The Blob is the first film I ever saw which starred Steve McQueen. And it’s the film where I immediately fell in love with his acting style. In a B-movie that’s inherently hokey, McQueen’s performance never feels as such. Ahead of his time in 1958 with his colloquial delivery and humor, the actor never sounds scripted. After all, the best actors can make any script sound good.
McQueen has help from director Irvin Yeaworth, who allows for a casual, natural banter, without letting the narrative become laid back in the process.
The story is pretty simple: An alien blob invades a small town, consuming everybody who it crosses paths with.
In the rural Pennsylvania town, teenagers Steve Andrews (McQueen) and his girlfriend, Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut), witness a meteorite crash nearby. On their way to check it out, they stumble upon an old man who has a gelatinous blob attached to his hand. In pain, Steve and Jane take the man to Dr. Hallen (Stephen Chase).
After reviewing the patient, Hallen prepares to amputate when he notices the blob is rapidly growing in size. Eventually it consumes the old man entirely. The amorphous blob then goes after Hallen, putting him away as well, just as Steve approaches the doctor’s window. Steve is in shock and goes around trying to warn the town about the monstrous creature, but nobody believes him, obviously.
With what little it has to work with, the film grows the character of Steve well. He’s our firm protagonist; he’s very likable and very relatable. It helps that McQueen is naturally that way.
Even though most everybody thinks Steve is nuts, a local police officer (Earl Rowe) does eventually heed Steve’s warnings despite the berating he gets from his colleagues. He trusts Steve’s integrity. The filmmakers wisely give us this character to believe Steve’s story, instead of leaving the audience frustrated along with him. You want to be happy or sad along with your protagonist, but never frustrated. When you make your audience frustrated, you make it harder for yourself to provide some sort of redemption to get out of that feeling. Frustration can’t be cured so easily, and often times your audience may still leave the movie upset.
Although the plot features some very slow decision making at times, there’s a certain atmosphere built that makes The Blob so undeniably appealing. Perhaps because it’s filmed on location in actual small towns of rural Pennsylvania, compared to the studio backlot sets that riddled Hollywood in the 1950s. The movie possesses a very intentional feel, like there’s actual craftiness behind the project, rather than just another drive-in teen movie. And if its legacy provides any proof, The Blob is definitely worth the watch all these years later.