Chances are when you get too close to a bomb exploding, you will most likely die. There is that one in a billion chance you might become the Hulk, at least in the comics, and it has to be a gamma bomb specifically. The bomb in this move was of the plutonium variety and Colonel Manning did not become the Hulk, but he did get really large. Sadly the big guy could just not be content with being big and had to go all crazy. The Hulk never went crazy – he just got mad.
Starring in the lead role as the Colossal Man was Glenn Lanagan who did a pretty good job of running this way and that, smashing stuff and looking angry while doing so. His part did not require a whole lot of dialogue, but what he had, he delivered well and truly did seem frustrated at times as he kept getting bigger and bigger. His helplessness at the situation seemed genuine and for a low budget science-fiction thriller, he did a better job than most would expect.
As for a low budget, yes it did not seem to have the best special effects of all time, and it really showed as Manning was making his way through Las Vegas and smashing stuff and throwing model cars around. It did work though and was effective enough that it got the point across that Manning was indeed a colossal man. What was more effective though, were the scenes that featured him stationary with tiny props such as the bed, the dresser the book and the phone. That played off the size aspect much better, but in the end, cinematographer Joseph F. Biroc and the director and the man in charge of technical effects, Bert I. Gordon, did a pretty decent job.
Playing opposite Glenn Lanagan was Cathy Davis as Manning’s girlfriend who was quite good playing the second lead. She is a strong woman who does not like being jerked around, neither by the army or her man. When she finally finds out where they are keeping Manning and she sees him for the first time after he has grown so large she is of course quite shocked, but soon grows accustomed to it like it is just another bump in the road they have to get through in their relationship. One of the best scenes is simply she and Manning out for a walk as if nothing is the matter. The size difference is laughable, but the scene itself is adorable.
Rounding out the cast in supporting roles are William Hudson and Larry Thor as the doctors on Manning’s case and the only ones who might stand a chance of helping him. They have no idea what is happening to him or why, but they do know that if they do not stop it, nothing good will come of it.
The Amazing Colossal Man was only one of a number of movies to come out during the 1950s that would feature size-challenged people. Attack of the 50 Foot Woman would be released the following year as would a sequel to this very film called War of the Colossal Beast. There would also be films about people on the opposite side of the spectrum with The Incredible Shrinking Man and Attack of the Puppet People, the latter of which was also directed by this film’s director, Bert I. Gordon. Though this film might not have been as big as its gigantic character, it was still quite entertaining.