The first Godzilla was an $800,000 movie. The largest of any Japanese movie budget at the time. It was very serious and a meaphor for the destruction and suffering of the people after Hiroshima and the fire bombing that occurred just 10 years before. Thusly you see a lot of temple praying scenes.
The name of the monster was 'Gojira'. Go= gorilla. Kujira = whale. So, gorilla whale = Gojira. But hard to pronounce for Americans. A USA producer bought it, hired Raymond Burr for only 4 days, filmed perfectly matching scenes in Hollywood, and changed the name to Godzilla.
Raymond Burr was not in the original movie, but top actors from Japan including the leader of 'The Seven Samurai'. Now you can get the double DVD with the original Japanese version with English sub-titles, or the US version with Burr in it and in english. Later Burr appeared in 'Godzilla 1985'.
When you watch it again and realize that all the Burr scenes were done later you will be impressed with how he is cut into the movie. He's often just observing events with Japanese extras behind him to match the scenes that were already taken. But it fits because he plays a reporter.
In the hospital where he is injured and talking to the woman. It was originally the woman talking to a Japanese actor. Burr was flawlessly inserted. And this was before CGS. Fooled me, even as an adult.
For the US version of 'Godzilla', James Hong (Chinatown) and Samee Tong (Bachelor Father) did seven voices each on it, along with one actress.
The original version had a strong anti-nuclear message, but was watered down in the US version, not because of politics, but because of story pace. The US version was 80 minutes, while the original was 95 minutes.
Because of the extensive special effects, 'Gojira' was the first movie in Japan to use story boards, based on Walt Disney's use of them for '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' a year earlier.
Both versions on DVD have informative commentaries.
The final radio broadcast in the film is, "People of the world, Godzilla is dead. Give us strength to re-build our beloved country.'
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