Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea


1h 45m 1961
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Brief Synopsis

The captain of a nuclear submarine defies his commanders to save the Earth from a deadly space fire.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Adventure
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
Washington, D. C., opening: 12 Jul 1961
Production Company
Windsor Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

As the U. S. O. S. Seaview , a mammoth glass-nosed atomic submarine designed by scientist Harriman Nelson, makes its trial run near the polar icecap, the Van Allen radiation belt suddenly bursts into flame and threatens to destroy the Earth. Nelson is convinced that the only hope for survival is to shoot a Polaris missile into the belt and thereby cause it to explode backward into space. When the United Nations rejects his proposal as being too dangerous, Nelson commandeers the Seaview and heads for the Marianas, where he plans to launch the missile. Also aboard the submarine are Susan Hiller, a psychiatrist studying the effects of prolonged confinement on human behavior; Cathy Connors, Nelson's devoted secretary; Lucius Emery, a noted physicist who concurs with Nelson's theory; Capt. Lee Crane, the Seaview 's skipper; Miguel Alvarez, a civilian scientist; and Chip Romano, a brash young officer. Once the vessel is underway, several of the personnel begin to question Nelson's sanity; and there are repeated attempts at sabotage. After a run-in with a giant squid and a passage through a World War II mine field, the Seaview is attacked by U. N. submarines sent to prevent the launching of the missile. But Nelson, knowing that the Seaview can withstand depths far greater than any other undersea vessel, takes his craft down deeper and deeper until the tremendous pressure causes the pursuing submarines to explode. When the Seaview reaches its destination, Susan is revealed to be the saboteur. Convinced Nelson's actions will destroy the world, she makes a last effort to prevent the launching; but she is accidentally killed. Crane then sets the detonator, and the Polaris is sent into space. The wild experiment proves successful as a shattering explosion restores the burning sky to a tropical stillness.

Photo Collections

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea - Novelization
Here is the Pyramid novelization of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) by noted science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Adventure
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
Washington, D. C., opening: 12 Jul 1961
Production Company
Windsor Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on Blu-ray


Producer-director Irwin Allen reached his career apogee with his lavish disaster epics The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. That 1970s formula consisted of throwing a dozen name stars into a Titanic- like spectacle of multiple jeopardy, and then killing them off scene by scene, preferably in reverse billing order.

Allen had begun producing twenty years earlier, trying out 3-D and winning an Oscar for a documentary based on ecologist Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us in 1953. After a bad experience with The Story of Mankind he found a home at 20th Century Fox, producing and directing summer matinee attractions to tap the family audience sparked by 1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth. For his cheap remake of the silent classic The Lost World, Allen hired special effects great Willis O'Brien, but filmed his prehistoric monsters with live lizards instead of stop-motion animation.

For the summer of 1961 the producer assembled an eclectic jumble of thematic content guaranteed to pull in the kiddies. The title Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea evokes Walt Disney's spectacular Jules Verne success of a few years before; Allen nabbed that film's Peter Lorre for a supporting role. Star Walter Pidgeon had starred as a mad scientist in the futuristic Forbidden Planet; her he tries his hand at a MacArthur-like Admiral who also happens to be a scientific genius.

Science news was mostly optimistic in 1960, and news of nuclear submarines, space exploration and deep-sea exploits capturing the popular imagination. A key plot device was lifted from recent headlines about the detection of belts of radioactive particles found encircling the Earth, and named after their discoverer James Van Allen. Screenwriter Charles Bennett pasted these ideas into a storyline that plays like a Republic serial, with fantastic sights and perilous dangers in every scene.

A new super-submarine called the Seaview is undergoing its initial trials at the North Pole when calamity strikes: the Van Allen radiation belts have ignited, and skies all over the Earth are blazing with fire. With temperatures already at 139° and rising, human survival doesn't look good. Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) orders Captain Crane (Robert Sterling) to head for the United Nations in New York, to propose a daring plan of action. Nelson and his aide Commodore Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre) want to extinguish the fire with a Polaris missile fired from an exact location in the Marianas Islands. When the U.N. rejects his proposal, Nelson defies their authority and orders Crane to set sail to the Pacific without delay. His passengers, including guest researcher Dr. Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine) and castaway survivor Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara), are involuntary passengers on a perilous voyage that sees the Seaview tangling with underwater minefields and pursuing U.N. warships. After some bizarre accidents and fires occur Captain Crane begins to doubt the Admiral's sanity, thinking that Nelson might have set them himself. As the Seaview nears its objective it encounters a pursuit submarine blocking its path, which is only the first of a number of last-minute emergencies.

Variety aptly described Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea "a crescendo of mounting jeopardy." The Seaview must contend with roasting heat from the stratosphere, a giant squid, nuclear sabotage, a religious fanatic, on-board fires, a submarine attack and a second tentacled sea monster. As if all that weren't enough, Captain Crane suspects that his Admiral has gone crazy, and is keeping a Caine Mutiny- like diary to justify a mutiny.

Irwin Allen fills the CinemaScope screen with actors, all of whom struggle to make sense of their characterizations. Ex- MGM contractee Robert Sterling seems terribly disloyal when he threatens to abort the mission; only a sub attack keeps him from carrying through with his mutiny. Future TV genie Barbara Eden looks great in a tightly tailored uniform. She screams a lot, and dances to a trumpet played by Frankie Avalon's young Lieutenant. Avalon's contribution to the show is limited to relaying commands on the bridge ("Dive! Dive!"), but he also croons Russell Faith's title tune over the main credits. Oscar winner Joan Fontaine plays an annoying psychiatrist with a degree in Busybody Insults; the acclaimed actress's presence in this unrewarding role is a real mystery. Allen's flat direction and the exposition-filled screenplay do nobody any favors: our favorite scene-stealer Peter Lorre can't even find an opportunity to ad-lib.

But America's matinee audience didn't come to see Shakespeare, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea delivered thrills unavailable on Television. The Seaview looks like a Navy sub given a fashion makeover with giant tail fins straight from a late-model Cadillac. The glass observation windows in its nose allow the cast to enjoy the view at the Bottom of the Sea. The ship is introduced lurching high out of the water in a crash-surface maneuver. It looks spectacular, but real submariners must have laughed - the Seaview is not outfitted with seat belts, and its compartments are filled with loose items.

The film's special effects put a selection of large miniature submarines to good use in Fox's giant exterior water tanks. Cinematographer Winton Hoch assisted in lighting the impressive shots of the Seaview cruising at periscope depth, with the fiery sky shining down from the burning sky. Optical effects expert L.B. Abbott manipulated slow-motion shots of flamethrowers to create direct views of the inferno blazing above. As pure fantasy, the sight of the submarine approaching the United Nations building as New York glows red-hot makes for a particularly effective vision of apocalypse.

Some effects scenes are weak, but the sequence with the Seaview trapped in the minefield is very well managed. Allen never attached much importance to scientific details. The Van Allen belts contain nothing that can burn, and they're way out in space where there's no oxygen for a fire. When the Polar ice cap breaks up, the resulting icebergs sink, pelting our submarine on the way down. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea can be chalked up as a lively juvenile adventure, even if its brand of Cold War fantasy makes a scientific research vessel also double as a military craft, with a full complement of atomic warheads. There's something fundamentally disturbing about a story for children in which the world is saved by a nuclear missile.

With the Seaview given a new identity as an espionage vessel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea soon became a long-running TV series. The popular show became the first of several gaudy, action-oriented fantastic TV attractions produced by Irwin Allen. It would take Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek to once again raise the quality level of science fiction TV programming.


20th-Fox Studio Classics' Blu-ray of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a bright and colorful transfer of this adventure favorite. The HD images allow us to admire the many arrestingly beautiful special effects shots of the super-sub cruising underwater, lit from above by the burning sky.

Author Tom Colliver's commentary compares the movie to the TV series and explains some of its special effects. An older HD extra called Science Fiction: Fantasy to Reality discusses the Sci-Fi film genre before shifting to a discussion of Global Warming, making dubious use of clips from Voyage and The Day After Tomorrow. Global Warming is a serious problem, but not because the sky is on fire... and nuclear weapons will not save the day.

By Glenn Erickson

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea On Blu-Ray

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on Blu-ray

Producer-director Irwin Allen reached his career apogee with his lavish disaster epics The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. That 1970s formula consisted of throwing a dozen name stars into a Titanic- like spectacle of multiple jeopardy, and then killing them off scene by scene, preferably in reverse billing order. Allen had begun producing twenty years earlier, trying out 3-D and winning an Oscar for a documentary based on ecologist Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us in 1953. After a bad experience with The Story of Mankind he found a home at 20th Century Fox, producing and directing summer matinee attractions to tap the family audience sparked by 1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth. For his cheap remake of the silent classic The Lost World, Allen hired special effects great Willis O'Brien, but filmed his prehistoric monsters with live lizards instead of stop-motion animation. For the summer of 1961 the producer assembled an eclectic jumble of thematic content guaranteed to pull in the kiddies. The title Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea evokes Walt Disney's spectacular Jules Verne success of a few years before; Allen nabbed that film's Peter Lorre for a supporting role. Star Walter Pidgeon had starred as a mad scientist in the futuristic Forbidden Planet; her he tries his hand at a MacArthur-like Admiral who also happens to be a scientific genius. Science news was mostly optimistic in 1960, and news of nuclear submarines, space exploration and deep-sea exploits capturing the popular imagination. A key plot device was lifted from recent headlines about the detection of belts of radioactive particles found encircling the Earth, and named after their discoverer James Van Allen. Screenwriter Charles Bennett pasted these ideas into a storyline that plays like a Republic serial, with fantastic sights and perilous dangers in every scene. A new super-submarine called the Seaview is undergoing its initial trials at the North Pole when calamity strikes: the Van Allen radiation belts have ignited, and skies all over the Earth are blazing with fire. With temperatures already at 139° and rising, human survival doesn't look good. Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) orders Captain Crane (Robert Sterling) to head for the United Nations in New York, to propose a daring plan of action. Nelson and his aide Commodore Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre) want to extinguish the fire with a Polaris missile fired from an exact location in the Marianas Islands. When the U.N. rejects his proposal, Nelson defies their authority and orders Crane to set sail to the Pacific without delay. His passengers, including guest researcher Dr. Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine) and castaway survivor Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara), are involuntary passengers on a perilous voyage that sees the Seaview tangling with underwater minefields and pursuing U.N. warships. After some bizarre accidents and fires occur Captain Crane begins to doubt the Admiral's sanity, thinking that Nelson might have set them himself. As the Seaview nears its objective it encounters a pursuit submarine blocking its path, which is only the first of a number of last-minute emergencies. Variety aptly described Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea "a crescendo of mounting jeopardy." The Seaview must contend with roasting heat from the stratosphere, a giant squid, nuclear sabotage, a religious fanatic, on-board fires, a submarine attack and a second tentacled sea monster. As if all that weren't enough, Captain Crane suspects that his Admiral has gone crazy, and is keeping a Caine Mutiny- like diary to justify a mutiny. Irwin Allen fills the CinemaScope screen with actors, all of whom struggle to make sense of their characterizations. Ex- MGM contractee Robert Sterling seems terribly disloyal when he threatens to abort the mission; only a sub attack keeps him from carrying through with his mutiny. Future TV genie Barbara Eden looks great in a tightly tailored uniform. She screams a lot, and dances to a trumpet played by Frankie Avalon's young Lieutenant. Avalon's contribution to the show is limited to relaying commands on the bridge ("Dive! Dive!"), but he also croons Russell Faith's title tune over the main credits. Oscar winner Joan Fontaine plays an annoying psychiatrist with a degree in Busybody Insults; the acclaimed actress's presence in this unrewarding role is a real mystery. Allen's flat direction and the exposition-filled screenplay do nobody any favors: our favorite scene-stealer Peter Lorre can't even find an opportunity to ad-lib. But America's matinee audience didn't come to see Shakespeare, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea delivered thrills unavailable on Television. The Seaview looks like a Navy sub given a fashion makeover with giant tail fins straight from a late-model Cadillac. The glass observation windows in its nose allow the cast to enjoy the view at the Bottom of the Sea. The ship is introduced lurching high out of the water in a crash-surface maneuver. It looks spectacular, but real submariners must have laughed - the Seaview is not outfitted with seat belts, and its compartments are filled with loose items. The film's special effects put a selection of large miniature submarines to good use in Fox's giant exterior water tanks. Cinematographer Winton Hoch assisted in lighting the impressive shots of the Seaview cruising at periscope depth, with the fiery sky shining down from the burning sky. Optical effects expert L.B. Abbott manipulated slow-motion shots of flamethrowers to create direct views of the inferno blazing above. As pure fantasy, the sight of the submarine approaching the United Nations building as New York glows red-hot makes for a particularly effective vision of apocalypse. Some effects scenes are weak, but the sequence with the Seaview trapped in the minefield is very well managed. Allen never attached much importance to scientific details. The Van Allen belts contain nothing that can burn, and they're way out in space where there's no oxygen for a fire. When the Polar ice cap breaks up, the resulting icebergs sink, pelting our submarine on the way down. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea can be chalked up as a lively juvenile adventure, even if its brand of Cold War fantasy makes a scientific research vessel also double as a military craft, with a full complement of atomic warheads. There's something fundamentally disturbing about a story for children in which the world is saved by a nuclear missile. With the Seaview given a new identity as an espionage vessel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea soon became a long-running TV series. The popular show became the first of several gaudy, action-oriented fantastic TV attractions produced by Irwin Allen. It would take Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek to once again raise the quality level of science fiction TV programming. 20th-Fox Studio Classics' Blu-ray of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a bright and colorful transfer of this adventure favorite. The HD images allow us to admire the many arrestingly beautiful special effects shots of the super-sub cruising underwater, lit from above by the burning sky. Author Tom Colliver's commentary compares the movie to the TV series and explains some of its special effects. An older HD extra called Science Fiction: Fantasy to Reality discusses the Sci-Fi film genre before shifting to a discussion of Global Warming, making dubious use of clips from Voyage and The Day After Tomorrow. Global Warming is a serious problem, but not because the sky is on fire... and nuclear weapons will not save the day. By Glenn Erickson

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea


Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) was the second of three science fiction movies that Irwin Allen produced for 20th Century Fox in the early 1960s, following the success of Fox's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), and the studio's desire to duplicate that film's family-friendly style of light Sci-Fi adventure. The first of Allen's films for Fox was The Lost World (1960), a remake of the 1925 adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel. The third, Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962), was based on a Jules Verne book. All three films were scripted by Allen and Charles Bennett, and shot in color by DeLuxe.

As the movie opens, Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon), one of the world's foremost scientific minds, has designed an ultra-advanced nuclear submarine, the Seaview. Following a test voyage under the Arctic ice caps, Nelson and his crew see that the sky is on fire; a freak meteor shower has ignited the Van Allen radiation belt which circles the globe. The world's scientists and politicians cannot agree on a course of action. At a meeting of the United Nations, Nelson proposes firing one of the Seaview's atomic missiles from a strategic location, which he calculates will extinguish the blaze. Voted down, Nelson brazenly proceeds on the submarine to the Marianas Trench to carry out his plan. Along on the voyage are noted physicist Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre), psychiatrist Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine), Nelson's secretary Cathy Connors (Barbara Eden), the ship's skipper Captain Lee Crane (Robert Sterling), boisterous young officer Chip Romano (Frankie Avalon), and the rest of the crew. Tensions are high; Emery helped Nelson formulate his plan and supports it, while others like Dr. Hiller feel it is too dangerous. Cathy is torn between loyalty to Nelson and devotion to her fiancée, Capt. Crane. To make matters worse, the sub picks up a survivor, scientist Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara), a religious fanatic who argues against the missile plan on theological grounds. Nelson and the Seaview encounter all manner of other dangers during the voyage, such as giant sea creatures, WWII mines, pursuing submarines, and sabotage.

It has been pointed out by the film's critics over the years that the storyline of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea either lacks or ignores basic science. The premise of the main threat posed in the film is indeed seriously flawed: the Van Allen Belt exists outside of the Earth's atmosphere, so it could not possibly burst into flame as there is no oxygen to support fire. Early in the film we are shown the Seaview in peril during its Arctic voyage, due to sinking icebergs ? the result of the Earth's warming. In his exhaustive genre survey Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Bill Warren addresses the lack of common-sense science in this sequence: "While I don't expect moviemakers to realize that (a) the ocean is saltwater, more dense than fresh, and (b) icebergs are freshwater, less dense than the ocean they float in, I would at least expect them to realize, simply from glancing at their own gin and tonics, that ice floats."

In her autobiography No Bed of Roses, Joan Fontaine called the film "horrendous," saying she appeared in it "to pad my income." The authors of The Films of Peter Lorre may be overstating their case a bit when they say "it is truly depressing to watch Peter Lorre and Joan Fontaine, twenty years after their charming and subtle performances in The Constant Nymph (1943), trapped in the unrelenting mediocrity of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The ludicrous script is hackneyed, unimaginative and obvious, peopled with characters that do not even qualify as cardboard." Certainly Allen gave veterans like Fontaine, Lorre, and Henry Daniell (playing bombastic UN scientist Dr. Zucco) roles that were simplistic and two-dimensional, but such criticism overlooks that fact that ALL of the characters in the movie were simplistic. (The ship's communications officer, played by Robert Easton, is a Southerner named "Sparks," naturally). It could be argued that Allen's goals for the film were exceedingly modest, and that it has its own brand of charm, succeeding as dumb entertainment. The simplistic aims of the film are obvious from the opening moments, as Frankie Avalon croons the theme song (written by Russell Faith) under the film's credits.

Co-screenwriter Charles Bennett had a long career as an actor, playwright and primarily, a screenwriter. After his play Blackmail was adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929, he began a long relationship with the director which included the adaptation for The 39 Steps (1935) and the screenplays for Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), and Foreign Correspondent (1940). He collaborated with Cecil B. DeMille on the films Unconquered (1947), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944), and Reap the Wild Wind (1942). Just prior to writing The Story of Mankind (1957) with Allen and beginning an almost exclusive relationship with the producer which closed out his career, Bennett wrote the screenplay for the highly regarded thriller Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea received mostly scathing reviews. In the Saturday Review, Arthur Knight was generous in calling the film "?the kind of stirring adventure tale artfully designed to take one's mind off the heat and international tensions." Meanwhile, the writer for the Monthly Film Bulletin called it "?a vapid piece of science fiction, hysterical and jingoistic of tone. The action jerks from one unrelated crisis to the next, stumbling over each superfluous, inconsistent and generally incongruous character in its path to arrive at a foregone, stagy conclusion." In New Yorker, reviewer Brendan Gill cheekily writes, "About halfway though Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I had an uneasy feeling that for the first time in my life I might be watching a movie about life underwater in which a supernaturally gigantic squid didn't attack a ship, but luckily I was wrong. The squid came in on cue, attacked the submarine, and had to be disposed of by secret rays, of which, for security reasons, the less said the better."

Following the production of Five Weeks in a Balloon, Allen moved his brand of juvenile science fiction to television, and produced four hit shows for 20th Century Fox, beginning with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in 1964. The series was even more successful than the film, and in its early run at least, was better received by reviewers. The frugal Allen was able to reuse the main sets and models built for the feature, as well as much of the effects footage. The series starred Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelson and David Hedison as Captain Crane. The only actor who appeared both in the movie and as a regular on the TV series was Delbert Monroe, playing crewman "Kowski" in the film, renamed slightly as "Kowalski" for the series. Voyage ran for four seasons on ABC. Its success led directly to other sci-fi series produced by Allen: Lost in Space (1965-1968), The Time Tunnel (1966-1967), and Land of the Giants (1968-1970). Allen returned to feature films in a big way with The Poseidon Adventure (1972). That film - featuring an all-star cast put in harm's way by a series of contrived perils - revived a formula that the producer/ showman had previously exploited most obviously with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and made Allen the "Master of the Disaster Movie" subgenre.

Producer: Irwin Allen
Director: Irwin Allen
Screenplay: Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett
Cinematography: Winton C. Hoch, John Lamb
Film Editing: George Boemler, Roland Gross
Music: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Art Direction: Herman A. Blumenthal, Jack Martin Smith
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott, John Sturtevant
Costume Design: Paul Zastupnevich
Special Effects: L. B. Abbott
Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Admiral Harriman Nelson), Joan Fontaine (Dr. Susan Hiller), Barbara Eden (Lt. Cathy Connors), Peter Lorre (Comm. Lucius Emery), Robert Sterling (Capt. Lee Crane), Michael Ansara (Miguel Alvarez), Frankie Avalon (Lt. Danny Romano), Regis Toomey (Dr. Jamieson).
BW-106m. Letterboxed.

by John M. Miller

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) was the second of three science fiction movies that Irwin Allen produced for 20th Century Fox in the early 1960s, following the success of Fox's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), and the studio's desire to duplicate that film's family-friendly style of light Sci-Fi adventure. The first of Allen's films for Fox was The Lost World (1960), a remake of the 1925 adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel. The third, Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962), was based on a Jules Verne book. All three films were scripted by Allen and Charles Bennett, and shot in color by DeLuxe. As the movie opens, Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon), one of the world's foremost scientific minds, has designed an ultra-advanced nuclear submarine, the Seaview. Following a test voyage under the Arctic ice caps, Nelson and his crew see that the sky is on fire; a freak meteor shower has ignited the Van Allen radiation belt which circles the globe. The world's scientists and politicians cannot agree on a course of action. At a meeting of the United Nations, Nelson proposes firing one of the Seaview's atomic missiles from a strategic location, which he calculates will extinguish the blaze. Voted down, Nelson brazenly proceeds on the submarine to the Marianas Trench to carry out his plan. Along on the voyage are noted physicist Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre), psychiatrist Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine), Nelson's secretary Cathy Connors (Barbara Eden), the ship's skipper Captain Lee Crane (Robert Sterling), boisterous young officer Chip Romano (Frankie Avalon), and the rest of the crew. Tensions are high; Emery helped Nelson formulate his plan and supports it, while others like Dr. Hiller feel it is too dangerous. Cathy is torn between loyalty to Nelson and devotion to her fiancée, Capt. Crane. To make matters worse, the sub picks up a survivor, scientist Miguel Alvarez (Michael Ansara), a religious fanatic who argues against the missile plan on theological grounds. Nelson and the Seaview encounter all manner of other dangers during the voyage, such as giant sea creatures, WWII mines, pursuing submarines, and sabotage. It has been pointed out by the film's critics over the years that the storyline of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea either lacks or ignores basic science. The premise of the main threat posed in the film is indeed seriously flawed: the Van Allen Belt exists outside of the Earth's atmosphere, so it could not possibly burst into flame as there is no oxygen to support fire. Early in the film we are shown the Seaview in peril during its Arctic voyage, due to sinking icebergs ? the result of the Earth's warming. In his exhaustive genre survey Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Bill Warren addresses the lack of common-sense science in this sequence: "While I don't expect moviemakers to realize that (a) the ocean is saltwater, more dense than fresh, and (b) icebergs are freshwater, less dense than the ocean they float in, I would at least expect them to realize, simply from glancing at their own gin and tonics, that ice floats." In her autobiography No Bed of Roses, Joan Fontaine called the film "horrendous," saying she appeared in it "to pad my income." The authors of The Films of Peter Lorre may be overstating their case a bit when they say "it is truly depressing to watch Peter Lorre and Joan Fontaine, twenty years after their charming and subtle performances in The Constant Nymph (1943), trapped in the unrelenting mediocrity of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The ludicrous script is hackneyed, unimaginative and obvious, peopled with characters that do not even qualify as cardboard." Certainly Allen gave veterans like Fontaine, Lorre, and Henry Daniell (playing bombastic UN scientist Dr. Zucco) roles that were simplistic and two-dimensional, but such criticism overlooks that fact that ALL of the characters in the movie were simplistic. (The ship's communications officer, played by Robert Easton, is a Southerner named "Sparks," naturally). It could be argued that Allen's goals for the film were exceedingly modest, and that it has its own brand of charm, succeeding as dumb entertainment. The simplistic aims of the film are obvious from the opening moments, as Frankie Avalon croons the theme song (written by Russell Faith) under the film's credits. Co-screenwriter Charles Bennett had a long career as an actor, playwright and primarily, a screenwriter. After his play Blackmail was adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929, he began a long relationship with the director which included the adaptation for The 39 Steps (1935) and the screenplays for Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), and Foreign Correspondent (1940). He collaborated with Cecil B. DeMille on the films Unconquered (1947), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944), and Reap the Wild Wind (1942). Just prior to writing The Story of Mankind (1957) with Allen and beginning an almost exclusive relationship with the producer which closed out his career, Bennett wrote the screenplay for the highly regarded thriller Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea received mostly scathing reviews. In the Saturday Review, Arthur Knight was generous in calling the film "?the kind of stirring adventure tale artfully designed to take one's mind off the heat and international tensions." Meanwhile, the writer for the Monthly Film Bulletin called it "?a vapid piece of science fiction, hysterical and jingoistic of tone. The action jerks from one unrelated crisis to the next, stumbling over each superfluous, inconsistent and generally incongruous character in its path to arrive at a foregone, stagy conclusion." In New Yorker, reviewer Brendan Gill cheekily writes, "About halfway though Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I had an uneasy feeling that for the first time in my life I might be watching a movie about life underwater in which a supernaturally gigantic squid didn't attack a ship, but luckily I was wrong. The squid came in on cue, attacked the submarine, and had to be disposed of by secret rays, of which, for security reasons, the less said the better." Following the production of Five Weeks in a Balloon, Allen moved his brand of juvenile science fiction to television, and produced four hit shows for 20th Century Fox, beginning with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in 1964. The series was even more successful than the film, and in its early run at least, was better received by reviewers. The frugal Allen was able to reuse the main sets and models built for the feature, as well as much of the effects footage. The series starred Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelson and David Hedison as Captain Crane. The only actor who appeared both in the movie and as a regular on the TV series was Delbert Monroe, playing crewman "Kowski" in the film, renamed slightly as "Kowalski" for the series. Voyage ran for four seasons on ABC. Its success led directly to other sci-fi series produced by Allen: Lost in Space (1965-1968), The Time Tunnel (1966-1967), and Land of the Giants (1968-1970). Allen returned to feature films in a big way with The Poseidon Adventure (1972). That film - featuring an all-star cast put in harm's way by a series of contrived perils - revived a formula that the producer/ showman had previously exploited most obviously with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and made Allen the "Master of the Disaster Movie" subgenre. Producer: Irwin Allen Director: Irwin Allen Screenplay: Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett Cinematography: Winton C. Hoch, John Lamb Film Editing: George Boemler, Roland Gross Music: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter Art Direction: Herman A. Blumenthal, Jack Martin Smith Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott, John Sturtevant Costume Design: Paul Zastupnevich Special Effects: L. B. Abbott Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Admiral Harriman Nelson), Joan Fontaine (Dr. Susan Hiller), Barbara Eden (Lt. Cathy Connors), Peter Lorre (Comm. Lucius Emery), Robert Sterling (Capt. Lee Crane), Michael Ansara (Miguel Alvarez), Frankie Avalon (Lt. Danny Romano), Regis Toomey (Dr. Jamieson). BW-106m. Letterboxed. by John M. Miller

Quotes

Alvarez... are you saying that Man must accept destruction even though it's in his power to prevent it?
- Admiral Nelson
It's not for us to judge, Admiral.
- Alvarez
Not to judge, maybe; but we can reason. If God ordains that Man should die without a fight, then why does He give us the will to live?
- Admiral Nelson

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1961

Released in United States on Video August 25, 1988

Released in United States March 1975

Film spawned the 60s television series of the same name.

CinemaScope

Released in United States Summer July 1961

Released in United States on Video August 25, 1988

Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Science Fiction Movie Marathon - Selection of Trailers) March 13-26, 1975.)