Film (1961). American Films/Columbia. Produced by Charles H Schneer. Directed by Cy Endfield. Written by John Prebble, Daniel Ullman, Crane Wilbur, based on L'île mystérieuse (1874-1875; trans W H G Kingston as The Mysterious Island 1875) by Jules Verne. Cast includes Michael Callan, Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood and Herbert Lom. 100 minutes. Colour.
This is a jovial showcase for Ray Harryhausen's robust special effects, with a luxuriant musical score by Bernard Herrmann. Prisoners escape by balloon from a confederate Prison during the American Civil War and are washed ashore on a remote Pacific island. They encounter a giant crab, two female castaways, a giant prehistoric bird, huge bees, pirates, a deserted underwater city, Captain Nemo (Lom) himself, with his famous submarine Nautilus and, of course, an erupting volcano.
Other versions include one made by MGM in 1929. Directed by Lucien Hubbard, Maurice Tourneur, Benjamin Christiansen, it starred Lionel Barrymore as Count Dakkar (Nemo). The screenplay was by Hubbard; a soundtrack was added at the last moment. A Russian version, Tainstvenni Ostrov, was – surprisingly – made in wartime, in 1941. In 1951 Sam Katzman produced a 15-part serial for Columbia, directed by Spencer G Bennett and starring Richard Crane, Marshall Reed, Karen Randle. A little-seen French/Italian/Spanish coproduction, L'Isola Misteriosa e il Capitano Nemo, starring Omar Sharif, was briefly released as The Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo (1972) in the USA. [JB/PN]
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