Strangers On A Train (1951)

No Time For Sergeants (1958)

Dark Passage (1947)

 Forbidden Planet (1956)

Larceny, Inc. (1942)

North By Northwest (1959)

On Borrowed Time (1939)

Topper (1937)

Sirocco (1951)

Page last updated
May 31, 2005

 

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Run Time: 2 hrs. 9 min. (color)
Release Date: 1959
Genre: Adventure
Rated: Not Rated
Starring: James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl
Review by: Terry Whitsitt

The Classic Movie Corner Rating:  

      In the year 1880, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Professor Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason) receives a volcanic rock as a gift from his star student, Alec McCuen (Pat Boone). The professor finds a message engraved on a man-made tool, inside the strange stone. The message is from Arnie Saknussemm, a scientist, missing and presumed dead for over a hundred years, after claiming he could find a route to the center of the earth. The message says Saknussemm was successful in reaching his goal, but was unable to return. The professor sends this information to Professor Gerterburg in Stockholm, the foremost authority on the subject, for confirmation, but fails to receive an answer. It is later learned that Gerterburg vanished shortly after receiving Oliver's information. So begins the journey, to follow in Saknussemm's footsteps to the center of the earth, and hopefully to return.
     Lindenbrook is joined on his journey by young Alec. After arriving in Iceland, the two find that Professor Gerterburg is dead. To Oliver's dismay, his late adversary's widow, Karla Gerterburg, (Arlene Dahl) who speaks Icelandic, joins the expedition, along with an Icelandic guide (who doesn't speak English) and Gertrude (his pet duck). Alec is ready and willing to follow his teacher on the journey. However, he waits until they are on the edge of the volcano, looking down, to say, "I neglected to tell you, sir, I have a nervous fear of heights. " The professor assures him, "Well, you'll get over that after the first million fathoms or so. " They soon learn that the journey's hazards are not their only danger, when one of Arnie Saknussemm's descendents mounts his own expedition and will stop at nothing, including murder, kidnapping, betrayal and sabotage, to succeed where his forefather failed. During their decent, the Lindenbrook's group encounters a beautiful cavern of quartz crystals; algae that glows in the dark; giant edible mushroom trees; and several large, prehistoric reptiles. During their journey, the young Icelandic guide asks Karla why they are making this precarious journey. The professor asks Alec to answer for them. He replies, "Well, why does man freeze to death trying to reach the NorthPole, or suffer the stinging heat of the Amazon? Once a question mark has arisen in the human brain, the answer must be found, if it takes a hundred years ... a thousand years!" The professor says to Karla, "Let's hear you render that into a few well-chosen Icelandic words!" Alec quickly responds, "Why not simply tell him scientists have `bats in their belfries.'"
     The film is faithful to Jules Verne's classic adventure story, written in 1864. The musical score and special visual effects lend greatly to the enjoyment of this fine family adventure film, as do many of the lighter moments. Many will also notice a couple of suspenseful scenes that look very familiar: from the group being chased by a giant boulder; to having the sun shine, to mark the spot to begin the journey. These and a few other scenes caused me to wonder if Steven Spielberg remembered seeing this film, when he made his 1981 adventure film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark. ......

Additional Information:

Director: Henry Levin;    Producer: John Beck;   Screenplay: Walter Reisch & Charles Brackett;    Based on: Novel by Jules Verne;   Intended audience: Family
Review Copyright 1997 by Terry Whitsitt

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