Mysterious Island


1h 41m 1961
Mysterious Island

Brief Synopsis

Escaped Civil War POWs end up on an island populated by giant animals.

Film Details

Genre
Adventure
Fantasy
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 20 Dec 1961
Production Company
Ameran Films
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel L'île mystérieuse by Jules Verne (Paris, 1874).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In 1865, following the siege of Richmond toward the close of the Civil War, three Union soldiers, a Northern newspaperman, and a Rebel sergeant escape from a Confederate prison in an observation balloon and are carried across the country and far out over the Pacific. A violent storm forces them down on a tiny tropical island; there they find giant creatures (land crabs, roosters, and bees) but no signs of human life. One day they are joined by two women, the sole survivors of a shipwreck. As the little community grows, a pirate ship enters the lagoon and is mysteriously exploded and sunk. At this point a stranger emerges from the sea and announces himself as Captain Nemo. For the past 8 years he has been living on the island and experimenting in the mutation of animals in the hope that the development of such mammoth creatures may solve the world's food problems. The island's volcano will erupt in a few days, he tells the group, and they must try to refloat the sunken pirate ship. By means of the observation balloon, the vessel is raised; and all scramble aboard just as the volcano erupts--all, that is, except Captain Nemo; for by remaining behind until everyone else is safe, he is trapped by tons of rock and lava.

Photo Collections

Mysterious Island (1961) - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Columbia's Mysterious Island (1961), featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Film Details

Genre
Adventure
Fantasy
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 20 Dec 1961
Production Company
Ameran Films
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel L'île mystérieuse by Jules Verne (Paris, 1874).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Mysterious Island (1961)


During the Civil War, three Union prisoners, a Rebel deserter and a Northern journalist escape from a Confederate prison following the siege of Richmond. They make their getaway in an observation balloon during a violent storm but they don't exactly land in familiar terrain. Because of the freakish weather, the balloon is swept by winds across the Pacific Ocean and drops down on a seemingly uninhabited tropical island. There, the four escapees are joined by two shipwreck survivors - both women - and soon find themselves battling the elements, pirates, and oversized creatures looking for human-sized snacks. Welcome to Mysterious Island (1961)! Was this the original inspiration for TV's Survivor series?

Based on the novel by Jules Verne, Mysterious Island was written as a sequel to Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and continues the exploits of the latter novel's megalomaniacal submarine commander, Captain Nemo, who becomes the true hero of Mysterious Island but doesn't make an appearance until the film's second half. It appears that the Nautilus (with Nemo aboard) was not destroyed at the climax of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Instead, Nemo escaped to this topical paradise where he's been experimenting with animal mutations for the past eight years. That explains the presence of giant birds, crabs, bees, you name it. All were accidental by-products of Nemo's attempts to solve the world's food problems. Of course, these mutant beings are part of the film's eternal appeal and are brought to life by special effects master Ray Harryhausen. Being the consummate perfectionist, Harryhausen wasn't always pleased with his final handiwork, especially in the case of the giant bird: "It was a prehistoric Phorohacos but owing to script deletions its antediluvian origin was discarded. Most reviewers and audiences assumed it to be an overgrown chicken." One sequence that was slated to be filmed but never made it into the final production featured a giant man-eating plant. Harryhausen decided to replace this effect instead with a battle scene between the islanders and a huge sea snail.

For the monstrous crab, Harryhausen used the shell of a real crustacean for his stop-motion model. On the screen it appears to be over 15 feet wide but in reality was no bigger than a toy action figure. Still, it proves to be a major threat to the islanders until it's toppled into a boiling hot spring and transformed into the biggest crab dinner you've ever seen. The horrifically overgrown baby bird a.k.a. Phorohacos, which tries to peck our cast to death, also ends up on the dinner menu and should have you smacking your lips over the massive drumstick sizzling on the spit. Yes, this island is dangerous but one thing is clear - there's good eatin' on Mysterious Island.

Of all the many film versions of Mysterious Island, this 1961 version, directed by Cy Endfield, is generally considered to be the most popular, if not the most faithful. In addition to the wonderful visual effects of Harryhausen, the distinctive music score is by the great Bernard Herrmann, who scored several of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest pictures (Vertigo, 1958, Psycho, 1960). Other versions include the 1929 MGM adaptation starring Lionel Barrymore, a Russian rendition in 1941, a fifteen-episode Columbia serial in 1952 and an international production entitled The Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo starring Omar Sharif in 1973.

Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Cy Endfield
Screenplay: John Prebble, Daniel B. Ullman, Crane Wilbur, based on a novel by Jules Verne
Cinematography: Wilkie Cooper
Film Editing: Frederick Wilson
Art Direction: William C. Andrews
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: Michael Craig (Capt. Cyrus Harding), Michael Callan (Herbert Brown), Beth Rogan (Elena Fairchild), Gary Merrill (Gideon Spilett), Herbert Lom (Captain Nemo), Joan Greenwood (Lady Mary Fairchild).
C-101m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford
Mysterious Island (1961)

Mysterious Island (1961)

During the Civil War, three Union prisoners, a Rebel deserter and a Northern journalist escape from a Confederate prison following the siege of Richmond. They make their getaway in an observation balloon during a violent storm but they don't exactly land in familiar terrain. Because of the freakish weather, the balloon is swept by winds across the Pacific Ocean and drops down on a seemingly uninhabited tropical island. There, the four escapees are joined by two shipwreck survivors - both women - and soon find themselves battling the elements, pirates, and oversized creatures looking for human-sized snacks. Welcome to Mysterious Island (1961)! Was this the original inspiration for TV's Survivor series? Based on the novel by Jules Verne, Mysterious Island was written as a sequel to Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and continues the exploits of the latter novel's megalomaniacal submarine commander, Captain Nemo, who becomes the true hero of Mysterious Island but doesn't make an appearance until the film's second half. It appears that the Nautilus (with Nemo aboard) was not destroyed at the climax of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Instead, Nemo escaped to this topical paradise where he's been experimenting with animal mutations for the past eight years. That explains the presence of giant birds, crabs, bees, you name it. All were accidental by-products of Nemo's attempts to solve the world's food problems. Of course, these mutant beings are part of the film's eternal appeal and are brought to life by special effects master Ray Harryhausen. Being the consummate perfectionist, Harryhausen wasn't always pleased with his final handiwork, especially in the case of the giant bird: "It was a prehistoric Phorohacos but owing to script deletions its antediluvian origin was discarded. Most reviewers and audiences assumed it to be an overgrown chicken." One sequence that was slated to be filmed but never made it into the final production featured a giant man-eating plant. Harryhausen decided to replace this effect instead with a battle scene between the islanders and a huge sea snail. For the monstrous crab, Harryhausen used the shell of a real crustacean for his stop-motion model. On the screen it appears to be over 15 feet wide but in reality was no bigger than a toy action figure. Still, it proves to be a major threat to the islanders until it's toppled into a boiling hot spring and transformed into the biggest crab dinner you've ever seen. The horrifically overgrown baby bird a.k.a. Phorohacos, which tries to peck our cast to death, also ends up on the dinner menu and should have you smacking your lips over the massive drumstick sizzling on the spit. Yes, this island is dangerous but one thing is clear - there's good eatin' on Mysterious Island. Of all the many film versions of Mysterious Island, this 1961 version, directed by Cy Endfield, is generally considered to be the most popular, if not the most faithful. In addition to the wonderful visual effects of Harryhausen, the distinctive music score is by the great Bernard Herrmann, who scored several of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest pictures (Vertigo, 1958, Psycho, 1960). Other versions include the 1929 MGM adaptation starring Lionel Barrymore, a Russian rendition in 1941, a fifteen-episode Columbia serial in 1952 and an international production entitled The Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo starring Omar Sharif in 1973. Producer: Charles H. Schneer Director: Cy Endfield Screenplay: John Prebble, Daniel B. Ullman, Crane Wilbur, based on a novel by Jules Verne Cinematography: Wilkie Cooper Film Editing: Frederick Wilson Art Direction: William C. Andrews Music: Bernard Herrmann Cast: Michael Craig (Capt. Cyrus Harding), Michael Callan (Herbert Brown), Beth Rogan (Elena Fairchild), Gary Merrill (Gideon Spilett), Herbert Lom (Captain Nemo), Joan Greenwood (Lady Mary Fairchild). C-101m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Captain... what language is this?
- Neb Nugent
It's Latin. "Mihi libertas necessest."
- Captain Cyrus Harding
"I must have liberty."
- Lady Mary Fairchild

Trivia

Producer Charles H. Schneer claimed that he choose this story after reading an article stating that Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island" was the most looked at book at public libraries.

Ray Harryhausen has related the story of watching a cut of the film with composer Bernard Herrmann. In a sequence involving a giant bird, Herrmann stated that he was going to score it with "Turkey in the Straw". Herrmann was only kidding.

One of the factors that led to the green lighting of this project was the huge success of a film with a similar story, Swiss Family Robinson (1960) that was made by Walt Disney.

The crabs that attacked the castaways were real. They were cooked before the sequence was filmed.

The opening scenes at the Confederate prison camp were shot in England and the exteriors were shot at Shepperton Square.

Notes

Filmed in England and released there in 1962.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1961

Released in United States 1961