Transatlantic Tunnel


1h 34m 1935
Transatlantic Tunnel

Brief Synopsis

Scientists and engineers join forces to build a tunnel beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Tunnel
Genre
Disaster
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Oct 27, 1935
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 25 Oct 1935
Production Company
Gaumont-British Picture Corp.
Distribution Company
Gaumont-British Picture Corp. of America
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Der Tunnel by Bernhard Kellermann (Berlin, 1913).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,578ft

Synopsis

Early in the twenty-first century, Atlantic Tunnels, Inc. builds a subterranean tunnel linking England and the United States. Several problems arise in the building of the tunnel, and at one point in the construction, scores of men are trapped within the tunnel and suffocate.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Tunnel
Genre
Disaster
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Oct 27, 1935
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 25 Oct 1935
Production Company
Gaumont-British Picture Corp.
Distribution Company
Gaumont-British Picture Corp. of America
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Der Tunnel by Bernhard Kellermann (Berlin, 1913).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,578ft

Articles

The Tunnel -


Watching this film may make you feel you've missed a few headlines. This science-fiction epic is set in the early years of the 21st century, when driven engineer Richard Dix spearheads plans to build a tunnel connecting the U.S. and Great Britain. Some of the depictions of future technology are dead on, particularly the drilling equipment used in some impressive miniatures, even if the art department envisioned a world taken over by art deco and the script ignores the existence of undersea trenches too deep to tunnel beneath. Bernhard Kellermann's novel had been filmed as a silent in Germany in 1915, then in France in 1933. That version was directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starred Jean Gabin as the engineer and stage legend Madeline Renaud as his wife. Although this version was filmed in Great Britain (by Maurice Elvey, one of their leading directors at the time), Gaumont British imported American stars Dix and Madge Evans for U.S. box office appeal. They also got George Arliss and Walter Huston to do cameos as the British prime minister and U.S. president, respectively. By the way, if you would be first in line to drive from the U.S. to England, you should be advised that with current technology the trip would take two-and-a-half days of non-stop driving.

By Frank Miller
The Tunnel -

The Tunnel -

Watching this film may make you feel you've missed a few headlines. This science-fiction epic is set in the early years of the 21st century, when driven engineer Richard Dix spearheads plans to build a tunnel connecting the U.S. and Great Britain. Some of the depictions of future technology are dead on, particularly the drilling equipment used in some impressive miniatures, even if the art department envisioned a world taken over by art deco and the script ignores the existence of undersea trenches too deep to tunnel beneath. Bernhard Kellermann's novel had been filmed as a silent in Germany in 1915, then in France in 1933. That version was directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starred Jean Gabin as the engineer and stage legend Madeline Renaud as his wife. Although this version was filmed in Great Britain (by Maurice Elvey, one of their leading directors at the time), Gaumont British imported American stars Dix and Madge Evans for U.S. box office appeal. They also got George Arliss and Walter Huston to do cameos as the British prime minister and U.S. president, respectively. By the way, if you would be first in line to drive from the U.S. to England, you should be advised that with current technology the trip would take two-and-a-half days of non-stop driving. By Frank Miller

Transatlantic Tunnel


An imaginative futuristic tale in the Jules Verne tradition, the British film Transatlantic Tunnel [1935] (aka The Tunnel during its British release) is set in the then not-too-distant future as a determined engineer risks everything to build an undersea tunnel from England to the United States. In addition to gripping scenes of the construction itself (brought to life by some striking special effects), the film concerns the engineer's domestic difficulties: a jealous, neglected wife; a best friend willing to offer her a sympathetic ear; a doomed son; and a financier's romantically inclined daughter. But the real attraction of the picture lies outside the turgid melodrama and posits a number of future technological advancements not far off from what has actually come to pass. Among these innovations are international wireless communications, two-way video, and huge drills bearing a resemblance to those that built the Channel Tunnel from England to France. The sci-fi devices are used to some thrilling and horrifying ends, as when tunnel chambers must be shut down to prevent explosions, trapping all the workers inside.

The idea for such a structure didn't arise solely from the imagination of German novelist Bernhard Kellermann, on whose book the film was based-Jules Verne wrote about it as early as 1895-nor has the idea lost relevance in the years since. Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocket science, held two patents on an oceanic tunnel, and Arthur C. Clarke mentions intercontinental undersea passages in his 1956 novel The City and the Stars. In 2003, the Discovery Channel aired an episode of its series Extreme Engineering dealing with the possibilities of creating a tunnel of that length.

Although British made, Transatlantic Tunnel stars a number of American actors, including, in the lead role, Richard Dix, a former silent star who was by this point in his career a B-Western powerhouse at RKO. Madge Evans and Helen Vinson are cast as, respectively, his lonely wife and the heiress with designs on him. The English are well-represented, however, by Leslie Banks (best known stateside as the frantic dad in Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1934) and that stalwart symbol of the British Empire in any number of films from both Hollywood and abroad, C. Aubrey Smith.

Two important stars from either side of the Atlantic appear in small roles as their nation's leaders: Walter Huston as the U.S. President and George Arliss as the British Prime Minister. Huston had gone to London to make Rhodes of Africa (1936), a paean to British imperialism in the form of a biography of diamond miner and African colonizer Cecil John Rhodes. When that project was delayed, Huston found himself with time on his hands and stepped into his part as the President of the United States in Transatlantic Tunnel. No such explanation exists for Arliss, the British stage star who had gone on to considerable success in Hollywood in the first half of the 1930s. Perhaps it was his indelible Oscar®-winning portrait of real-life Prime Minister, under Queen Victoria, Disraeli (1929) that led the creators of this picture to seek him out to lend a certain gravitas and authenticity to their project.

The story had been filmed twice before, first as a German silent, Der Tunnel (1915). The French remade it in 1933 as Le Tunnel with top star Jean Gabin in the lead. That version was written and directed by Curtis Bernhardt, who later ended up at Warner Brothers directing such Hollywood superstars as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Barbara Stanwyck.

One of the writers on this project was German-born Curt (aka Kurt) Siodmak, one of the four writer-directors on the legendary Menschen am Sonntag (1930), the film that also gave career starts to future Hollywood cinema artists Robert Siodmak (Curt's brother), Edgar G. Ulmer, and Fred Zinnemann. A former engineer and newspaper reporter, Siodmak's early success in adapting his own futuristic novel to the screen as F.P. 1 antwortet nicht (Floating Platform 1 Does Not Answer, 1932) led to a career in horror and sci-fi movies that included the screenplays for The Wolf Man (1941), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956).

Additional dialogue for Transatlantic Tunnel was provided by the venerable British writer Clemence Dane, who was referred to by Noel Coward as "a gallant old girl" and is said to have inspired the character Madame Arcati in his supernatural comedy Blithe Spirit (1945). Dane wrote the play on which Katharine Hepburn's film debut, A Bill of Divorcement (1932), was based and won an Academy Award® for her story for the Robert Donat-Deborah Kerr romance Perfect Strangers (1946).

Director: Maurice Elvey
Producer: Michael Balcon
Screenplay: L. du Garde Peach, Curt Siodmak, additional dialogue by Clemence Dane, based on the novel Der Tunnel by Bernhard Kellerman
Cinematography: Gunther Krampf
Editing: Charles Frend
Art Direction: Erno Metzner
Original Music: Hubert Bath
Cast: Richard Dix (Richard "Mack" McAllan), Leslie Banks (Frederick "Robbie" Robbins), Madge Evans (Ruth McAllan), Helen Vinson (Varla Lloyd), C. Aubrey Smith (Lloyd).
BW-94m.

by Rob Nixon

Transatlantic Tunnel

An imaginative futuristic tale in the Jules Verne tradition, the British film Transatlantic Tunnel [1935] (aka The Tunnel during its British release) is set in the then not-too-distant future as a determined engineer risks everything to build an undersea tunnel from England to the United States. In addition to gripping scenes of the construction itself (brought to life by some striking special effects), the film concerns the engineer's domestic difficulties: a jealous, neglected wife; a best friend willing to offer her a sympathetic ear; a doomed son; and a financier's romantically inclined daughter. But the real attraction of the picture lies outside the turgid melodrama and posits a number of future technological advancements not far off from what has actually come to pass. Among these innovations are international wireless communications, two-way video, and huge drills bearing a resemblance to those that built the Channel Tunnel from England to France. The sci-fi devices are used to some thrilling and horrifying ends, as when tunnel chambers must be shut down to prevent explosions, trapping all the workers inside. The idea for such a structure didn't arise solely from the imagination of German novelist Bernhard Kellermann, on whose book the film was based-Jules Verne wrote about it as early as 1895-nor has the idea lost relevance in the years since. Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocket science, held two patents on an oceanic tunnel, and Arthur C. Clarke mentions intercontinental undersea passages in his 1956 novel The City and the Stars. In 2003, the Discovery Channel aired an episode of its series Extreme Engineering dealing with the possibilities of creating a tunnel of that length. Although British made, Transatlantic Tunnel stars a number of American actors, including, in the lead role, Richard Dix, a former silent star who was by this point in his career a B-Western powerhouse at RKO. Madge Evans and Helen Vinson are cast as, respectively, his lonely wife and the heiress with designs on him. The English are well-represented, however, by Leslie Banks (best known stateside as the frantic dad in Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1934) and that stalwart symbol of the British Empire in any number of films from both Hollywood and abroad, C. Aubrey Smith. Two important stars from either side of the Atlantic appear in small roles as their nation's leaders: Walter Huston as the U.S. President and George Arliss as the British Prime Minister. Huston had gone to London to make Rhodes of Africa (1936), a paean to British imperialism in the form of a biography of diamond miner and African colonizer Cecil John Rhodes. When that project was delayed, Huston found himself with time on his hands and stepped into his part as the President of the United States in Transatlantic Tunnel. No such explanation exists for Arliss, the British stage star who had gone on to considerable success in Hollywood in the first half of the 1930s. Perhaps it was his indelible Oscar®-winning portrait of real-life Prime Minister, under Queen Victoria, Disraeli (1929) that led the creators of this picture to seek him out to lend a certain gravitas and authenticity to their project. The story had been filmed twice before, first as a German silent, Der Tunnel (1915). The French remade it in 1933 as Le Tunnel with top star Jean Gabin in the lead. That version was written and directed by Curtis Bernhardt, who later ended up at Warner Brothers directing such Hollywood superstars as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Barbara Stanwyck. One of the writers on this project was German-born Curt (aka Kurt) Siodmak, one of the four writer-directors on the legendary Menschen am Sonntag (1930), the film that also gave career starts to future Hollywood cinema artists Robert Siodmak (Curt's brother), Edgar G. Ulmer, and Fred Zinnemann. A former engineer and newspaper reporter, Siodmak's early success in adapting his own futuristic novel to the screen as F.P. 1 antwortet nicht (Floating Platform 1 Does Not Answer, 1932) led to a career in horror and sci-fi movies that included the screenplays for The Wolf Man (1941), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956). Additional dialogue for Transatlantic Tunnel was provided by the venerable British writer Clemence Dane, who was referred to by Noel Coward as "a gallant old girl" and is said to have inspired the character Madame Arcati in his supernatural comedy Blithe Spirit (1945). Dane wrote the play on which Katharine Hepburn's film debut, A Bill of Divorcement (1932), was based and won an Academy Award® for her story for the Robert Donat-Deborah Kerr romance Perfect Strangers (1946). Director: Maurice Elvey Producer: Michael Balcon Screenplay: L. du Garde Peach, Curt Siodmak, additional dialogue by Clemence Dane, based on the novel Der Tunnel by Bernhard Kellerman Cinematography: Gunther Krampf Editing: Charles Frend Art Direction: Erno Metzner Original Music: Hubert Bath Cast: Richard Dix (Richard "Mack" McAllan), Leslie Banks (Frederick "Robbie" Robbins), Madge Evans (Ruth McAllan), Helen Vinson (Varla Lloyd), C. Aubrey Smith (Lloyd). BW-94m. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film was released in Great Britain under the title The Tunnel. Modern sources include Producer Michael Balcon, Associate Producer S. C. Balcon, Design Erno Metzner, Costumes Schiaparelli and Joe Strassner and Sound M. Rose in the production.