The Giant Claw – 1957 Columbia Pictures


The Giant Claw is a 1957 science fiction film about a giant bird that terrorises the world. Produced by Clover Productions it was released through Columbia Pictures and starred Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday. It was directed by Fred F. Sears.

It was summed up this way – ‘Arguably the worst sci-fi ever to emerge from a major studio.’


A giant extra-terrestrial buzzard with an anti-matter forcefield is terrorising the world, flying at intense speeds, downing vehicles in flight, chomping on parachuting innocents attempting to escape, and swooping down to cause death and destruction. It’s up to our brave government and scientists to figure out how to penetrate it’s forcefield so that the rockets and bullets we fire from our artillery can end it’s reign of terror for good. Directed by Fred F Sears.  Mitch MacAfee who works with the military to solve the crisis regarding the anti-matter forcefield, hopes to find a flaw, and create a weapon of some sort to remove this shield used to protect itself from invading hostile threats towards it’s body. Mara Corday is Sally, a mathematics genius and Mitch’s love-interest who helps keep him  focused. The giant killer bird swoops down to grab a moving locomotive train from it’s tracks, lands upon the United Nations building, smashing it to smithereens. Falling debris has city folk running for their lives.

 The killer bird has to be seen to be believed.


                                                                THE GIANT CLAW        HALF SHEET    1957 Original

The Giant Claw has been mocked for the quality of its special effects. The bird in particular is considered by many to be badly made, being a marionette puppet with a very odd face. The film is also riddled with stock footage, including clips of the explosion of the Los Angeles City Hall  from War of the Worlds and collapse of the Washington Monument  from Earth vs the Flying Saucers during the bird’s attack on New York City, making continuity a serious issue.


Morrow later confessed in an interview that no one in the film knew what the titular monster looked like until the film’s premiere. Morrow himself first saw the film in his hometown, and hearing the audience laugh every time the monster appeared on screen, he left the theater early, embarrassed that anyone there might recognise him (he allegedly went home and began drinking).

View the trailer  on this Link:      

However, despite all these shortcomings, James Rolfe of Cinemassacre named the Giant Claw as the number one greatest giant movie monster of all time due purely to the bird’s sheer ridiculousness.


Jeff Morrow.

Jeff Morrow turned to film acting relatively late in his career, commencing with the  The Robe in 1953. So he started with a big one.   He spent much of the 1950s appearing in a mix of A-budget epics in supporting parts, or ‘B’ Westerns such as The Siege at Red River (1954) and science fiction films , usually paired with a busty and beautiful actress.

Jeff Morrow carried over much of his acting persona from his radio days to his film acting roles, where his ability to rapidly alter both the tone and volume of his voice for dramatic effect frequently gave sound editors fits. He entered the science fiction/monster movie genre with the 1955 film This Island Earth, followed by The Creature Walks Among Us, The Giant Claw, and Kronos (1957).

                                                                    This Island Earth

Mara Corday – Below

Mara Corday (born Marilyn Joan Watts on January 3, 1930) is a showgirl, actress and model] and a 1950s cult figure probably because of the B movie films she made during the early part of the fifties.

 She signed on as a Universal International Pictures  contract player and there she met actor Clint Eastwood with whom she would remain lifelong friends. With UI, Corday was given small roles in various B-movies and television series. In 1954 on the set of Playgirl she met actor Richard Long. Following the death of Long’s wife, the two began dating and married in 1957.

Her roles were small until 1955 when she was cast opposite John Agar in Tarantula a Sci-Fi B-movie that proved a modest success (with Eastwood in an un-credited role). She had another successful co-starring role in that genre (The Black Scorpion) as well as in a number of Western films. Respected film critic Leonard Maltin said that Mara Corday had “more acting ability than she was permitted to exhibit.”


If someone mentions the names of Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday to me, I straight away think of such films as This Island Earth and Tarantula – and The Giant Claw for that matter – all of them products of a date and time. Such films could never be made now but they still hold a place in any genuine films fans heart I think. They were not that good but at the time – we loved them.

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