Master of the World

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Master of the World

Post  BoG on Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:31 pm



Based on two Jules Verne novels, Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World, adapted by Richard Matheson. The plot is a virtual copy of Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (adapted into the 1954 film): 4 persons (a government agent played by Charles Bronson with civilians Henry Hull, Mary Webster and David Frankham) become wary guests on board the fantastic airship The Albatross, commanded by Robur (Vincent Price). Robur has decided to do away with the evils of the world by destroying all the weapons of mankind with his own weapon, his airship and its huge stockpile of drop missile bombs. The time is 1868.
Much of the drama stems from the conflict between Bronson's pragmatic agent and Frankham's archaic sense of honor. Frankham's character is the gentleman-type who would warn Robur ahead of time what his intentions are before foiling him, a tactic which Bronson finds to be stupid. On top of that, there's more tension between the two later over the young woman (Webster). The film is hampered by extensive use of stock footage from earlier films THE FOUR FEATHERS (1939 Battle Scene of African Tribe), THAT HAMILTON WOMEN (1941 Destruction Of The Royal Navy) and HENRY V (1944 Overflight of The Thames & London).  Some of this is not a good match - the Navy ships footage is in black & white.
Webster actually gives the better performance; the men are either too melodramatic or, in Bronson's case, a bit stiff.  Most familiar with this film believe that Bronson was miscast, as does writer Matheson; many think that an AIP contract player such as Jack Nicholson or Dick Miller would have been better. Bronson does seem anomalous here, but he still cuts a man-of-action figure, hot of his Magnificent Seven role. Hull hams it up shamelessly but is strangely entertaining. Frankham is unlikable. Price is Price.  Since this is an AIP film, the FX are very cheap compared to the '54 Disney film. BoG's Score: 5 out of 10




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