Scott Carey (Grant Williams), is a businessman who is on vacation on a boat, off the Californian coast, with his 5ft 8in wife Louise, when he suddenly is contaminated by a Hydrogen cloud and pesticide. At the time, Louise was below deck getting refreshments, so she wasn't affected. Subsequently, Scott, who is 6ft 2in tall and weighs 190 pounds, thinks little of the cloud, and doesn't appear to have been affected by it.
However, one morning, six months later, Scott notices that his shirt seems too big. He blames it on the cleaners. However, this trend continues, and Scott believes he is shrinking. At first Louise dismisses his fears as silly, but he continues to lose weight and height. Noticeably, this is shown when he looks his wife, previously six inches shorter than he, in the eye.
Scott visits a prominent research laboratory, and after numerous tests, learns the mist carried radioactive pesticides, causing his cells to shrink.
Scott carries on shrinking and losing weight. His story hits the headlines, and he becomes a national curiosity. He also has to give up his job and stops driving. To make ends meet, he sells his story to the national press.
By this point he feels humiliated, and expresses his shame and impotence by lashing out at his wife. She is reduced to tears of despair at her husband's fate.
Then, it seems, an antidote is found for Scott's affliction: it briefly arrests Carey's shrinking when he is 36 and a half inches tall and weighs 52-pounds. Despite halting his dimunation, he is told that he will never return to his former size, unless a cure is found, and that the antidote will only arrest the shrinking. Still, he seems relatively content to remain at three-feet tall, and begins to accept his fate.
At a circus, he briefly becomes friends with a female dwarf, who initially is identical in height; she is appearing in a side-show and persuades Scott that life isn't all negative being their size. Although their relationship is platonic in the film, it becomes romantic in the novel. Within a short time, when he later notices that he has become even shorter than the midget, Scott leaves her. He carries on shrinking, and eventually is reduced to living in a dollhouse. After nearly being killed by a cat, he winds up trapped in a basement and has to battle a voracious spider, his own hunger, and the fear that he may eventually shrink down to nothing. After defeating the spider, Scott accepts his fate and (now so small he can escape the basement by walking through a space in a window screen) is resigned to the adventure of seeing what awaits him in even smaller realms. The film's ending monologue implies Scott will eventually shrink to atomic size.
The original novel differs slightly in content and tone from the film. In the novel the story is told through flashback. It describes Scott's life in the basement up until his battle with the spider. Scott Carey and his wife Louise have a five-year-old daughter named Beth. He encounters a drunken pedophile when he's 42 inches tall and some teenage toughs, who persecute him, when he's three-feet-tall. He experiences some disturbing sexual tension in his dealings with his daughter's 16 year old babysitter, Catherine, when he is two-feet-tall, barely reaching his daughter's chest, and has to cope with a strained relationship with his wife, who has gradually become a gigantic figure. The soliloquy which closes the film is not found in the book but was added to the script by the film's director, Jack Arnold.
The camera work and effects were considered remarkable and imaginative for their time.
Size-changing themes in the 1950s
The theme of size-changing was explored in several other movies of this period, including Jack Arnold's earlier Tarantula, in which a synthetic food causes several animals to grow to massive size, including the title animal, a spider that grows to alarming heights. Them! (1954), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) explored the opposite idea of uncontrolled growth. Attack of the Puppet People was rushed into production by American International Pictures and director Bert I. Gordon in 1958.
The film was very well received by critics. It has a fresh 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sequel and Remakes
Matheson wrote a script for a sequel titled Fantastic Little Girl, but the film was never produced. The script, in which Louise Carey follows her husband into a microscopic world, was later published in 2006 by Gauntlet Press in a collection titled Unrealized Dreams.
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment are currently slated to produce a remake starring Eddie Murphy. It is still very early on in pre-production and no formal release date has been announced. 
- ↑ "25 new titles added to National Film Registry". Yahoo News (Yahoo). 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2009-12-30.[dead link]
- ↑ Reflections of a Storyteller: A Conversation with Richard Matheson William P. Simmons, Cemetery Dance magazine
- ↑ "Remake Watch: The Incredible Shrinking Man". SciFi Movie Page. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) at the Internet Movie Database
- The Incredible Shrinking Man at Allmovie
- Review by Science Fiction Weekly
- Book to Movie comparison
- A research investigating the possibility to shrink the human species to better fit the earth