuming and it’s about time, frankly.
I’m going to leave this here as Nancy takes on the world as a newly anointed giantess, taking down power lines and climbing the Empire State building whilst swatting away Apache helicopters. Kidding. I wish.
It’s not quite as dramatic as all that and the ending is bitter sweet. I had hoped Nancy would realise her power as the Queen of the World and sashay as far away from her dead-beat husband as her skyscraper length legs could carry her but it’s not like that. It’s not like that at all.
So, while men are awful, at least we can admit that everyone here is the pits, everyone besides the butler, our heroine and the giant, who seems all too pure for this world. This film is fine and fun but it’s not very deep, it’s not very empowering really when it comes down to it. Sure, it’s fun when horrible people get squished but at what cost? WHAT COST?
I’d also have liked more carnage from Nancy the giant. Like, fun destruction that wasn’t so solely concentrated on vengeance. I mean, get the fuckers, yes but give us more,girl! Also, I know I keep banging on about feminism and empowerment but I do think, for a film made in 1958, that this is taking a stab at that, even if it does fall short.
3/5. Less piss weak man action and more smashing shit up would have been better.
What does my Queen Jillian think? Would she murder this one dead, or go on a mad rampage with it (in the good way)? Find out here. ❤