Exciting news of monstrous proportions: A new restoration of classic “Godzilla: The Japanese Original,” which spawned six decades of sequels, imitations and remakes, is set to debut April 12 at the fifth TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. It then gets a national release from Rialto Pictures, kicking off at New York’s Film Forum, April 18-24.
Originally released stateside in 1956 as “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” Ishiro Honda’s masterwork suffered from an atrociously cut, dubbed and re-edited version that inserted American actor Raymond Burr into the action. Only one hour was used of the original’s 98 minute running time.
Burr does not appear in the original, uncut version, which has an all-Japanese cast including Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura (“The Seven Samurai”). With special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, “Godzilla: The Japanese Original” is much darker in tone, with the monster working as a clear metaphor for nuclear menace.
It became Toho Studio’s #1 box office hit of 1954, and had such worldwide success that the company has since produced nearly 30 sequels and remakes. (In terms of Hollywood remakes: Roland Emmerich directed the bad 1998 version; meanwhile, Warner Bros. new “Godzilla” reboot is hitting theaters May 16.)
Criterion put out "Godzilla" on Blu-ray in 2012. Check out their "Three Reasons" video below; it will cement your plans to catch this one in theaters.