Filming the Creature from the Black Lagoon in Florida
One of the enduring Creature Features of the fifties became part of the cult following of Universal Pictures Monster movie lore joining “The Mummy” (1932), “The Wolfman” (1941), “Frankenstein” (1931) and “Dracula” (1931).
The Producer’s inspiration was “Beauty and the Beast” (1946), as scientists working in the Amazon discover a creature half-man, half-fish that takes a shine to a female crew member. The monster swims beneath her like an underwater stalker, a very creepy scene.
Director Jack Arnold said the film plays upon a basic fear that people have about what might be lurking below the surface of any body of water. “You know the feeling when you’re swimming and something brushes your legs down there, it scares the hell out of you.”
Similar to another Universal film, “Jaws” also had the same body count for humans in the film.
The Gilman was the most physically powerful of all the Universal Monsters, possessing strength that allows him to flip vehicles and crush skulls and regeneration that could allow him to survive serious injuries similar to some of the Marvel heroes.
Rico Browning a local Florida professional diver and underwater photographer impressed the director as he had the capability to hold his breath for up to 4 minutes and became the Gilman.
Browning said they filmed his scenes in the winter time and it was pretty cold. “The crew felt sorry for me so somebody offered a shot of brandy, and pretty soon they were dealing with a drunk creature.
Browning once had to make an emergency bathroom visit while filming a scene. Breaching the water in full costume next to an unsuspecting mother and her young daughter on the nearby shore, they took off and that was the last anyone saw of them.
The Gilman costume was discarded by Universal after production had finished on the third film and were later recovered from the studio dumpster by a janitor who thought they would make a great Halloween costume for his son.
Originally produced in 3D Universal would make two sequels “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).
Rico Browning was the creature on all three films and later created the hit 1964 TV series “Flipper” which he also wrote and directed.
This was the first film that Stephen King remembered watching.
David Garland FL Jacksonville Jun 05, 2023 Back in Time Movies Nostalgia
Location: Jacksonville, FL
David Garland Jun 05, 2023
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