|JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
(director: Henry Levin; screenwriters: Walter Reisch/Charles
Brackett/based on a novel by Jules Verne;
cinematographer: Leo Tover; editor: Stuart Gilmore;
music: Bernard Hermann; cast: Pat Boone
(Alexander 'Alec' McKuen), James Mason (Sir Oliver S.
Lindenbrook), Arlene Dahl (Carla Gteborg), Diane Baker
(Jenny Lindenbrook), Thayer David (Count Saknussem),
Peter Ronson (Hans Belker), Ben Wright (Paisley), Ivan Triesault (Professor
Adler (Groom), Alan Napier (Dean); Runtime: 132;
MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles Brackett; Twentieth
"Enjoyable hokum sci-fi tale that's based on an 1864 Jules Verne story."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Henry Levin ("The Man From Colorado"/"The Dark Avenger"/"The Ambushers") helms this enjoyable hokum sci-fi tale that's based on an 1864 Jules Verne story. It's delightfully written by Walter Reisch and Charles Brackett (long-time collaborator with writer-director Billy Wilder). Despite the presence of a singing Pat Boone and a wooden Arlene Dahl, two questionable thespians, the old-fashioned fantasy adventure story sparkles. All the fine acting needed is provided by James Mason. Also included are some pretty neat special effects, lush Cinemascope and a refreshing tongue-in-cheek approach to the storytelling.
1880, Edinburgh science Professor Sir Oliver
S. Lindenbrook (James Mason) is knighted. The
professor's prize pupil Alec McEwen (Pat
Boone), engaged to his sweet niece Jenny (Diane
Baker), presents him with a lava
paperweight as a gift to mark the occasion. The
curious professor experiments on the Italian lava and
discovers what made it so heavy was inside it was an Icelandic rock--
a plumb-bob that has inscriptions and a
message made by the famous Icelandic explorer Arne
Saknussemn, an expert on volcanoes, who
disappeared when trekking from an Icelandic
volcano to the center of the Earth.
When the competitive Sir
Oliver learns that his geologist colleague,
Swedish volcano expert Professor Gteborg
(Ivan Triesault), is a scoundrel, who plans to
beat him to the center of the Earth after
Oliver trusted him with knowledge of his lava
discovery, Oliver goes in pursuit of him with
Alec tagging along. In Iceland they are held
as hostages in an eider storage barn, but are
freed by local gentle giant farmer Hans
Ronson) and his duck Gertrude.
When tracking Professor Gteborg, who
purchased all the needed
equipment and left none for them
to purchase, they discover the
Swede has been poisoned by
another rival and his corpse is
in his hotel room. Gteborg's
wife Carla (Arlene
Dahl) arrives and
insists she will give
Oliver her husband's
valuable supplies only
if she's allowed on
squawks that she's a
woman on a man's
adventure, but he
On the last day of May, the Lindenbrook expedition team of Oliver, Alec, Hans, Gertrude the duck and Carla uses the pinpoint opening in the Earth caused by the sunrise to descend into the Earth's interior. There they must overcome the dangers from a sinister rival, Count Saknussem (Thayer David), a mad scientist relative of the noted explorer who believes only he is entitled to be the explorer to the Earth's center. Other dangers include perilous lost trails, wrong trail markings, strong winds, prehistoric monsters, underground oceans, a rock slide, a flood, oppressive weather conditions, an unusual mushroom forest, a cave of shiny quartz crystals and a rescue by Italian fishermen of the expedition team who are ejected out of Stromboli on a tide of lava. There's also a chaste romance developing between Dahl and Mason, a romance that moves along as a product of the Victorian age.
REVIEWED ON 10/9/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ