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Master of the World (1961)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Sci-Fi | May 1961 (USA)
In 1868, an American scientist and his team become hostages of fanatical pacifist Robur who uses his airship Albatross to destroy military targets on Earth.

Director:

William Witney

Writers:

Richard Matheson (screenplay), Jules Verne (based on two novels by: "Master of the World" and "Robur, the Conqueror")
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Vincent Price ... Robur
Charles Bronson ... John Strock
Henry Hull ... Prudent
Mary Webster ... Dorothy Prudent
David Frankham ... Phillip Evans
Richard Harrison ... Alistair
Vito Scotti ... 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:

Adventure | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jules Verne's Master of the World See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Alta Vista Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (including prologue)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (StereoSonic Sound) (uncredited)

Color:

Color (Magnacolor) (uncredited)| Black and White (archive material)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the end titles credit the song "Master of the World" with music by Les Baxter, lyrics by Lenny Adelson and sung by Darryl Stevens, there is actually no song in the released film. As a matter of interest, Intrada for its 2009 soundtrack CD managed to trace the missing song, which turns out to be a haunting, alternate version of the end title. After the song was dropped, it was still credited on screen, but the chosen end title has just orchestra and choir. The lost lyrics go as follows: "Any man is Master of the World / If he has wandered in the world / And found his love / And of all the secrets of the earth / He has the only treasure worth / Dreaming of / If he rules just one heart a man is a king / It seems as though his soul has taken wing / And like the stars that fly on high above the earth / A man is Master of the World / When he is loved!" See more »

Goofs

Robur's ship flies over a battle being waged in the African desert. When he looks through his scope, African scenery appears, but out the front window of the aircraft, the scenery is from what looks like the California mountains. See more »

Quotes

Prudent: [debating with Robur over dinner] And you expect us to believe, sir, that because you gave that ship warning, that your actions of this afternoon were justifiable?
Robur: I expect nothing, sir.
Prudent: What you did was an act of pure barbarism, and were it not for the love I bear my daughter, and for the respect and esteem in which I hold Mr. Evans and Mr. Strock, I would rather the four of us perish in the sea than that this hell ship be preserved for the commission of further atrocities.
Robur: Was it not an ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing credits: "I take my dream with me. But it will not be lost to humanity. It will belong to you the day the world is educated enough to profit by it and wise enough not to abuse it" From Jules Verne's MASTER OF THE WORLD See more »

Alternate Versions

The Warner Home Video version runs 95 minutes and has no prologue sequence. The Orion Home Video version runs 99 minutes with the sequence. The laser disc version also includes the original exit music which brings the running time to 104 minutes. 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

 
A Fun Little Film, Though Strange By Today's Standards
1 March 2011 | by gavin6942See all my reviews

A sleepy Pennsylvania town is awakened in 1868 when Captain Robur (Vincent Price) comes sailing in on his airship. A few of the city locals join him, curious about this new way to fly, and eager to stop him when they think he has had a bit too much power for his own good.

Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved the prologue, which was perfect for this film. The montage of various flying devices that did not work. Some of this footage has become classic, but it fit the theme perfectly here: a world where the only way to fly is with balloons suddenly seeing a new method in disbelief.

Vincent Price is great as Captain Robur, but when is he not? He would go on to declare this one of his favorite roles. Charles Bronson plays the other lead, John Strock, and may surprise fans of Bronson. (Some have said he was miscast, but I do not see any problem with it.) We also have Henry Hull as Prudent, more or less representing the "old ways" (which are quite old by now, given the story takes place just after the Civil War).

David Frankham is also great, and interestingly came on board thanks to Vincent Price. His role was already filled by AIP regular Mark Damon, but Damon skipped out to film another project. Price suggested Frankham because they had worked on "Return of the Fly" together. Frankham is not as well known as Damon, but he is a valuable resource because he has provided multiple commentaries in recent years.

Richard Matheson wrote the script, based on two Jules Verne stories. Matheson has consistently been a great writer, particularly in conjunction with Vincent Price and AIP. Jules Verne is not a source used often enough -- beyond "Around the World in 80 Days" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", his work remains largely untouched. This film proves that more can be done -- and also that you can get around the world in ten days.

Interestingly, the plot revolves around a man who thinks he can end war by using the threat of invincibility. While the idea of having a war on war is admirable, one has to wonder if Matheson had in mind the nuclear bomb when writing the script -- surely the bomb's creation was thought to end war as we knew it, but only encouraged others to acquire nuclear bombs. Likewise, one assumes that governments would push to build Robur-style airships.

Vincent Price (or Charles Bronson) fans should check this one out. It is not a horror film, not by any means. It is typically classified as science fiction, though I would put it more in fantasy. Price still has a bit of the villain inside him here, but it is not the murderous, insane type... it is a misunderstood, misguided antihero.

As always, the definitive edition is on Scream Factory's Vincent Price Collection (Volume 3). We have an incredible audio commentary with David Frankham and a moderator named Jonathan -- Frankham is very knowledgeable about Les Baxter, and even offers a slight diversion to discuss "Werewolf of London". Few people alive today know the AIP of the 1960s like Frankham. The disc also includes the full-length documentary "Richard Matheson: Storyteller", which is priceless and will be covered in its own review.


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