Krakatoa, East of Java


2h 16m 1969

Brief Synopsis

A salvage boat's captain gets mixed up with island convicts during a volcanic eruption.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
G
Genre
Adventure
Action
Disaster
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 May 1969
Production Company
Security Pictures
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Island of Maijorca, Spain

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 16m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1

Synopsis

In 1883 the Batavia Queen leaves Singapore harbor. Her destination is the coast of volcanic island Krakatoa, where a ship laden with pearls has sunk. Among her passengers are Laura, widow of the lost ship's captain; Rigby, a claustrophobic diving bell pilot; the Borgheses, father and son balloonists; and Toshi, the leader of a team of Japanese diving girls. Also aboard are 30 prisoners, including the convict Danzig, who is given freedom of the deck. As the ship approaches Krakatoa, catastrophes occur in rapid succession, including accidents and natural disasters. Caught while aloft in the updraft of Krakatoa, the Borgheses save themselves by diving into the sea. Led by Danzig, the mutinous prisoners briefly control the ship. Captain Hanson retaliates by killing the convict and setting his fellows adrift in lifeboats. Upon recovering the sunken ship's safe, all are shocked to discover it empty, save for a log. Although Laura placates the passengers by assuring them that the diary specifies the treasure's location, she later reveals that she is searching for her son, left by her husband at a Catholic mission. When the Batavia Queen rescues the mission's staff from a sampan, the boy is among those saved. Presented by her son with the coveted pearls, Laura begins division of the treasure. However, Krakatoa erupts, causing a massive tidal wave. To escape certain destruction the ship takes to the open seas.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
G
Genre
Adventure
Action
Disaster
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 May 1969
Production Company
Security Pictures
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Island of Maijorca, Spain

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 16m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Visual Effects

1969
Eugene Lourie

Articles

Krakatoa, East of Java


In the disaster film genre, Krakatoa, East of Java (1969) holds the distinction of being the only one presented in the Cinerama widescreen format but is also the most erroneously titled movie of all time. As many historians and movie critics have pointed out, Krakatoa is WEST of Java but veracity is not one of Hollywood's strengths in producing historical epics. And Krakatoa, East of Java is not a factual recreation of the famous 1883 volcanic eruption in the Indian Ocean but a lavish B-movie adventure that uses the cataclysmic event only as the background and climactic resolution to its cavalcade of international stars and multiple subplots that play out as pure soap opera.

In a storyline that shares many similarities with the Fred MacMurray costume drama, Fair Wind to Java (1953), Captain Chris Hanson (Maximilian Schell) has gathered together a select group of individuals for a deep sea diving mission with the objective of locating a sunken ship off the coast of Krakatoa that contains a fortune in pearls. Laura Travis (Diane Baker), the source of Hanson's information, however, has little credibility among her fellow passengers. She is still recovering from a mental breakdown brought on by an abusive husband who abandoned her and hijacked their son Peter when she began an affair with Captain Hanson. Joining them on the expedition are Douglas Rigby (former British pop singer John Leyton), an oceanographer with claustrophobia; The Flying Borgheses (Rossano Brazzi & Sal Mineo), a father-son balloonist team; Connerly (Brian Keith), a laudanum-addicted deep sea diver and his mistress Charley (Barbara Werle), a former saloon hostess; Toshi (Jacqui Chan), an experienced pearl diver and her all-girl Japanese team; plus a human cargo of thirty chained prisoners that Capt. Hanson was ordered by the government to transport to a penal colony near Krakatoa. Mix in a laudanum hallucination freak-out scene by Connerly, a musical striptease by Charley, a mutiny of the prisoners led by the villainous Dauzig (J. D. Cannon), a near-fatal balloon accident, and the constant special effects rumblings and eruptions of the Krakatoa volcano and you have a multimillion dollar movie serial that harkens back to the more innocent days of Captain America (1944) and Perils of Nyoka (1942).

Clearly the producers of Krakatoa, East of Java were less interested in creating a literate epic on the order of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962) than a slam bang action entertainment on the level of How the West Was Won (also 1962), which was filmed and presented in the widescreen format known as Cinerama. Krakatoa, East of Java was also a Cinerama presentation though it was actually filmed in Todd-AO and Super Panavision 70. At the time of its release, however, interest in widescreen road-show presentations like Krakatoa was waning. In fact, the peak years for the Cinerama phenomena were between 1952 when This Is Cinerama became the highest grossing film of that year and 1963 when It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the second ranked box office hit of the year. By the time, Krakatoa, East of Java reached movie screens the Cinerama Releasing Corporation was experiencing financial difficulties and was functioning almost solely as a film distributor (For Love of Ivy and Hell in the Pacific [both 1968] were among some of their acquisitions). The company was liquidated in 1978 and its chain of movie houses was absorbed by Pacific Theatres.

Seen outside of its original Cinerama presentation on a movie theatre screen, Krakatoa, East of Java must seem like a true oddity now. The film's producers may have been aiming for a family-friendly adventure epic but, wanting to also attract adult audiences, they added some questionable material - the tortured Connerly-Charley relationship and Laura's illicit backstory - that seriously detracts from the film's pacing. It was no secret that Krakatoa, East of Java was a troubled production. One of the original producers, Phil Yordan (El Cid, King of Kings, both 1961) dropped out of the project after the special effects were shot; after his departure a new associate producer was brought on board and a new screenplay was commissioned. The confusion of tone is constant and often provides unintentional amusement, particularly the inclusion of some inappropriate songs. In an opening sequence, island children are led by nuns in a sing-along - "Teacher, Teacher" - leading us to believe that this is a musical disaster film. Later, during the title credits, we hear the romantic strains of Krakatoa's theme song, "Java Girl" (music by De Vol, lyrics by Hal David) over images of filthy prisoners being led into the ship's hold and sweaty deckhands raising the sails. But the real showstopper is Barbara Werle's excruciating rendition of "I'm an Old Fashioned Girl" which she performs, stripping off her Victorian era clothes, as a prelude to sex with Brian Keith's self-destructive loser. In fact, Werle's character Charley is one of the more absurd characters on board with dialogue to match. "Don't put labels on jelly jars," she angrily tells Giovanni Borghese (Rossano Brazzi) when he insults her man. "I've seen the nice guys with the smiling faces and white collars pinch bottoms and I've seen the mean ones....pinch bottoms too. So don't tell me about labels. I've seen the one they've put on Harry."

Krakatoa, East of Java was not a financial success and most critics trashed it when it opened. The San Francisco Chronicle stated that "those who made it have absolutely no skill in story-telling" and the New York Daily News noted that "by the time they have dunked you in a raging volcano; deafened you with underwater explosions; scorched you with volcanic fireworks, and, finally drowned you in a tidal wave, you will be too numb to notice how really unexciting and uninvolving it all is." Nevertheless, the film found a few advocates to champion its merits. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "one of the best movies ever made in Cinerama" and even wrote, "Rich in the atmosphere of exotic faraway places, it is so buoyant and bracing you can almost smell the sea air." Even Gary Arnold of The Washington Post found it refreshing: "In a week dominated by terminal cases of wretched big screen photography - Mackenna's Gold with its livid process shots in Super Panavision and Sweet Charity with its TV color and Brobdignaggian close-ups in 70 mm Panavision - Krakatoa, East of Java seemed rather pleasant."

The film received another popular endorsement when it was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects by Eugene Lourie and Alex Weldon (it lost to Marooned). Admittedly, the visual effects are fun though hokey and the rear-screen projection, matte paintings, process shots and stuntwork look quaint by today's CGI standards. Interestingly enough, Krakatoa, East of Java enjoyed a second life in theatrical release under the title of Volcano in the seventies when films in "Sensurround" such as Earthquake (1974) became the rage; Krakatoa, East of Java was reprocessed and released in "Feelarama," a variation of Sensurround. Discrepancies continue today over the original running time of the film which was purported to be 127 minutes minus the opening overture, intermission and exit music though some re-edited versions have resurfaced on television and in 16mm prints with a running time of 101 minutes.

Producer: William R. Forman, Lester A. Sansom, Philip Yordan
Director: Bernard L. Kowalski
Screenplay: Bernard Gordon, Cliff Gould
Cinematography: Manuel Berenguer
Film Editing: Walter Hannemann, Warren Low, Maurice Rootes
Art Direction: Julio Molina, Luis Perez Espinosa
Music: Frank De Vol
Cast: Maximilian Schell (Hanson), Diane Baker (Laura), Brian Keith (Connerly), Barbara Werle (Charley), John Leyton (Rigby), J.D. Cannon (Dauzig).
C-131m. Letterboxed.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES:
Wide Screen Movies by Robert E. Carr and R.M. Hayes
Widescreen Cinema by John Belton
Filmfacts
IMDB
Krakatoa, East Of Java

Krakatoa, East of Java

In the disaster film genre, Krakatoa, East of Java (1969) holds the distinction of being the only one presented in the Cinerama widescreen format but is also the most erroneously titled movie of all time. As many historians and movie critics have pointed out, Krakatoa is WEST of Java but veracity is not one of Hollywood's strengths in producing historical epics. And Krakatoa, East of Java is not a factual recreation of the famous 1883 volcanic eruption in the Indian Ocean but a lavish B-movie adventure that uses the cataclysmic event only as the background and climactic resolution to its cavalcade of international stars and multiple subplots that play out as pure soap opera. In a storyline that shares many similarities with the Fred MacMurray costume drama, Fair Wind to Java (1953), Captain Chris Hanson (Maximilian Schell) has gathered together a select group of individuals for a deep sea diving mission with the objective of locating a sunken ship off the coast of Krakatoa that contains a fortune in pearls. Laura Travis (Diane Baker), the source of Hanson's information, however, has little credibility among her fellow passengers. She is still recovering from a mental breakdown brought on by an abusive husband who abandoned her and hijacked their son Peter when she began an affair with Captain Hanson. Joining them on the expedition are Douglas Rigby (former British pop singer John Leyton), an oceanographer with claustrophobia; The Flying Borgheses (Rossano Brazzi & Sal Mineo), a father-son balloonist team; Connerly (Brian Keith), a laudanum-addicted deep sea diver and his mistress Charley (Barbara Werle), a former saloon hostess; Toshi (Jacqui Chan), an experienced pearl diver and her all-girl Japanese team; plus a human cargo of thirty chained prisoners that Capt. Hanson was ordered by the government to transport to a penal colony near Krakatoa. Mix in a laudanum hallucination freak-out scene by Connerly, a musical striptease by Charley, a mutiny of the prisoners led by the villainous Dauzig (J. D. Cannon), a near-fatal balloon accident, and the constant special effects rumblings and eruptions of the Krakatoa volcano and you have a multimillion dollar movie serial that harkens back to the more innocent days of Captain America (1944) and Perils of Nyoka (1942). Clearly the producers of Krakatoa, East of Java were less interested in creating a literate epic on the order of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962) than a slam bang action entertainment on the level of How the West Was Won (also 1962), which was filmed and presented in the widescreen format known as Cinerama. Krakatoa, East of Java was also a Cinerama presentation though it was actually filmed in Todd-AO and Super Panavision 70. At the time of its release, however, interest in widescreen road-show presentations like Krakatoa was waning. In fact, the peak years for the Cinerama phenomena were between 1952 when This Is Cinerama became the highest grossing film of that year and 1963 when It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the second ranked box office hit of the year. By the time, Krakatoa, East of Java reached movie screens the Cinerama Releasing Corporation was experiencing financial difficulties and was functioning almost solely as a film distributor (For Love of Ivy and Hell in the Pacific [both 1968] were among some of their acquisitions). The company was liquidated in 1978 and its chain of movie houses was absorbed by Pacific Theatres.Seen outside of its original Cinerama presentation on a movie theatre screen, Krakatoa, East of Java must seem like a true oddity now. The film's producers may have been aiming for a family-friendly adventure epic but, wanting to also attract adult audiences, they added some questionable material - the tortured Connerly-Charley relationship and Laura's illicit backstory - that seriously detracts from the film's pacing. It was no secret that Krakatoa, East of Java was a troubled production. One of the original producers, Phil Yordan (El Cid, King of Kings, both 1961) dropped out of the project after the special effects were shot; after his departure a new associate producer was brought on board and a new screenplay was commissioned. The confusion of tone is constant and often provides unintentional amusement, particularly the inclusion of some inappropriate songs. In an opening sequence, island children are led by nuns in a sing-along - "Teacher, Teacher" - leading us to believe that this is a musical disaster film. Later, during the title credits, we hear the romantic strains of Krakatoa's theme song, "Java Girl" (music by De Vol, lyrics by Hal David) over images of filthy prisoners being led into the ship's hold and sweaty deckhands raising the sails. But the real showstopper is Barbara Werle's excruciating rendition of "I'm an Old Fashioned Girl" which she performs, stripping off her Victorian era clothes, as a prelude to sex with Brian Keith's self-destructive loser. In fact, Werle's character Charley is one of the more absurd characters on board with dialogue to match. "Don't put labels on jelly jars," she angrily tells Giovanni Borghese (Rossano Brazzi) when he insults her man. "I've seen the nice guys with the smiling faces and white collars pinch bottoms and I've seen the mean ones....pinch bottoms too. So don't tell me about labels. I've seen the one they've put on Harry." Krakatoa, East of Java was not a financial success and most critics trashed it when it opened. The San Francisco Chronicle stated that "those who made it have absolutely no skill in story-telling" and the New York Daily News noted that "by the time they have dunked you in a raging volcano; deafened you with underwater explosions; scorched you with volcanic fireworks, and, finally drowned you in a tidal wave, you will be too numb to notice how really unexciting and uninvolving it all is." Nevertheless, the film found a few advocates to champion its merits. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "one of the best movies ever made in Cinerama" and even wrote, "Rich in the atmosphere of exotic faraway places, it is so buoyant and bracing you can almost smell the sea air." Even Gary Arnold of The Washington Post found it refreshing: "In a week dominated by terminal cases of wretched big screen photography - Mackenna's Gold with its livid process shots in Super Panavision and Sweet Charity with its TV color and Brobdignaggian close-ups in 70 mm Panavision - Krakatoa, East of Java seemed rather pleasant." The film received another popular endorsement when it was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects by Eugene Lourie and Alex Weldon (it lost to Marooned). Admittedly, the visual effects are fun though hokey and the rear-screen projection, matte paintings, process shots and stuntwork look quaint by today's CGI standards. Interestingly enough, Krakatoa, East of Java enjoyed a second life in theatrical release under the title of Volcano in the seventies when films in "Sensurround" such as Earthquake (1974) became the rage; Krakatoa, East of Java was reprocessed and released in "Feelarama," a variation of Sensurround. Discrepancies continue today over the original running time of the film which was purported to be 127 minutes minus the opening overture, intermission and exit music though some re-edited versions have resurfaced on television and in 16mm prints with a running time of 101 minutes. Producer: William R. Forman, Lester A. Sansom, Philip YordanDirector: Bernard L. KowalskiScreenplay: Bernard Gordon, Cliff GouldCinematography: Manuel BerenguerFilm Editing: Walter Hannemann, Warren Low, Maurice RootesArt Direction: Julio Molina, Luis Perez EspinosaMusic: Frank De VolCast: Maximilian Schell (Hanson), Diane Baker (Laura), Brian Keith (Connerly), Barbara Werle (Charley), John Leyton (Rigby), J.D. Cannon (Dauzig). C-131m. Letterboxed. by Jeff Stafford SOURCES: Wide Screen Movies by Robert E. Carr and R.M. HayesWidescreen Cinema by John BeltonFilmfactsIMDB

Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)


With his sharp glare, pockmarked cheeks, clipped speech pattern and menacing air, Marc Lawrence had certainly carved a reputation for himself as one of the screen's finest character actors for villainous roles. Lawrence, whose career was harmed by the Hollywood blacklist in the '50s, died of natural causes on November 27 at his home in Palm Springs. He was 95.

Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948).

Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951).

After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963).

It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction.

Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).

In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina.

by Michael T. Toole

Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)

With his sharp glare, pockmarked cheeks, clipped speech pattern and menacing air, Marc Lawrence had certainly carved a reputation for himself as one of the screen's finest character actors for villainous roles. Lawrence, whose career was harmed by the Hollywood blacklist in the '50s, died of natural causes on November 27 at his home in Palm Springs. He was 95. Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948). Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951). After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963). It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction. Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Krakatoa was actually located west of Java.

In the early phases of production there was no script, but they knew what special effects sequences were needed and special effects creator 'Eugene Lourie' shot many of the miniature sequences before the writing was complete.

telegrapher

After the success of Earthquake (1974) and its Sensurround process, this film was re-released in Europe in the mid 1970's (under the new title "Volcano") with the addition of Sensurround. In some areas this process was advertised as "Feelarama."

'Eugene Lourie' encountered a problem when shooting the miniatures with the large format cameras. At the higher frame rates, the mechanisms of the Super Panavision camera would overheat. According to Lourie, each night one or two of the cameras would have to be repaired. Because of this problem, he was limited to a maximum frame rate of only 72 frames per second.

At the time this was in production, Rome was building an extension of its subway system. Some of the excavated dirt was piled on the back lot at Cinecitta. 'Eugene Lourie' made arrangements to use the 70 foot mound of dirt as one of the miniatures of Krakatoa.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Majorca and Denia, Spain. The film was also reviewed at 127, 135 and 143 min; copyright length: 131 min. Presented in Cinerama for some roadshow presentations.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring May 1969

Released in United States on Video December 16, 1997

Released in United States Spring May 1969

Released in United States on Video December 16, 1997