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The larger-than-life Jules Verne adventure about reclusive genius Captain Nemo, his magnificent submarine, The Nautilus, and the perilous voyage he makes with a group of captive adventurers, on of which is a young woman disguised as a man.
Prof. Lindenbrook leads his intrepid party on an expedition to the center of the earth, via a volcano in Iceland, encountering all manner of prehistoric monsters and life-threatening hazards on the way. Written by
Mark Hockley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jules Verne's vision, wonderful if somewhat flawed.
In this day and age when relations between France and America are not terribly cordial, one of the uniting factors in the past has been the popularity of author Jules Verne. If I had to guess I would say he was the most popular French author in the USA and has been that for some many decades now.
His books set firmly in the 19th century offered a wonderful vision of things to come that our own deep seated curiosity will lead us to find. Someone out there correct me if I'm wrong, but the very international Mr. Verne never had a French hero in any of us books. Science to him was not the property of one nation or man, but something that should benefit us all.
His characters for Journey to the Center of the Earth are from Scotland, Sweden, and Iceland. And the story begins in Scotland with Geology Professor James Mason getting a piece of unusual lava rock from student Pat Boone, thereby setting in motion a chain of events that will take them to Iceland and a passage deep into the earth's bowels.
James Mason heads a fine cast and does very well by the part of Professor Oliver Lindenbrook, geology professor and explorer. The film opens at the University of Edinburgh. I am told that even today Edinburgh has kept it's historic traditions and look. The film does capture it in it's opening sequences.
Arlene Dahl, Swedish, plays the widow of a Swedish professor who was a rival to James Mason and sought to beat him to the opening passage in Iceland. He's murdered and she has inherited all the equipment her husband has bought that James Mason needs and she blackmails him into taking her along. Of course that works out just fine for both of them.
Also along is geology student Pat Boone. Now maybe someone who was a Scot should have played Alec McCowen, but Boone was in his heyday as a teenage idol, a clean cut Elvis. That sure brought in the teenybopper trade. Boone is a pleasant singer and he sings a Robert Burns poem set to Jimmy Van Heusen's music.
Thayer David is the descendant of a Count Arne Saknussem who originally found the passage and David wants to keep it for himself. He's our villain and he follows our intrepid explorers into the earth.
Peter Ronson is our native Icelander and since he speaks no English, Arlene Dahl comes in handy as a translator. The most ridiculous part of the film is Ronson's insistence on bringing his pet goose along. I mean, really, what did he think would happen if they ran short of food?
Verne's vision of a hollow Earth with an inner sea is not exactly accepted today. But that doesn't stop from making this a most entertaining piece of cinema.
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