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Friday, September 26, 2014

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)

My first introduction to the “Master of Disaster,” Irwin Allen, was in 1974 when The Towering Inferno hit the big screen.  I was thirteen at the time and begged my Mom to let me see the film.  She previewed it.  My GRANDMOTHER previewed it.  Finally, the two of them told me that it was O.K. for me to go see it.  I remember my joy as I took my seat in the theater and watched all the amazing sights and sounds of this epic disaster movie.  I was instantly hooked and couldn’t wait for Allen’s next big epic to hit the screen.

Director/Writer Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is everything you could hope for in an epic adventure, 1960’s style.  Allen made it as big and as loud as he could, and we love him for it.  The dialogue is a bit bombastic at times.  The soundtrack
matches the dialogue with lots of horns and very little strings.  The underwater scenes are vibrant and energetic.  The cast is jam packed with some of the best stars of the day.  Who could ask for anything more?

Well, there are several chinks in this disaster movie’s armor.  The science is clearly fiction with icebergs breaking up and sinking, the Van Allen radiation belt catching fire  [Just Google it], attack subs diving at 3,000 feet when today’s subs can’t dive beyond 1300 feet!  But who cares?  This is one of those films where you just have to suspend your critical thinking and enjoy the ride.

The other chink in the armor is a few of the special effects, especially the octopus that attacks one of the divers and coils one of its tentacles around her.  While it’s hardly Ed Wood’s octopus from Bride of the Monster (1955), you can see it from there.  Later in the film a giant octopus attacks the sub with better results.  They used a live octopus for the scene and shot it in reverse since octopi are very shy creatures.

If you want names, you’ve got ‘em!  The cast includes Barbara Eden [I Dream of Genie] and Frankie Avlon [Beach Blanket Bingo] to attract the teenagers.  For the adults they included heavyweights Walter Pidgeon [Forbidden Planet] as the captain, Joan Fontaine  [Rebecca] as Dr. Hiller, and a small role for Peter Lorre [M, The Maltese Falcon] as Commander Emery.  Everyone in the cast is great.  There’s not a dud in the bunch!

Irwin Allen knew what he did best and it with great gusto. In the 1960’s, when Allen began making TV series, he was known as the most successful science fiction producer of the decade, spawning a TV series of the same name as the film that ran from 1964–68.  He also produced two of my childhood favorites: Lost in Space (1965–68) and Land of the Giants (1968–70).  Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is classic stuff. Don’t miss it!

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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