Journey to the Center of the Earth

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Journey to the Center of the Earth

Post  BoG on Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:08 pm

Of all the film attempt adaptations at a sci-fi Jules Verne tale, this came closest to matching the success of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). Around the World in 80  Days in 1956 was also a great success but was not really sci-fi. James Mason also returns from his stint as Capt. Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to portray the character of Prof. Lindenbrook, the one who drives the tale. The story takes place in 1863 Edinburgh, where Lindenbrook is the premiere geologist and university lecturer. His student (Pat Boone) gifts him with a rock he bought in a curio shop and this rock turns out to contain evidence of a journey into the Earth taken by famous Arne Saknussem 300 years earlier. Lindenbrook and his pupil journey to Iceland to retrace Saknussem's steps. However, once there, they find competition, intrigue and murder. They finally begin their descent with the wife (Arlene Dahl) of their competitor and a tall local Icelander (Peter Ronson) and his duck.
The film becomes a kind of unique travelogue; the audience waits to see what next interesting or astounding thing the explorers will encounter. The film is benefited by some good humor - mostly from Mason's irascible, impatient and stuffy professor, but also from the other characters; Boone's young man is afraid of heights, for example. Boone was at the height of his singing career here but didn't have a long film career, and the real star is Mason. Dahl also does well as the female member. Diane Baker plays the young lady waiting for her uncle and fiancee to return. There's also a sense of constant danger, of this underground world constantly throwing another obstacle or threat against the group. The foursome eventually encounter another kind of threat, a 5th explorer - a descendant of Saknussem (Thayer David), a count who practices deceit and eats duck. By the end, there are large lizards and a volcanic upheaval. BoG's Score: 8 out of 10
Trivia to the Center:
probably better known nowadays is the more cartoonish 2008 version starring Brendan Fraser; there was also a Spanish 1977 version
and a 1993 TV Movie with Tim Russ (Star Trek Voyager):
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