Variety is reporting that next spring Godzilla's many fans will get a chance to check out the original, uncut 1954 film for the first time in American theaters, but they will have to brave the rigors of their local art house theater to do so. Rialto Pictures, the New York-based specialty distributor whose list of titles includes such classic art house staples as The Third Man, The Nights of Cabiria, Grand Illusion, and The Battle of Algiers, is striking new 35 mm prints with an updated translation and new subtitles. Fans of Raymond Burr don't need to bother checking out this new (to America) version of Godzilla, since Burr, whose scenes were added for the benefit of American audiences, won't appear in the new version, which is identical to the version originally released in Japan and contains forty minutes of footage that was cut out of the film before it was shown in the US. Ishiro Honda's original Godzilla film had a strong anti-nuclear message, which was toned down considerably for its US release in the 1950s (since the US was continually conducting nuclear tests throughout the decade).
While Godzilla at the ripe old age of 50 may be relegated to an art house run, this ultimate 'cult' monster movie in its original version should be something of a revelation to hardcore fans, who will get to see a movie icon that spawned a record 26 sequels. For retailers who can get their hands on Godzilla merchandise (see 'Bandai Readies Classic Godzilla Toys For Spring'), the theatrical showings of the original Godzilla film (and its subsequent release on DVD) could well be a major opportunity.