The Neanderthal Man (1953)
The Neanderthal Man is a 78-minute, 1953 American black-and-white science fiction film produced independently by Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen, as Global Productions Inc., from their own original screenplay.
It starred Robert Shayne, Richard Crane and Joyce Terry, was directed by E. A. Dupont, and was originally distributed in the United States by United Artists Corp. Beverly Garland, in a supporting role, appears here in her first feature film under her new stage name (previously she went by the name of Beverly Campbell and made her screen debut as a supporting actor in the 1949 film noir classic, D.O.A.)
The film’s working title was Madagascar. Production began in early December 1952 at Eagle-Lion Studios in Los Angeles. The film was released in the USA on 19 June 1953 and in Spain and Brazil at unknown dates. Three minutes was trimmed from its running time when it opened in the UK, reducing time from 78 minutes to 75 minutes. Stuntman Wally Rose was the man in the Neanderthal Man mask, not Robert Shayne.
The Neanderthal Man was not well-received by critics in 1953, when it was mentioned at all. According to the “Review Digest” in the 1 August 1953 issue of BoxOffice magazine, the movie was rated “fair” by Film Daily, Harrison’s Reports and BoxOffice itself.
The Hollywood Reporter rated it as “very poor.” The movie had not been reviewed by Variety, Parents’ Magazine and The New York Daily News some six weeks after its release. In BoxOffice’s “Feature Review,” the anonymous reviewer wrote that “the film lends itself particularly on midnight ‘spook show’ programs.”
The reviewer went on to say that it “should qualify for duty as a supporting attraction in most bookings” and that the “picture can be played with an assurance of adequate acceptance.” Deborah Del Vecchio quotes The Hollywood Reporter review, which calls the film “an overlong, dull conversation piece.”
“It was unquestionably a cheap and rapidly made film,” writes Warren, “and Dupont brought none of the inventiveness to it that other directors who worked on equally shaky conditions applied to their films.
The picture is unimaginative, dull and ponderous ….”Similarly, Hardy says that “DuPont, a minor talent in the best of circumstance, could bring no innovation” to the “cliched” script. And the reviewing division of the Catholic News Service for the United States Council of Catholic Bishops called The Neanderthal Man a “horror clunker” with “stylized violence and hokey menace.” USCCB rated it “A-II,” acceptable for “adults and adolescents,” but not children.