The Giant Claw is a 1957 science fiction giant monster film about a giant bird that terrorizes the world. Produced by Sam Katzman under the working title Mark of the Claw, and released by Columbia Pictures, it starred Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday and was directed by Fred F. Sears.
Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow), while engaged in a radar test flight, spots an unidentified flying object. Jets are scrambled to pursue and identify the object but one goes missing. Officials are initially angry at MacAfee over the loss of a pilot and jet over what they believe to be a hoax, but are forced to take his story seriously after several other planes disappear. A gigantic bird "as big as a battleship", purported to come from an antimatter galaxy, is responsible for all the incidents. Mitch, his mathematician girlfriend Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday), Dr. Karol Noymann (Edgar Barrier), Gen. Considine (Morris Ankrum) and Gen. Van Buskirk (Robert Shayne), work feverishly to develop a way to defeat the seemingly invincible enemy. The climactic showdown takes place in New York City, with the bird attacking both the Empire State and United Nations buildings. It is defeated by a special type of isotope which brings down its anti-matter shield, allowing missiles to kill the bird as it crashes into the ocean outside New York City. The last scene shows the creature's claw sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
Jeff Morrow as Mitch MacAfee
Mara Corday as Sally Caldwell
Morris Ankrum as Lieutenant General Edward Considine
Louis Merrill as Pierre Broussard
Edgar Barrier as Dr. Karol Noymann
Robert Shayne as General Van Buskirk
Frank Griffin as the missing pilot
Clark Howat as Maj. Bergen
Morgan Jones as Lieutenant, Radar Officer
[icon] This section requires expansion. (December 2014)
A character in the film mistakes the bird for "La Carcagne", which is alleged in the film to be a monster from French Canadian folklore. La Carcagne is said to resemble a giant woman with a wolf's head and bat-like black wings and which, like the Banshee, is a harbinger of death.
The Giant Claw has been mocked for the quality of its special effects. The bird in particular is considered by many to be badly made, being a marionette puppet with a very odd face. The film is also riddled with stock footage, including clips of the explosion of the Los Angeles City Hall from War of the Worlds and the collapse of the Washington Monument from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers during the bird's attack on New York City, making continuity a serious issue.
Morrow later confessed in an interview that no one in the film knew what the titular monster looked like until the film's premiere. Morrow himself first saw the film in his hometown, and hearing the audience laugh every time the monster appeared on screen, he left the theater early, embarrassed that anyone there might recognize him (he allegedly went home and began drinking).
Video and DVD release
The film has been a staple of the bootleg video market, with only two official VHS releases (one in the USA through Goodtimes Home Video and the other through Screamtime in the United Kingdom) to date.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment finally released the film officially to DVD in October 2007 as part of the two-disc, four-film set Icons of Horror Collection - Sam Katzman, along with three other films produced by Katzman (Creature with the Atom Brain, The Werewolf and Zombies of Mora Tau).