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April 12, 2006

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea


Irwin Allen - 1961
20th Century Fox Region 1 DVD

Based on the premise, I thought Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea would be kind of like The Day After Tomorrow, only about global warming rather than a new ice age. Allen's film is hardly prescient, but instead uses an unexplored explanation that the Van Allen Belt has caught fire. If the Van Allen Belt can be seen as the MacGuffin of Allen's film, it should be no surprise that the screenplay was co-written by Charles Bennett, a writer most famous for his work for Alfred Hitchcock. Allen's film seems primarily made to prove that after making dinosaurs walk the earth in The Lost World, he could create a contemporary Jules Verne style adventure that could equal Walt Disney in the special effects.

There is some psuedo-science going on concerning whether the Van Allen Belt will burn itself out, or if the only solution is to blow it into space with a nuclear missile. Most of the film plays like variation of The Caine Mutiny with various people questioning the sanity of Admiral Walter Pidgeon, and the voyage interrupted by accidents or sabotage. It's probably a good thing I missed this movie as a kid, I don't think I could sleep knowing the fate of the world was in the hands of Pidgeon and Peter Lorre.

Peter Lorre, one of the stars of Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is perhaps cast for that Disney connection. Looking back after forty-five years, it seems like science fiction to recall a time when Walter Pidgeon could be the top billed star, or that the name of Robert Sterling would mean anything except to those of us who watched re-runs of the "Topper" television series. Joan Fontaine probably deserved better than to fall into a pool, an unintended dinner for Lorre's pet shark. Of course, Barbara Eden looks cute with that stylish beret. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is untimately a boy's adventure film, featuring a former starlet who knew how to keep boys watching for the rest of her lengthy career.

Posted by peter at April 12, 2006 08:25 AM


This thing looks like a hoot. But poor Joan!

Posted by: Campaspe at April 16, 2006 05:55 PM