This was the first time New York was destroyed on film

1933 was a strange year for New York on film. When a giant ape wasn't climbing the Empire State Building in King Kong, a massive earthquake was shaking the city's skyscrapers to the ground in Deluge. Watch how New York City met its doom long before Roland Emmerich knocked down his first Lincoln Log cabin.

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Directed by Felix E. Feist, Deluge was once thought to be lost until an Italian dub of the film turned up in the 1980s. The disaster sequence, however, had been kept as stock footage and re-used for the 1939 film S.O.S. Tidal Wave, 1941's Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc., and 1949's King of the Rocket Men.

And You Call Yourself a Scientist has a fantastic, detailed synopsis and history of the film.

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DISCUSSION

Spaceart
Ron Miller

The effects, created by Ned Mann, involved the construction of a huge scale model of NY. The buildings were thin plaster shells (accounting for the strange way in which they crumble during the earthquake and flood). I've seen the entire film and, except for a startlingly sexy Peggy Shannon, the earthquake is by far the best part.