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In director Jack Arnold’s Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), our first glimpse of the Lovecraftian Gill-Man is disappointingly brief. With Joseph Gershenson’s superb, blaring score trumpeting its appearance, a webbed, taloned hand rises from the Amazon River’s inky depths and claws the shore. Likewise, the first time we see the object of the creature’s affection—Julie Adams, starring as ichthyologist Dr. David Reed’s preternaturally perky research assistant Kay—it’s also little more than a tease. She’s wearing short shorts, all right, but a bulky black sweater (in South America?) obscures one of B-moviedom’s best bodies. Eventually, in Creature’s most famous sequence, Arnold does showcase his Beauty and his Beast in all their respective glories: Adams, looking sexier in her white one-piece than any of the synthetically engineered lifeguards currently bouncing through Baywatch, swims along the Amazon’s surface; beneath her, the smitten Gill-Man approaches, then backs off, mirroring her movements in an underwater ballet of freakish beauty. Not just a soggy fish-meets-girl story, however, Creature is also a sort of lowbrow “Heart of Darkness,” placing a team of civilized, scientific men smack in the middle of a steaming jungle that triggers monstrous, primitive passions—lust for Kay, bloodlust for the creature—within them. Pretensions of depth aside, Creature’s acting, except for Adams’, is wooden, and its science soft, but there’s nothing like seeing this Universal classic as it was originally released—in eye-popping 3-D. At 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 12, at the National Theatre’s Hayes Gallery, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 783-3372. (Robert Aguirre-Sacasa)