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Low-budget thriller with some interesting concepts
henri sauvage29 May 2003
Something about this movie makes me believe it was inspired by some article in an old Popular Science magazine about giant atomic-powered cargo subs of the near future plying the short route to the Pacific under the polar ice cap. (I must have missed that development while I was commuting by hovercar to my all-plastic cabin in the mountains, where a home breeder reactor supplies me with power too cheap to meter.)

The actors are (mostly) competent, with B-movie stalwart Arthur Franz in the lead. The script is serviceable, containing some creepy moments as well as an occasionally interesting clash of ideologies between military tough guy Franz and the peacenik scientist son (Brett Halsey) of his revered mentor. Though they despise each other at first, they find they can agree on the need to kick some alien booty.

The fx team of Jack Rabin, Irving Block and Louis DeWitt collaborated on quite a few low-budget sci-fi's in the 50's -- the most notable example being "Kronos", with its bizarre, energy-sucking giant cubist robot -- and manage to achieve a few interesting effects in this one, too.

The most unusual thing about this film is that I believe it's the first sci-fi movie to use the concept of a "living" spaceship. And I'm willing to bet money that the film's slime-dripping, tentacled alien Cyclops is the direct inspiration for The Simpsons' Kang and Kodos. Even the voice is similar.

If you're willing to forgive its obvious limitations, "Atomic Submarine" is an entertaining little low-budget romp.
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One of the Sci Fi Mill Classics
teuthis9 March 2003
"Atomic Submarine" has two things to recommend it to viewers. It is adventure, with all sorts of dangerous situations, and a desperate battle against an undersea alien. And, it is unintentionally funny. Not hilarious mind you; but certainly funny enough for a few laughs as you enjoy its clumsy attempts at plot, acting and logic. Still, I like it, and I always watch it if it comes on cable. Its the adventure I guess. I get caught up in the idea of the powerful submarine; the crew at odds with each other; the "science-on-the-fly" they use to fight the monster. Its fun overall. I would venture to say that it is one of the classics of the 50's-60's low budget sci fi era.

This film is also notable for a brief appearance by Joi Lansing; the last, and prettiest, of the Hollywood "blonde bombshells". It's certainly worth watching if you're a guy, and a sci-fi fan. With a little imagination, "Atomic Submarine" is entertaining escapism.
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I only have ice for you
sol3 August 2008
**SPOLIERS** After some half dozen US Navy subs have been destroyed in the Arctic Ocean within 200-from 87 to 90 degrees North latitude-miles of the North Pole it's decided by the US Military to send it's most advanced atomic submarine The "Tiger Shark" there to see what's causing all this destruction.

With Camdr. Reef Holloway, Arthur Franz, and his second in command Capt. Dan Wendover, Dick Foran, put in charge of the nuclear sub "Tiger Shark" in a top secret mission to the North Pole things get a bit sticky when Dr.Carl Neilson joins the sub's crew. Despite his youth, he's in his late 20's, Dr. Neilson is one of the top oceanographers in the world.

Dr. Neilson is also an unashamed peace-nick who had his old man, Reef's mentor the top naval war tactician in Annapolis,and the person whom Reef worshiped the very ground he walks on,end up hospitalized with a career ending nervous breakdown! That resulted in Dr. Neilson insinuating to the press that his father is a warmonger in his obsession with the use of nuclear submarines- and their payload of Polaris nuclear missiles-in the defense of freedom.

This tension between Reef and Dr. Neilson goes on unabatedly during the entire trip to the North Pole until it's realized that what's been sinking US military vessels up there is a hostile 300 foot in diameter flying saucer!

This UFO identified as the Cyclops, because of its flashing blue light, is using the magnetic pull of the earth, centered at the poles, to regenerate itself with magnetic energy. At the same time the UFO in order to keep it's existence secret zaps any ship or underwater sub that's unfortunate enough to get in its way!

It's also later found out straight from the UFO's pilot's-a hairy one eyed alien- mouth, or subconscious, that it's planing to have it's fellow one eyed monsters colonize the world and enslave the earth's human population!

It takes a while, with a number of the "Tiger Sharks" crew members getting killed, to figure out how to handle this alien, or aliens, from space. But later with the help of the now, he finally saw the light, kill em first and don't ask questions later ex-pacifist Dr. Neilson the human race in the end prevailed.

The problem now, after destroying the Cyclops, is just how many more of these one eyed monsters are still out there in space watching and monitoring us! And also will we have the both strength and fortitude, as well as the military hardware, to combat and defeat them in the not so far off distance future?
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A nice, creepy low budget movie.
Chris Gaskin11 January 2002
The Atomic Submarine is atmospheric and creepy, especially when out in the frozen wastes of the North Pole.

A lot of stock footage didn't spoil my enjoyment, although we see different submarines. Good performances from 50s B movie regulars like Arthur Franz and Tom Conway keep the movie going. The monster in the flying saucer has to be seen to be believed. Great stuff, considering the low budget.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
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Science-Fiction Gold
twanurit24 April 2001
Yet another interesting, small-budget, black-and-white thriller gem from the 1950s. These pictures are being continually (and successfully) released to DVD, much more than the genre films from the 1960s through 1990s. Why? In these post Atomic, Cold War years, imagination ran rampant with so many new ideas that were fresh and innovative. They're charming in their antiquated way. Using inexpensive special effects, with a generally serviceable, attractive cast working with scripts that moved the action along, these sci-fi drama infused sex (tame for the time) and violence with effective results. "Atomic Submarine" tells the story of an alien spacecraft destroying subs in the Arctic. When Arthur Franz finally meets the creature, a giant cyclopean octopus-style thing, it states (via telepathic communication) "We finally meet face to face. Franz replies: "That's a face?" Later Franz relates to extraordinarily handsome hunk Brett Halsey, that he left his little black book on the alien spacecraft, which included the number of buxom blonde (Joi Lansing) that he had a rendezvous with earlier. Most enjoyable.
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Definitely the blueprint for VOYAGE's The Seaview
David Edward Martin3 October 2004
What a difference the three years separating ATOMIC SUBMARINE and VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA made! Of course, Allen's much larger budget sure helped too. Still, one can see The Tigershark as being the direct parent of The Seaview.

We have an advanced nuclear sub capable of firing missiles or torpedoes and equipped with a secondary submarine. The Seaview originally carried a small fleet of 2-man submersibles but they got eclipsed by the flashier Flying Sub. And of course you have the senior officer, the younger guy who actually handles the action scenes, and a couple onboard scientists just for the heck of it.

The plot itself is pretty much the model for many of the Voyages to the Bottom of the Sea. The hidden mystery at the heart of an otherwise normal mission, the unexpected monster.... Yeah, this could have been a VOYAGE episode. And in fact, eventually IT WAS! VOYAGE did an episode that adapted ATOMIC SUBMARINE pretty much straight, just changing the sub, the crew names, and a few details (and ditching Joi Lansing's character, alas!).

While ATOMIC SUBMARINE does look frightfully low budget compared to VOYAGE, let alone today's super-bloated budget busters, it works pretty well for a product of its time. And the minimalist, barely illuminated alien saucer interior is surprising effect. I know it creeped me out when I first saw this late one night in '66!
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Don't believe the incredible low IS quite enjoyable.
MartinHafer23 January 2012
"The Atomic Submarine" is rather surprisingly a release from the super-intellectual Criterion Collection. This surprised me, though after seeing it, I could see that the film was a very good B-movie--and there was a lot to admire.

The film begins by learning that various ships entering the Arctic region have been lost--so many that the government is sending their top submarine there to investigate. This ship discovers something that no one had anticipated...and I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the suspense--and there is quite a bit.

This film has several deficits--mostly due to its very low budget. Because they could not afford tons of special effects, a few shortcuts were used. Stock footage (often a bit grainy) of ships sinking, a rather silly creature near the end and sets that looked more like sets than a sub are all things you are bound to notice. And, the script is occasionally a bit clichéd. But, on the other hand, the film is pretty exciting and seemed to get the most out of its low budget and short filming schedule. Plus, the story underneath it all was quite creative and great. Clever and well worth seeing.
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Any film featuring a one-eyed hairy octopus has to deserve some credit.
Wilbur-1029 June 2000
Warning: Spoilers
'B' grade Sci-Fi which attains, for the first half at least, the heights of a reasonable thriller, as a submarine is dispatched to the arctic circle to investigate the cause of shipping accidents and disappearances.

While the effects are never up to much, the plot and script are more than adequate. The climax of the film is a glorious return to B-movie hokum as an underwater flying saucer is discovered to be the cause of the problems. The scientists reason that the saucer returns to the pole for magnetic energy and they decide to lie in wait in the sub to ram it !! In doing this however, the sub becomes stuck in the saucer and some crew members are dispatched to go inside the saucer and dislodge it.

There is the usual character tension between the young inexperienced scientist on the mission, and the older, wiser navy man, who just happens to be friends with the younger man's father etc. etc. The inside of the spaceship is a lesson in minimalism - simply illuminated gangways in a sea of darkness. These scenes lead to the creature in the saucer which is an octopus-type figure, with one huge eye on a stalk. The creature speaks ( in Queens English ) through thought and turns out to be looking for suitable planets as homes for its advanced race of bug-eyed-hairy-octopi.

Saucer is blasted by a ballistic missile, contradicting the 1950's sci-fi theme of warning against the nuclear arms race. A difficult film to dislike, but a few leagues below 'It Came from Beneath the Sea'.
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Cyclopic Submarine
bobtheplanet23 December 2006
8 out of 10 for effort in the category of lo-budget Sci-Fi Tomfoolery.

What can I say… old "B" grade sci-fi films from the 50's and 60's are really fun to watch. This one is favorite of mine; I'll watch it over and over again. Somehow these movies re-ignite childhood memories of Saturday afternoons at the show or late night TV popcorn fests. Sure they're stinkers, but the odor they emit is as evocative as an exotic fragrance that stimulates half-forgotten memories.

Lots of stock footage; voice-over narration; maps with squiggly chase routes; a solid cast of character actors; cheap, but eerie and imaginative effects… all earmarks of the trashy Drive-in and Matinée fare. Remember "Double Features" or "Triple Features"? Movies like "Atomic Submarine" were the Chinese takeout menu of the 50's cinema scene – quick and filling, but not much else!

If you like ATOMIC SUBMARINE, you'll also like KRONOS; IT, THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE; TARGET EARTH; THE CRAWLING EYE; FIEND WITHOUT A FACE; I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE; THE BRAIN EATERS; THE CURSE OF THE FLY along with many others too numerous to mention. All flawed by their cheapness, but remembered for a few minutes of imaginative storytelling.
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Forgettable B (or Maybe Make That C) Sci-Fi Film
evanston_dad4 June 2013
I decided recently to dive into Criterion's collection of films to find some good stuff that I have either wanted to watch for a long time or that I've never heard of. "The Atomic Submarine" fell into the latter category, and I decided to pair it with "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" as a Criterion sci-fi double feature.

I was left wondering what it is about "The Atomic Submarine" that compelled Criterion to select it over the hundred other similar 50s sci-fi movies they could have included. It's not much longer than a single episode of any number of television series, and it looks like it was made for about $5. It's entertaining in that kitschy retro way that films of this genre from this time period always are, but I found myself trying hard and failing to see what was so good about it that it warrants inclusion in a list of culturally significant films.

The most interesting thing about it to me was that it features the brother of George Sanders in a supporting role.

Grade: C
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Decent Story Makes Up For A Few Weaknesses
sddavis6325 August 2009
I honestly didn't think this was too bad. It's most obvious weaknesses are the very poor special effects, which over and over give a very cheap, low-budget feel to the movie. Having said that, the story - while it perhaps lacked the action that modern sci-fi viewers have come to expect - was not bad. Essentially, there's a mystery involving a number of Maritime disasters that have occurred in the Arctic Ocean, and the atomic submarine Tigershark is sent to investigate. Upon its arrival, it discovers that the disasters are being caused by a flying saucer with a somewhat ridiculous looking alien on board who has plans for his species to colonize the earth. If that sounds familiar, it's probably because it's the plot for about 75% of the episodes of "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea!" The Tigershark doesn't seem as advanced as the Seaview was, but you can certainly see this as a direct ancestor of that movie/TV series. The performances here were all right, if at times a little dry. The attempt to create tension between Reef and Nielson didn't work that well, primarily because I just never understood the level of antipathy Reef seemed to have, the ultimate solution as the submarine faced off against the flying saucer seemed in the end a bit too simple and easy, and the last scene was a little bit too corny, quite frankly. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable enough experience. 7/10
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Charming Fun
Space_Mafune24 September 2002
Which so many familiar Sci-Fi/Horror Genre faces in the cast and with a really cool monster at the end, I feel this 1959 film is loads of fun to watch. I recommend it mainly to those fans of 1950s/60s style Sci-Fi and submarine adventure tales(such as IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, SUBMARINE SEAHAWK, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, etc.).
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John Wyndham Meets Ed Wood
Theo Robertson23 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I knew very little about THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE as the opening credits rolled . I was led to believe it was grade z rubbish with a cult following and it's very easy to see how this reputation came about

The film starts in the recognisable future where atomic submarines are used as vehicles of commerce and we're shown via some laughably unconvincing special effects of a submarine meeting its doom . Words fail me as to how bad the footage is as a toy submarine in a fish tank is destroyed and this stock footage is continually used throughout the film . It should also be noted that shipping mysteriously disappearing as the first stages of an alien invasion had been used as a premise for John Wyndhams watery masterpiece The Kraken Wakes from a few years earlier and you can't help thinking that TAS was heavily influenced by this intelligent apocalyptic classic

Unfortunately both director Spencer Gordon Bennet and screenwriter Orville H Hampton also seem to have been inspired by Ed Woood . Early into the film we're hit over the head by the most intrusive , melodramatic and badly written voice over possible . In screen writing classes you'll be informed that obvious voice over is poor voice over but the narrator goes well beyond bad by referring to things we never see happen on screen . For example we're told that the crew are apprehensive as they sail towards the North Pole which is strange considering most of the crew are unaware what their mission is and are under the impression that it's a routine mission and that problems involving irritation makes themselves felt amongst the crew which is not something that ever appears on screen . Note also the pythonesque map that shows lots of squiggly lines of the submarines route

When the sub gets to the bottom of the mystery that a flying saucer is responsible for the sinkings the story does pick up and shows some imagination on the part of the film makers . The basic set of the saucer interior is so effective simply down to the simplicity of the set and Bennet does manage to manage to bring an eerie other worldliness to the mis en scene . The alien itself might seem some what laughable resembling a cross between a penis and a sock puppet but its mission to either kill or kidnap the crew in order to experiment upon them does again mirror the aims of the aliens in The Kraken Wakes and despite the grade z production values these scenes are relatively chilling and one wonders why the rest of the movie couldn't reach this standard

All in all this is a very flawed SF adventure . It is very memorable but frequently for the wrong reasons which makes THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE one of the most uneven films you will see . It's very good in places but if you're not a fan of sci-fi B movies you'll not want to watch this but if you're a fan it's a pleasant time waster
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down to the sea in shticks
march9hare10 April 2004
A series of unexplained maritime disasters (no, not necessarily this film) prompts the US Government to dispatch its latest and greatest atomic sub to investigate and, if possible, neutralize whatever it finds - in this case, a malevolent monocular alien and his (it's?) living UFO. The cast consists of the usual characters: a hard-nosed, two-fisted manly man Executive Officer (played by Arthur Franz), the level-headed Captain (played by the barely seen Dick Foran), and the vaguely condescending scientist Sir Ian Hunt (played by the for-once-in-his-life-sober Tom Conway). Rounding out the crew are: the crusty CPO, a couple of UDT frogmen (you just KNOW they're gonna get snuffed), a wonderfully discombobulated Sid Melton (a part he plays SO well), a snivelling antiwar oceanographer, and the jaw-droppingly gorgeous girlfriend/flavor-of-the-week (played with impeccable style and subtlety by Joi Lansing, last of the Hollywood Blonde Bombshells. Awright: so who cares if she can't act?). Plotwise, the movie is very similar to "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", except it's shot in glorious black and white, with cheap sets, not-so-special effects, hambone acting, and models that, while very imaginative, look like models. Some of the dialogue is pretty shaky too, especially the exchange between Franz and the colossal, one-eyed alien. Still, this movie has a certain quaint quality about it, and remains one of our favorites. It's one of those "At least it's better than. . ." films. Better than what? Well, "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians", for one; "Murdercycle", for another. Bottom line: it's a good rainy Saturday popcorn movie.
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The Nautilus Saves The Day
bkoganbing24 March 2008
Five years after the Nautilus the first atomic powered submarine made its debut, the nuclear submarine was still a unique enough weapon of war that films could be made about them. Such was this low budget science fiction thriller entitled simply The Atomic Submarine that came from Allied Artists.

Dick Foran is the skipper of the USS Tigerfish and he's been given a heavy duty assignment by the Chief of Naval Operations, Selmar Jackson. Something's been destroying all shipping in the Arctic Sea causing untold damage. The whole crew has been brought aboard, all leaves canceled.

The Executive Officer, Arthur Franz, has a heavy duty date with Joi Lansing so you can imagine it didn't put him in the best of moods. Especially when an old rival, Brett Halsey, is also assigned to the submarine. These two have an artificially scripted conflict which I'm still at a loss to understand. I guess the producers felt they needed something to occupy the time before we found out who's sinking the polar shipping of earth.

Of course it's a particularly nasty alien creature and it's a flying saucer that goes underwater that's doing the job. What he's on earth for and how they deal with it you'll have to see The Atomic Submarine.

Remember at the time The Atomic Submarine was considered the cutting edge of technology. Now practically our whole fleet is nuclear powered so it's not as big a deal as in 1959. The film is set in the futuristic date of 1968 and that's interesting to see what the film's creators take of the near future would be.

Also remember that this is Allied Artists which used to be Monogram Pictures. No great original special effects here just decently edited clips from other submarine and science fiction films.

The Atomic Submarine is a decent enough B film and I'm sure it was big hit with the kiddie trade back in the day.
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Silly 50s B-movie has its fun moments.
Fedor Petrovic (fedor8)26 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This IS a 50s sci-fi cheapie, but the acting is actually reasonable, and the dialog (unfortunately) manages to stay decent most of the time, even though there are moments of verbal silliness; e.g. "I'm not a coward; neither physical nor mental!". The "special effects" are awfully low-budget (on par with any iguana-turns-dinosaur technique), to the point where they are almost lovable, and definitely cute. The sub looks like a miniature toy that even a boy might tire of quickly. The film, though short, manages to drag on a bit in the middle part, as nothing much happens, action- or silliness- wise. There is more nonsense towards the end, when, for example, the submarine captain decides to kamikaze the sub into the UFO. When the small sub actually penetrates the UFO no water threatens any of the crew, nothing at all! I find it quite silly that as many as seven subs have to disappear before the U.S. does something about it - and what do they do? They send another sub (ONE sub!) to investigate and remove the danger! The one-eyed alien must have served as inspiration for the SIMPSONS' one-eyed aliens. The "serious" narration is classic 50s stuff.
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Take her down.
Robert J. Maxwell3 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
There's not much to be said about "Atomic Submarine." It's an inexpensive SF thriller about a nuclear-powered submarine that's sent to the North Pole to find out why ships have been disappearing so often in northern latitudes. The Tiger Shark, with Dick Foran as the commanding officer and Arthur Franz as his exec, finds out. It's a giant undersea UFO. They ram it and are locked with it. A party is sent out in a kind of diving bell to free the sub. The men enter the beastly thing and find it contains a rather large and repellent monster who intends to kidnap them and the colonize Earth -- and so on. The monster is dispatched.

I remember seeing this years ago on TV but I could only remember one scene. Arthur Franz is standing in the doorway of the UFO, staring goggle-eyed at the monster within, which resembles a hairy octopus with one huge Cyclops-like eyeball. "At last we meet, face to face," says the monster. "That's a face?" replies Franz.

The plot's all over the place. It's festooned with icons of the genre. There's atomic power. An undersea mystery. A UFO. A repugnant monster. A plan to colonize earth. A sea-to-air missile. An argument between Lieutenant Commander Franz and the civilian Peacenik aboard. The Peacenik argues that peace is better than war or something like that. A couple of the men give their lives bravely.

It's hard to imagine that this entire film cost more than would be spent on a TV episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The special effects are perfunctory. I would have to see proof that there was more than one take of each shot before I believed it. The Tiger Shark seems to have a crew of about three men.

One of the men is Bob Steele, who had a successful matinée series in the movies during the 1940s. He has one expression -- a scowl. When he cracks jokes with the other two crew members, he scowls. Dick Foran floats through his part weightlessly. It's hard to believe that he was a cowboy in an Abbott and Costello movie who introduced a pretty and tuneful pop song, "I'll Remember April." Arthur Franz, another New Jersey kid, probably does the best acting job. He's at least identifiable as a seasoned professional. (He wasn't bad in the original "The Sniper.") Many of the others, notably Brett Halsey as the Peacenik, give performances that you or I could beat. Halsey, blandly handsome, does nothing but pout. Throughout. Oh, there's Tom Conway as a British scientist on the sub, too. He looks pretty good, considering that booze had made a considerable inroad into his life space by this time. He was soon to become so abjectly alcoholic that his brother, George Sanders, cut off communications with him, the cad. And there's still another scientist, a Russian guy. The best thing about him is his accent. When he tries to pronounce "wonderful", it comes out "VON-dair-fool." I guess they didn't have enough of a budget to hire a technical adviser because their naval protocol is sometimes off base in the most elementary of ways. The captain, Foran, gives an order to his subordinate, the executive officer, Franz. And Franz says, "Very well." He's not supposed to say that. A subordinate, when addressed by a superior officer, says, "Aye aye." It's only when a subordinate reports information to a superior, that the superior replies, "Very well." None of that is important in the context of this sublimely shoddy production. I kind of enjoyed it for its tattiness. But, even with a minuscule budget, a good director can do better. I doubt that "The Thing From Another World" had much of a budget either, but it's light years ahead of this.
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THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE (Spencer Gordon Bennet, 1959) **
MARIO GAUCI27 April 2007
All the shortcomings one would normally associate with low-budget sci-fi are evident in this film: a talky script (whose solemnity, typical of this era, gives rise to unintentional hilarity) which provides little opportunity for action (and this is mostly stock footage and obvious models) and delivers a ridiculous-looking monster (a sort of octopus/cyclops hybrid).

THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE does, however, feature an eclectic cast - comprised of veterans (Dick Foran, Tom Conway and Bob Steele), genre regulars (Arthur Franz) and newcomers (Brett Halsey); the only female character - a blonde bombshell (played by Joi Lansing, Frank Sinatra's then-girlfriend!) who adds some much-needed spice to the film - is regrettably forsaken after the first reel. It's interesting that the spaceship involved is capable of diving underwater - whereas the one in, say, INVADERS FROM MARS (1953; which I rewatched recently), could conceal its presence by hiding in the sand dunes! The vessel's influence on the submarine crew causes them to go berserk: a similar fate befell the astronauts who landed on the PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965); likewise, the Arctic chase plot anticipates THE BEDFORD INCIDENT (1965).

I had read that the Commentary is a dull listen, but I enjoyed it quite a bit: as in his brother Richard's case, Alex Gordon proves very articulate and well-prepared; though he veers off-topic a lot throughout the discussion and, even if he's speaking about unpretentious 'B' horror flicks that were basically intended as exploitation, one is never bored to learn about this particular area of film-making. Gordon also spends a considerable amount of time listing and reminiscing about the old Hollywood stars he continuously employed (even for bit parts) in his films - there's an especially amusing anecdote about Anna Sten. The Criterion DVD also includes, among other things, a nice interview/career overview with the gracious Brett Halsey.
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Nuke powered sub to the rescue
Michael O'Keefe24 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Atomic submarine lanes near the North Pole are being invaded. A string of submariners turn to the government for help. Summoned is the U.S.S. Tiger Shark to deal with the complaints. It is finally determined that the mysterious menace is a one-eyed creature probably from outer space and it appears to have all the power and capabilities than the smartest scientists can imagine. This attacker seems to be being powered by a submerged flying saucer. The world is counting on the Tiger Shark to at least neutralize the monster and destroy the saucer guiding it. Spenser Gordon Bennet directs this B-movie horror flick that stars some familiar actors: Arthur Franz, Bob Steele, Dick Foran, Brett Halsey, Joi Lansing, Jack Muhall and Sid Melton.
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Watchable and sometimes cool but kinda average science fiction joint
Bloodwank8 February 2011
Although pretty much forgotten these days, lost in the vast and crazy whirl of similar budget science fiction of its era, The Atomic Submarine makes a creditable effort at something slightly different to is fellows, albeit not too different. Though the title suggests modernity, technical innovation and perhaps nuclear fear what we really have is an encounter with an entity from beyond our world, the difference being that it takes place beneath the Arctic, in the cold depths of the North Pole. See, something is out and about down there destroying submarines and so the greatest submarine of all and its crew are sent on a search an destroy mission before sub-Arctic travel is rendered a non-viable trade route. The film and its cast do an okay job of brewing up some low grade tension, a mixture of stock footage and model work doesn't always succeed in passing off affairs of taking place where they are claimed, but neither is either inept enough for me to be actually displeased and the focus tends to be more internal anyway, with the submarine tracking its quarry and conflict between the mission commander and a doctor he pretty much despises as a yellow bellied liberal. Political discourse isn't exactly high grade in this one, but Arthur Franz has the right airs and a certain compelling stature as the commander and Brett Halsey conveys a smart but slightly offended dignity as the doctor. Further acting is pretty sound, I'm not familiar with any of the other players really but Tom Conway gives a fun showing as a British scientist, Victor Varconi is stereotypical but interesting as his European counterpart and assorted other folk have appropriate mixtures of duty and derring do in their supporting roles. The trouble with the film is that for a lot of the time, it simply isn't that interesting. The general execution lacks the verisimilitude to maintain constant interest in proceedings, the pacing is a bit slow and the writing is neither smart enough nor overcooked enough to make up for these lacks. As a result, vacant watch-ability flecked with fun is about the highest that the film achieves until it actually gets to the crunch some twenty minutes before the end. Here the film finally becomes a bit of a winner, repaying audience patience with some nifty effects and a fearsome antagonist (handled by the FX team of Jack Rabin, Irving Block and Louis DeWitt who also worked on the classic Kronos), that I suspect freaked out more than a few kids back in the day and are still quite striking now. Its a solidly enjoyable final block and memorable in its way, but even so it's still pretty conventional and after the build up (and given the unusual setting) I was really hoping for a slightly more offbeat pay-off. Still good fun though and as far as my viewing of these movies has gone, an entry in the win column. 6/10 from me, worth a look for genre enthusiasts.
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Good for all the wrong reasons
Kenny Mitchell14 November 2010
It's all here; the flying saucer, atomic submarines, overbearing narration, stock footage, terrible effects and cheap sets. This is B movie writ large. It has an interesting premise, no doubt about it, and must have been a real draw back in 1959. Unfortunately, the rest of the components of the movie doesn't come close to delivering on it.

The story is simple enough, the newest atom sub investigates terrible disasters befalling ships and subs in the arctic, only to discover it may well be an alien intelligence at work. We get lots of bombastic narration, a sure sign of a poor screenplay, and it's slapped over lots of stock footage of several submarines which in no way resemble the models or sets. The model work is uncommonly poor, probably due to the difficulty of simulating underwater and under ice vistas on a budget smaller than a kids allowance. It's charming and interesting to look at, but still poor and never conveys any real scale.

As for the acting and script, we have several faces familiar to 50's B movie fans, and they do what they can with a sub par script. The supposed conflict between the 'hero' and the son of his mentor is so forced that you wonder why no one just slaps him or sacks him on the spot. They actually look a little embarrassed delivering the lines. The sets are pretty sparse too, both in looks and number. You could count the locations on one hand, not including the fish tank used for the special effects, with the UFO being particularly minimalist. The scene with the young guy piloting the mini sub in particular stands out as there are no controls for him to work, so he plays with a graph pen while 4 guys in frogmen gear stand around watching him struggle to improvise.

All things considered it's no classic, but that won't stop genre fans watching it to the end. It's a bit slow and a bit rubbish, but it's heart is in the right place and you want to like it despite it's flaws. Go see it for free at the Internet archives and see for yourself.
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"It was foolish. It was insane. It was fantastic."
bensonmum28 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Submarines and ships begin disappearing at an alarming rate near the Arctic Circle. The crew of the Tiger Shark, an atomic submarine, is sent to investigate. They discover a mysterious craft they name the Cyclops because of its one "eye". When the submarine's torpedoes prove worthless against the Cyclops' defenses, the decision is made to ram the strange craft. The Tiger Shark appears to have been successful in "killing" the other craft, but it's now stuck in the Cyclops' outer hull. A team is sent to enter the dormant looking craft to try to free the submarine. But the Cyclops isn't as dormant as it first appears. The men find an alien being very much alive and still determined to take over the world.

Overall, The Atomic Submarine is a fun little movie. I see that a lot of people focus on the less than realistic looking miniatures. Why let something like that ruin the rest of the movie? As I've stated any number of times, I find a certain charm to the low budget special effects found in movies like The Atomic Submarine. I'll cut 'em more slack than I will today's big budget, heartless, CGI effects. Instead of the effects, my problems with the movie lies in the very slow first act and a controversy between two of the characters that feels forced. But once the submarine enters the Arctic waters, things pick-up and it moves at a good, entertaining pace form here on out. The interior shots of the alien ship are especially creepy. It may all be lights, shadows, and noise, but that doesn't make it any less effective. It's downright spooky! The acting is about what you expect from a mostly veteran cast that includes Dick Foran, Tom Conway, and Arthur Franz – nothing terrible, but nothing outstanding. The exception is Brett Halsey whose constant pout is a bit much at times. I was excited to see Joi Lansing's name in the opening credits, but soon discovered that her screen-time was limited to about 5 minutes. Finally, I appreciate the chances screenwriter Orville Hampton took with the plot. The idea of an undersea UFO is quite novel as far as I know.
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Another Black and White Sci-Fi Romp from '59
Flixer195723 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
**May Contain Spoilers**

Submarines are disappearing at an alarming rate in the Arctic Circle–so naturally, the submarine of the title is sent to investigate. Dick Foran is the skipper, Tom Conway plays an egghead scientist and Brett Halsey appears as a pacifist before that sort of character became fashionable. The culprit behind the disappearances is an undersea flying saucer that can self-repair damage done by the Earth-men. This black and white sci-fi romp is enjoyable for the right reasons-–down-to-earth protagonists played by capable character actors, impressive sets–-and a few of the wrong reasons including a flying saucer that looks like a leftover from PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and an alien that resembles a giant turd with tentacles and one eye. Lest I make it sound too amusing and sedate, there are deaths by radiation and an airlock that closes at the worst possible time. Between this flick, THE ANGRY RED PLANET and PLAN 9, 1959 was a banner year for spaceships and bizarre critters from outer space.
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creature features classic
vampi19601 September 2006
When i was a kid i first seen this on creature features channel 5 in new jersey,it was wild of course today its very campy but its a fun b movie from allied artists.with a great cast;dick foran(the mummy's hand) Bret Halsey(return of the fly)tom Conway(the she creature)Arthur Franz(invaders from mars)and joi Lansing.made on a shoestring budget but very high on suspense and drama.its about a submarine crew investigating the disappearances of navel subs in the north pole. there's a flying saucer and a horrible one eyed alien.i would call this a Saturday matinée classic from 1960.well call me kooky but i give atomic submarine 7 out of 10.
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Voyage to the Bottom of the Artic Sea
BaronBl00d3 August 2005
I know this is cheap science fiction, but it's cheap science fiction at its best. Sure, this is a corny, technologically inept film about an atomic sub being sent to the Artic Ocean to investigate what has been happening to other subs and ships. Once there, the crew soon realizes that their enemy isn't human but of the alien kind. Then the chase begins as the sub chases the underwater alien flying saucer in a cat and mouse game across the frozen waters of the Artic. The movie has all those 50's sci-fi elements that make it so appealing to me: a serious narrator stressing the importance of their quest, mock-scientific data that sounds plausible yet you know is so ludicrous, good, solid character acting from the likes of Dick Foran, Tom Conway, etc..., Joi Lansing(need I say more), and another man against alien scenario where fighting for humanity and the American way of life is treasured above all. Before I get too gushy, I do need to mention that this film has lots of faults too...big ones. The special effects are anything but. The sub looks like a model the whole time. The saucer looks like one too, and just wait till you see the alien. Whew! The acting though solid is nothing more. Nobody gives a standout performance and the leads,particularly Arthur Franz and Brett Halsey, are a little on the weak side. The direction is competent yet not dazzling or spectacular in any way. This is just a good old-fashioned science fiction film from the 1950s. It isn't one of the best from the era, but it does stand up well nonetheless today.
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