RALEIGH — With a woman’s beauty the lure for his dangerous desires, the creature from the Black Lagoon is back! After being captured and shipped to a Florida aquarium for study, the gilled galoot spies the love of his life and pursues her across the state. Romantic? No. It’s “Revenge of the Creature,” showing at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on First Friday, May 2, at 7 p.m. Free.
This 1955 film stars John Agar as Professor Clete Ferguson, scientist-in-chief at the Florida aquarium. Agar’s 1945 marriage to "America's Sweetheart" Shirley Temple put him in the public eye for the first time, and a movie contract quickly ensued. Agar debuted opposite John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Temple in John Ford’s “Fort Apache” (1948). His marriage to Temple ended in 1949, but his movie career thrived, appearing alongside Wayne again in “Sands of Iwo Jima” (1949) and Kirk Douglas in “Along the Great Divide” (1952) before diving into more Museum-friendly films such as “The Mole People” (1956) and “The Brain from Planet Arous” (1957).
Lori Nelson plays Helen Dobson, who is not only the creature’s object of affection but the nutty professor’s as well. Nelson also broke hearts alongside aspiring genie Barbara Eden in the short-lived TV series “How to Marry a Millionaire” in the late 1950s.
John Bromfield plays Joe Hayes, a man who “helped” capture the creature in its home waters of the upper Amazon and deliver it to the aquarium. Joe also has eyes for Dobson, but can’t out-compete the professor (or the creature). He fared better as Sheriff Frank Morgan in the TV western series “Sheriff of Cochise,” which evolved into “U.S. Marshall” between 1958 and 1960. He abruptly retired from acting when the show went belly up after 139 episodes and instead pursued, get this, commercial fishing.
Keep an eye out for a young Clint Eastwood in his first big screen appearance as a goofy white-coated lab assistant who does some sleight of hand with a lab rat. This is four years before he landed his breakout role as Rowdy Yates in the TV western series “Rawhide,” which ran for 200+ episodes over six years … and the rest is history.
Playing the Creature, actor/stuntman Tom Hennesy almost drowned during filming. After he and Dobson (actually stuntwoman Ginger Stanley) jump off a pier into the water, a freak current pulled them both down. Stanley swam to the surface, but Hennesy’s costume had become waterlogged and heavy. He was rescued by two local boys who happened to be watching the filming from a nearby boat. Now that’s a story those boys are probably still telling.
Receive discounted tickets to “Rainforest Adventure” every First Friday from 5 to 7pm. Swing like a spider monkey. Ride the butterfly zip-line. Discover a rodent that weighs more than 100 pounds and a beetle that can carry more than 850 times its own weight. Visitors to this new exhibition are invited to explore one of the least-known habitats on Earth in a fully interactive maze, chock full of the sights and sounds of a tropical rainforest. Prices: Free for Members; All other tickets $5 on First Friday. Rainforest Adventure is designed for families with children ages 3-12.
The Museum stays open from 5 to 9 p.m. on the First Friday of every month, inviting visitors to witness a (classic) sci-fi or horror movie, wander through eye-catching exhibits, or enjoy food and beverages at the Daily Planet Café. Additionally, the Museum Stores offer after-hours shopping (till 7pm) and an opening reception for April Flanders, whose show “Beyond Their Borders” runs May 2-26 in the Nature Art Gallery. All exhibited art is for sale.