Dr. Cyclops (1940)


The movie Dr. Cyclops (1940) is an American science fiction horror film from Paramount Pictures, produced by Dale Van Every and Merian C. Cooper, directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack. The film is based on the story “Dr. Cyclops” by Henry Kuttner¹.

The movie Dr. Cyclops (1940) tells the story of a mad scientist named Dr. Alexander Thorkel who is working in the South American jungle¹.

In the heart of the Peruvian jungle, eccentric scientist Alexander Thorkel is on a mission to miniaturize all of humanity in an effort to lessen their environmental footprint. Due to his failing eyesight, he calls upon a group of top American biologists to assist him in examining a specimen under his microscope. One of them identifies iron crystal contamination, which pleases Thorkel. After thanking them for their services, he asks them to leave. Feeling frustrated that they have journeyed thousands of miles for seemingly no reason, they decide to set up camp within Thorkel’s compound. There, they discover the area is abundant with pitchblende, a uranium and radium ore.

Thorkel then reveals his groundbreaking work: he has been shrinking living creatures using radiation sourced from a radium deposit located deep within a shaft. He invites the biologists to observe his apparatus, only to trap them inside his radiation chamber, where they are shrunk to a mere twelve inches.

Later, when Thorkel discovers that their miniaturized state is temporary, he suffocates one of them in a fit of rage. The remaining survivors escape to the jungle. Determined to prevent them from exposing his secret, Thorkel sets out to hunt them down. After shooting a second escapee, the other miniaturized fugitives manage to hide in one of Thorkel’s specimen cases and are unknowingly brought back to his lab. There, they plot to kill Thorkel with his own shotgun while he sleeps. However, he falls asleep at his desk instead. They manage to smash one lens of his glasses before he awakens. A chase ensues, leading Thorkel and the shrunken group to the mineshaft. Thorkel is left hanging by a rope when a plank he is lying on breaks. One of them cuts the rope, causing Thorkel to plunge to his death. Over time, the survivors return to their original size and begin their journey back to America.


  • Albert Dekker as Dr. Alexander Thorkel
  • Thomas Coley as Bill Stockton
  • Janice Logan as Dr. Mary Robinson
  • Charles Halton as Dr. Rupert Bulfinch
  • Victor Kilian as Steve Baker
  • Frank Yaconelli as Pedro Caroz
  • Paul Fix as Dr. Mendoza
  • Frank Reicher as Professor Kendall


Dr. Cyclops (1940) is notable for a number of reasons. It is the first science fiction film to be shot in three-color Technicolor. [2]

“Dr. Cyclops” was Albert Dekker’s signature part, and virtually all of his obituaries mentioned the film. [2]


One review from scifist.net states: “The movie has garnered a pretty good reputation over the years, with most reviewers acknowledging its shortcomings in the script and acting departments, but nonetheless praising its imagination and entertaining silliness.” [3]

Another review from The New York Times states: “as a cinematic spectacle, Dr. Cyclops is the best bad picture of the year, an epic of silliness, and, more than that, a triumph of the process screen and the department of trick effects all combined very tastefully.” [4]


[1] Wikipedia
[2] IMDb
[3] scifist.net
[4] The New York Times


Last updated byCody Meirick on November 29, 2023