"And what if a weapon such as I now have falls into the wrong hands?"
"Then you have a responsibility which no man has ever faced: you have your fears, which could become reality, and you have Godzilla, which is reality."
~ conversation between Dr. Serizawa and Ogata, respectively.
"Godzilla has turned the heart of Tokyo into a sea of fire."
~ Steve Martin as he watches Godzilla destroy Tokyo.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the 1956 Americanized version of the original Godzilla. New footage featuring Raymond Burr was shot by Terry Morse, and dubbing was done only for scenes where the Japanese characters appear without Burr's character. While the film downplayed the symbolism of the original, it still retains some of Dr. Yamane's lines about the Hydrogen Bomb being responsible for Godzilla's existence. Despite the fact that it runs at twenty minutes shorter than it's Japanese counterpart, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is actually one of the more tastefully done Americanizations of a Godzilla film, especially in regards to the fact that this was the first one. If it weren't for this film, then Godzilla would never have become popular in the west, and this page probably wouldn't exist.Godzilla: King of the Monsters itself is roughly the same story as Godzilla, but told from the perspective of American reporter Steve Martin (played by Raymond Burr). Because of this, a full plot description is unnecessary. However, there are some key differences. In the Japanese version, the story opens and plays out much like a film Noir, slowly building up to the destruction of Tokyo, while the American version opens with the aftermath of Godzilla's attack, and the rest of the movie is told as a flashback, except for the scenes which take place after the attack, as those scenes are left relatively intact with the only major changes being that the dialogue was dubbed into English, and Steve Martin interacts with one or two characters.Most of the sequences cut from the film involve the Japanese version's reporter character, some civilian evacuation scenes before and during Godzilla's first attack, and a portion of the conference held at the Diet after Godzilla's attack on Otojima Island. While Dr. Yamane's statement about Strontium 90 being found in the monster's footprints is left intact, he does not say that Godzilla is the illegitimate child of the H-Bomb as he did in the original, instead saying that Godzilla is an ancient beast that was resurrected due to H-Bomb testing. While this does remove much of the allegorical symbolism found in the original, it still managed to maintain Godzilla's connection to the bomb without being off-putting to American audiences at the time, which was arguably necessary for the film to become so successful in the west.Interestingly enough, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was so successful that it would later be released in Japan as Kaiju O Gojira or Monster King Godzilla. Raymond Burr's character, Steve Martin, would become an influence on reporter characters in later movies, and the success of this film paved the way for future releases of Godzilla movies in not only the United States, but around the world.In 1977, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was recut, colorized, dubbed and released in Italy by up and coming filmmaker Luigi Cozzi to cash in on the release of the 1976 remake of King Kong. Often known as "Cozzilla" and "Psychedelic Godzilla" by fans.The original Japanese film is found on this wiki under the title Gojira. See Godzilla (1998) and Godzilla (2014) for the other One-Word TitleGodzilla films. Also see Italian Godzilla King Of The Monsters for the italian recut.
This film contains examples of the following:
Apocalyptic Log: Subverted. Steve Martin keeps recording Godzilla's attack on Tokyo until the monster destroys the building that he [Steve] is in. It's subverted because Steve survives.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: While Godzilla is 50 meters in the Japanese version, this version overshot his height to 400 feet for whatever reason. Probably to make Godzilla sound even more intimidating.
Breath Weapon: Godzilla's atomic ray. Although it's more of a spray in this film, it is without a doubt the defining example of this trope.
Contrived Coincidence: Unlike the Japanese version, the contrived coincidences are really blatant. Steve Martin somehow conveniently knew where to be at.
Dub Induced Plothole: In the Japanese version, Masaji survives his encounter with Godzilla and washes ashore alive on Odo Island. In this version, he apparently washes ashore dead. Until you see him rubbing his head later when Godzilla arrives on the island. The dub treats this second appearance as a whole other person.
In the beginning of the film, Emiko is seen talking to Steve Martin (Not THAT ONE, mind you), she's not looking at the guy. This gets corrected later, but if only they corrected the beginning scene.
In the Odo Island ceremony sequence, the village elder explaining about Godzilla and how they must appease him, the elder says Godzilla's name in the most (unintentional) creepy disembodied way possible.
In the meeting with Dr. Yamane and the officials, Dr. Yamane says "Gojira", which is Godzilla's Japanese name. This occurs after Godzilla scare the patrons on the partyboat in the Japanese version. In this version, it was shown as an early scene. The Classic Media commentary lampshaded this weirdness.
In the Odo island sequence, Tomo says the villagers are running up the hills so it would be safe. We see a closer shot seeing they're holding weapons on their hands. In the Japanese version, the villagers arm themselves to fight off the creature.
Heroic BSOD: Serizawa has one after realizing the full weight that rests on his shoulders, the context of which is provided in the quote above. Steve Martin also appears to have a more subtle one while watching Godzilla destroy Tokyo. "Nothing can save the city now," indeed.
Heroic Sacrifice: Dr. Daisuke Serizawa. Knowing that if he survives, then someone could capture him and force him to build another Oxygen Destroyer, he chooses to cut his life line and air hose, taking his secrets to the grave.
I Am A Humanitarian: It's mentioned the Odo Island villagers used to give Godzilla virgin sacrifices to appease him, and during his rampage Godzilla chomps down on Tokyo Tower to get at people on it and gnaws on a train car.
In Medias Res: The film opens with the grizzly aftermath of Godzilla's second attack on Tokyo, and the rest of the film is told as a flashback.
Love Triangle: Serizawa, Emiko, and Ogata, although unlike the Japanese version, this version doesn't make it clear if Serizawa knows about Emiko being with Ogata, but since this is told from Steve's perspective, it's only because he doesn't know if Serizawa is aware of this or not. Steve even points out the love triangle to the audience, but he also notes that the triangle will play an important role in the events to come.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Played with. Serizawa clearly has hundreds of research documents and notes for creating the Oxygen Destroyer, but he destroys all of it to prevent the device from ever being used again in the wake of his death and its eventual discovery.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Although it was downplayed significantly, to avoid alienating American audiences at the time, the connection between Godzilla and the Hydrogen Bomb is still present.
Pinball Protagonist: Steve Martin. Understandable, of course; given the way Raymond Burr had to be inserted wholesale into the existing footage, they were extremely limited with the ways he could interact with the other characters, and so he spends most of his time commenting from the sidelines.
Odd Friendship: In this film, Steve Martin is friends with Daisuke Serizawa, who in the Japanese version isn't keen to having an interview with reporters (with good reason). While the film established that the two are friends, they only had one conversation with each other (by phone), and that's it. He never even once tries to speak to him when the final act starts.
Oh Crap: Steve Martin when he realizes that Godzilla is only a few buildings away from him, and is getting closer, before trying to escape. "This is it, George. Steve Martin, signing off!" However, Steve does not make it out of the building in time, although he gets better.
Too Long; Didn't Dub: Subverted. To add realism to the film, the dubbers decided to leave half of the Japanese dialogue, only dubbing scenes into which Steve Martin or his narration could not be inserted. But doing this causes a plot confusion like in the meeting with Dr. Yamane and the government officials.
The actual dubbing wasn't done conventionally, either. The actors (James Hong and Sammee Tong are the only identified performers) simply read their lines at varying speeds in a small office during a recording session that reportedly lasted only five hours, so all of the line-by-line synchronization had to be done in post-production.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: If you believe the whole, "they were engaged when they were children" line from Steve Martin, then Serizawa is, in fact, the unlucky one.