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When I think of big budget fifties sci-fi, the ones that come to mind are Forbidden Planet & War of the Worlds, maybe the The Day the Earth Stood Still, which was so early in the decade. Though this one is memorable, I guess I don't think of it right away because of the time frame - around 1870 in the film. Sometimes, it's difficult to think of a film as sci-fi when it takes place way back in the 19th century. This is Steampunk before it was defined as such.
The main cast is great - the main four actors - and that's one of the reasons this film is superior to most of that era, but Mason always stood out to me, especially when I first saw this as a kid. He's such a presence here since he first appears in the film - intense, imposing, sinister and almost supernaturally intelligent. Of course, it's a superior character. Jules Verne and films brought him back in Mysterious Island (61), Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (69) and a few others, including the recent The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).
But, what really stands out here is the set design and the models. Harper Goff was the one responsible for the look of the ship and Emile Kuri the interiors - that Victorian touch under the sea - fantastic! The visuals look impressive enough just as stills. Goff had some arguments with Disney on some of these designs - the ship, for example. Disney visualized a much more simpler ship design, like a long silver tube, and I think Verne himself described it this way. But Goff stood his ground on his plans.
Makes you want to create your own submarine to relax in, doesn't it? BoG's Score: 8.5 out of 10
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