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Master of the World (1961)

 -  Sci-Fi | Adventure  -  May 1961 (USA)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 1,500 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 24 critic

The world in the late 19th century: A scientist and his team are held as "guests" of Robur on his airship, that he want to use to ensure peace on earth. Peace with all, even if he has to ... See full summary »

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Title: Master of the World (1961)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Captain Robur
...
John Strock
...
Prudent
Mary Webster ...
Dorothy Prudent
David Frankham ...
Phillip Evans
Richard Harrison ...
Alistair
...
Topage (as Vitto Scotti)
Wally Campo ...
Turner
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Storyline

The world in the late 19th century: A scientist and his team are held as "guests" of Robur on his airship, that he want to use to ensure peace on earth. Peace with all, even if he has to bombard military targets all over the world. Can the scientist stop him ? Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The fabulous adventures of the man who conquered the earth to save it!

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Adventure

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Master of the World  »

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (including prologue)

Sound Mix:

(StereoSonic Sound)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

American International had planned on doing a sequel to this film. Concept drawings and even concept models were reportedly made. The sequel was not produced. See more »

Goofs

Robur's men use single-fire flintlock pistols. Yet the film is set in 1868, three years after the American Civil War, which saw wide use of percussion cap firearms, revolver pistols and repeating rifles, all of which existed before the War. For a man who claims to be ahead of his time, this is a weird anachronism. See more »

Quotes

Prudent: You, sir, are mad! Quite, quite mad!
Robur: How like the reasoning of your kind, Mr. Prudent. All well and sane to be the owner of factories, that products of which cause the violent deaths of millions in wartime and in peace. But to kill hundreds or even thousands with the aim of ending such deaths for all time? This is "madness."
Prudent: And do you, sir, consider the man who makes a weapon responsible for the action of the man who buys it?
Robur: Yes, I do, sir! All men are responsible to all other men.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Unusually for an early 1960s American film, the opening credits do not list the director, writers, or major technical staff; only the top-billed actors are credited, followed by the title, after which the film begins. See more »

Connections

Edited from The Four Feathers (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Master of the World
Music by Les Baxter
Lyrics by Lenny Adelson (as Lenny Addelson)
Sung by Darryl Stevens
See more »

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User Reviews

 
20,000 Leagues Above The Sea
30 January 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Set in the Victorian era, a mad genius named Robur (Vincent Price) has devised a futuristic flying ship for a devious, slightly contradictory, though possibly admirable purpose. He travels halfway around the world with an imprisoned quartet and a crew of "air sailors".

Although there are some problems with this film primarily due to its budget, and some viewers might be put off by the obvious similarities to Disney's version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954), I enjoyed this somewhat wacky sci-fi/fantasy/adventure film quite a bit, and gave it a 9 out of 10.

The film actually opens with a brief but clever, tongue-in-cheek black & white documentary about the history of flying machines. Abruptly, at the narrative line "Master of the World", the documentary ends. Then we change to color as we're taken to a sumptuously fantastic Pennsylvania town, complete with towering mountains and a seeming volcano.

I have to admit that director William Whitney already had me in the palm of his hand at that moment. I'm all for weird transitions, surrealism and beautifully saturated color cinematography. To make things even better, just as a character tells us how boring the town is, a booming voice (obviously Price's), quoting a doom-laden passage from scripture, emanates from the vicinity of the mountain.

I was also easily sold on the film because I'm a big Vincent Price fan. Price is great, even though the context of the role is a bit unusual for him. There is a lot of comic relief throughout most of the film, and the genre wasn't his norm. However, he comes across as menacingly demented yet suave as always. The rest of the principle cast was marvelous, too, with Charles Bronson playing an early version of Harrison Ford (maybe he always did that), Mary Webster as an appealing love triangle target, and some very fun and appropriate overacting from Henry Hull doing an early obnoxious "I'm an American" shtick and David Frankham as the perpetually irascible Victorian sap.

It's a blast noting all of the future tech elements from past eras' perspectives, and the set design and special effects are actually admirable given that this was a low-budget film for its ambitions. Even the stock footage and footage from the 1944 Henry V (the shots of London that look like a medieval town), although at times obvious, are incorporated well. On the other hand, there is some similarity between the set design and that of a particular era and class of television show--say the Adam West Batman, the original Star Trek, or even the Tom Baker Doctor Who--which all have a fairly low-budget look, but I have to admit that I love those shows, too.

There isn't much of an easily discernible subtext in the film, but of course that's because Master of the World wears its messages proudly on its sleeve. I won't state them explicitly here, as in my view that would be a spoiler, but it's notable, like many other aspects of the film, for its similarity to 20,000 Leagues, including its moral ambiguity. This would actually be a good film, as would 20,000 Leagues, to show a freshman-level ethics class as an exemplification of and discussion launching pad for both utilitarianism and deontology.

Although it's not exactly the most original film to come down the pike (but primarily just because of 20,000 Leagues), and it's not a faithful adaptation of author Jules Verne's work, I don't subtract points for either of those characteristics. Master Of The World has an engaging, solid story that is both thought provoking and a lot of fun.


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