The Earliest Days of GODZILLA in America
Author: Keith Aiken
Special Thanks to Brad Warner
In 1948, the Actual Publishing Company, Inc. in New York launched the “men’s magazine” Vue— America’s Photo Digest. While nearly forgotten today, for more than twenty years Vue covered sports, cars, movies, adventure, hunting, travel and (of course) beautiful women. Publisher Allen Stearn devoted nearly half an issue to photographs of bathing suit and lingerie-clad ladies, from young hopefuls to established stars like Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren and Bettie Page.
Vue Volume 7, Number 2 ran 130 pages and had a cover price of 25 cents. In addition to page after page of cheesecake photography, the issue featured a look at Thai kickboxing, showgirls competing for a part on THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW, survivors of an avalanche in the Alps, bow hunting, the Winchester ghost house, a behind-the-scenes report on Orson Welles’ ballet THE LADY IN THE ICE, salmon fishing, a successful attempt to break the world speed record, and a new Japanese monster movie called GOJIRA.
Vue’s coverage of GOJIRA was brief— only two paragraphs of text and a handful of publicity photos— but the magazine treated the material respectfully with none of the condescension so often targeted at movies of this ilk. The uncredited author of the article discusses the monster as a symbol for the hydrogen bomb and the film being a plea for world peace… points often lost on American reviewers.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article is that it was published in the March 1955 issue of Vue, barely four months after GOJIRA’s November 1954 opening in Japanese theaters, months before Toho screened the subtitled version called GODZILLA in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles, and over a year before the Americanized GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS was released in the United States.
In years to come, Godzilla would be covered in industry publications such as Variety and popular genre mags like Famous Monsters of Filmland, but quite possibly the King of the Monsters’ very first appearance in America came alongside bathing beauties and Orson Welles in the pages of a men’s magazine.