The Deadly Mantis (1957)

A Thousand Tons of Horror! From A Million Years Ago …

I watched the 1957 Universal-International science-fiction monster film “The Deadly Mantis” on Svengoolie. It was written and produced by William Alland (The Black Castle, It Came from Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, This Island Earth, Revenge of the Creature, Tarantula, The Creature Walks Among Us, The Mole People, The Land Unknown, The Colossus of New York, The Space Children, The Rare Breed). The film was directed by Nathan Juran (The Black Castle, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Brain from Planet Arous,

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, First Men in the Moon, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf). When a giant, thousand-ton, carnivorous praying mantis is released from its million-year slumber in the frozen Arctic, a determined Col. Joe Parkman,

paleontologist Dr. Nedrick ‘Ned’ Jackson, and photojournalist Marge Blaine, work together to stop its terrible path of deadly destruction. As it walks, leaps, and flies towards Washington DC, the fate of a nation rests on stopping the menacing insect by any means possible.

Cast
  • Stevens, Craig as Col. Joe Parkman – (July 8, 1918 – May 10, 2000) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Deadly Mantis, Killer Bees, TV episodes of McCloud, My Three Sons, To Rome with Love, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Marcus Welby, M.D., Alias Smith and Jones, Medical Center, Owen Marshall, Here’s Lucy, Love, American Style, The Invisible Man, Starsky and Hutch, Gibbsville, Police Woman, and Project U.F.O., The Incredible Hulk, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, David Cassidy – Man Undercover, B.J. and the Bear, Dallas, The Tony Randall Show, Quincy M.E., Happy Days, Fantasy Island, Hotel, The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote
  • Hopper, William as Dr. Nedrick ‘Ned’ Jackson –  (January 26, 1915 – March 6, 1970) The Return of Doctor X, International Squadron, The Maltese Falcon, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Mysterious Doctor, Conquest of Space, The Deadly Mantis, Myra Breckinridge, TV episodes of Gunsmoke, Studio 57, Perry Mason (Paul Drake 157 episodes)
  • Talton, Alix as Marge Blaine – (June 7, 1920 – April 7, 1992) The Man Who Came to Dinner, Rock Around the Clock, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Deadly Mantis
  • Randolph, Donald as Gen. Mark Ford – (January 5, 1906 – March 16, 1993) The Adventures of Hajji Baba, Son of Sinbad, The Deadly Mantis, Topaz (1969)
  • Conway, Pat as Sgt. Pete Allen – (January 9, 1931 – April 24, 1981) Singin’ in the Rain, The Deadly Mantis, Destination 60, 000, TV episodes of You Are There, State Trooper, Tombstone Territory, Laramie, Ripcord, Rawhide, Hondo, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Streets of San Francisco
  • Ames, Florenz as Prof. Anton Gunther – (January 6, 1883 – February 11, 1958) The Deadly Mantis TV episodes of Johnny Jupiter, Mystery Is My Business, The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, The Adventures of Ellery Queen, Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, Blondie, Lux Video Theatre, Telephone time, The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Ghost Farm
  • Smith, Paul as Corporal, Parkman’s Clerk – (February 5, 1929 – March 3, 2006) Screaming Eagles, Funny Face, The Deadly Mantis, Bikini Beach, TV episodes of The Halls of Ivy, Navy Log, Schlitz Playhouse, State Trooper, Cheyenne, Climax!, The Loretta Young Show, Fibber McGee and Molly, Perry Mason, The Gertrude Berg Show, McHale’s Navy, The Andy Griffith Show, Hazel, My Favorite Martian, No Time for Sergeants, Gomer Pyle: USMC, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman, Mr. Terrific, That Girl, The F.B.I., The Doris Day Show (39 ep,), Bewitched (9 ep.), Love, American Style, Alice, The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Harvey, Phil as Lou, Radar Man – (May 11, 1921 – January 5, 2021) Francis in the Haunted House, The Monolith Monsters, The Deadly Mantis, The Land Unknown, Touch of Evil, The Thing That Couldn’t Die, Monster on the Campus, TV episodes of Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, The Tom Ewell Show
  • Simmons, Floyd as Army Sergeant – (April 10, 1923 – April 1, 2008) Francis in the Haunted House, The Deadly Mantis, TV episodes of The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna, Conflict
  • Campbell, Paul as Lt. Fred Pizar – (February 27, 1923 – March 17, 1999) The Great Plane Robbery, The Deadly Mantis, TV episodes of The Gene Autry Show, My Friend Flicka, The Three Musketeers, The Lone Ranger
  • Jay, Helen as Mrs. Farley – (November 2, 1925 – September 18, 1989) She Devil, The Deadly Mantis, Ocean’s Eleven, TV episodes of Death Valley Days, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Leave It to Beaver, Bat Masterson, Dragnet, The Donna Reed Show
  • Miller, Marvin – (July 18, 1913 – February 8, 1985) actor and narrator, Red Planet Mars, King Dinosaur, Godzilla Raids Again, Forbidden Planet, The Deadly Mantis, The Invisible Boy, Sleeping Beauty, The Phantom Planet, Panic in Year Zero!, Invasion of Astro-Monster, MASH, Fantastic Planet, Gremlins, TV episodes of Space Patrol, The Millionaire, The F.B.I, The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, The Green Hornet, The Pink Panther Show, Mission: Impossible, Land of the Lost, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Wonder Woman. Police Squad!

For the special effects a 200-foot x 40-foot long paper-maché model of a mantis, with a wingspan of 150 feet and fitted with a hydraulic system, was built. Two smaller models were also built, one that was 6 feet (1.8 m) long, and another that was 1 foot (0.30 m) long; these were used for the scenes where the mantis walked or flew. Shots of a real praying mantis were used for the scene in which the deadly mantis climbs the Washington Monument.

Opening Narration by Marvin Miller
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Radar. Designed to defend us against attack. Radar stations on mountaintops, in deserts, deep in untracked forests. In a thousand secret and isolated places. Over both oceans, there are radar equipped picket planes. In both oceans, manmade radar islands to guard our flanks. There are the inshore pickets and several hundred miles beyond them are the offshore pickets. Another radar fence
stretches across the long, unfortified border between the United States and Canada. The Pine Tree Radar Fence. And beyond that, still another network
of electronic eyes. The Mid-Canada Radar Fence. Even farther north in the very shadow of the North Pole, this fence, the distant early warning system known as The DEW Line, ready to transmit the first warning signal of a sneak attack across the polar regions. To build the DEW Line, an armada of ships was assembled in the largest and most secretly planned operation since the Normandy invasion. Grinding through treacherous polar ice fields in a desperate gamble against time and weather to land a mountain of supplies, machines, tractors, and men upon the ice. First things first. Level landing strips for heavy cargo planes. Then shelters for the men, for the planes, and for operations. And while some hands are busy laying long pipelines to transport fuel, others build tanks to store it. The work continues day and night around the clock, seven days a week. At long last, the ships are gone. The summer is gone but the job is finished. Red Eagle One, sentinel of the arctic, nerve center of the Dew Line is operational.

During the movie, the Air Force sends out a message to members of the Ground Observer Corps asking for help in spotting the mantis. This was a real group that existed at least since World War II. It was comprised of regular citizens who received basic training in spotting and identifying aircraft but was discontinued in 1958.

The filmmakers utilized stock Air Force footage taken from short films such as “Guardians All”, “One Plane – One Bomb”, and “SFP308.” The footage of the Inuit village was taken from Universal’s 1933 film S.O.S. Iceberg.


The Deadly Mantis Lobby Cards

Click an image to scroll through at full-size


Very good giant monster movie from the 50s. The female star was Alix Talton, born in Atlanta and a Miss Georgia. They had many 1950’s military jets and ships including aircraft carriers 34 and 36 (click on the numbers to get more info on these). I will give this movie 4.1 out of 5.


The Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California – Wednesday, May 1, 1957


Sources

Wikipedia
IMDB
Rotten Tomatoes
Svengoolie
Newspapers

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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