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Unknown World (1951)

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Scientists use a gigantic drilling machine for an expedition to the center of the earth.


(as Terrell O. Morse)


(original screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
Bruce Kellogg ...
Wright Thompson
Otto Waldis ...
Dr. Max A. Bauer
Jim Bannon ...
Andy Ostergaard
Tom Handley ...
Dr. James Paxton
Dick Cogan ...
Dr. George Coleman
George Baxter ...
Carlisle Foundation Chairman
Marilyn Nash ...
Dr. Joan Lindsey


Dr. Jerimiah Morley becomes convinced that the world is headed to an inevitable worldwide nuclear war. He organizes an expedition made up of a team of expert scientists and an atomic-powered rock-boring vehicle called a "cyclotram" to find a subterranean environment where holocaust survivors could live indefinitely. When funding falls through, independently rich adventurer Wright Thompson underwrites the project under the condition that he be allowed to go. As the group goes deeper beneath the Earth's crust, personalities clash, tempers flare, and the dangerous journey claims the lives of several expedition members. When they come upon an enormous underground expanse with its own ocean and phosphorescent light, it appears that their goal has been achieved. Written by Gabe Taverney {

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A thousand miles down...Ten-thousand Thrills Deep! (original poster) See more »


Adventure | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 October 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Night Without Stars  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although Victor Kilian, as Dr. Morley, is clearly the star of the film, he received no screen credit because he was blacklisted shortly after completing the movie, a victim of the "Red Scare" hysteria sweeping the country at the time, stoked by rabid right-wing Sen. Joseph McCarthy. This was perhaps the only instance in Hollywood history where the leading actor in a film was deliberately not listed in its cast while everyone else was. See more »


The explorers stop tunneling at 1640 miles straight down. Considering their speed of travel and their angle of descent, it would take as much as two years to get that far. But we see no evidence that their trip takes anywhere near that long, and it's doubtful they could carry enough food and other supplies for such a long time. See more »


Wright Thompson: [referring to the scientists] Don't they ever talk?
Andy Ostergaard: Not unless they got something to say. That's the way it is with smart people,
Wright Thompson: Maybe they're not so smart. Maybe they don't know what they're doin' down here.
Andy Ostergaard: Listen, buster. Each one of them has taught at more colleges than you flunked out of.
Wright Thompson: So what are you doing down here among all those brains?
Andy Ostergaard: I manage to make myself useful. It might be well if you did the same thing.
See more »

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User Reviews

Unsci fi. Started out promising but went nowhere for an hour afterward
19 April 2006 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Let's face it, if you're bothering to read reviews of this film, you are probably going to see it out of a sense of obligation if nothing else. So, it really doesn't matter what I say, now does it?

This is a fairly typical early 1950s not-very-scientific attempt to use the genre as a means for moralizing. The morality of this film is certainly worth listening to for its anti-war, anti-pollution, etc, messages, but the film lacks depth, science of any kind, and, basically, a compelling plot.

Being a fan of 50s sci if, I thought this film started off pretty well. Although there is no obvious crisis looming on the horizon, a scientist and a group of anti-nuke colleagues obtain grant money to explore deep within the earth for the possibility of habitable subterranean environments. Since the film was made in 1950-51, the level of concern regarding nuclear warheads is certainly understandable (too bad some have forgotten about this, eh?).

Much is made about the vehicle which they will use for this journey. The vehicle looks like a suped-up bullet nose Studebaker with a large drill bit attached to it. This vehicle is apparently capable of drilling through several hundred miles of solid rock, without any visible cooling system. As the scientists explore deeper and deeper into the earth, they are not surprised (though I was) to find that most of the crust and upper mantle (my terms, not theirs) are in fact hollow, and have not only gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites, but flat floors graded properly for people to take walks on. Harassed by noxious gasses, magma and pretty poor acting, the cast dwindles as the story devolves into a simple adventure tale.

The acting is generally uneven, and is hampered by the occasionally absurd script. I really don't want to single anybody out, but Marilyn Nash and Bruce Kellogg are particularly off-pace in this one.

The director, Terry Morse, went on to make a few good films (such as the List of Adrian Messenger), and also a lot of other films (the American version of Godzilla, and the timeless classic - not - Love Slaves of the Amazon). And this is sort of below-standard fare in the context of his filmography.

Well, OK then, go see it... You know you want to, and I am not going to stop you... But don't say you didn't have fair warning.

29 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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