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Review: 'Men in Suits'

September 11, 2013 12:20 p.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando review teh documentary "Men in Suits," playing Saturday, September 14 only at the Digital Gym Cinema.

Related Story: Review: 'Men In Suits'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Most people can rattle off the names of movie monsters from Godzilla to Predator but very few can name the suit actors who play them. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says the documentary “Men in Suits,” playing Saturday at the Digital Gym Cinema, tries to set that right.

CLIP Godzilla roar

Most likely you recognize Godzilla’s roar but can you name the man inside the rubber suit who brought the atomic beast to life? Filmmaker Frank Woodward fell in love with movie monsters ever since he saw Godzilla fight the Smog Monster. His documentary “Men in Suits” is more than just a valentine to the actors who battled heat, fatigue, and uncomfortable costumes to bring fantastical creatures to life on screen. It’s a film that demands appreciation for an unrecognized craft.

FRANK WOODWARD: Not many people can tell you who played the Creature from the Black Lagoon. And I thought that was wrong. I thought these are actors, especially now with people like Doug Jones, Brian Steele, these are people who brought these characters to life with every bit as much talent as your top actors out there.

Actors like Haruo Nakajima, one of the men who climbed inside 200 pound rubber suits to make Japanese monsters international icons. In “Men in Suits,” author August Ragone recounts this anecdote about Nakajima.

AUGUST RAGONE: The scene required for him to walk over this truck and they blew it up underneath him, it burned right through the costume and burned his groin. He did not yell for help. He didn’t cry. He kept on with the scene because he said until the director yells cut I kept acting…

Suit actors accept that filmgoers may not know their names but what bothers them is that casting directors don’t know their names either. Woodward’s film takes a monster-sized step in giving these artists the recognition they deserve. It’s also a wildly entertaining look at the nuts and bolts of a particular kind of movie magic.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.