Admiral Nelson takes a brand new atomic submarine through its paces. When the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, the admiral must find a way to beat the heat or watch the world go up in smoke.
Walter Pidgeon ... Adm. 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 (j.g.) Danny Romano
Regis Toomey ... Dr. Jamieson
John Litel ... Vice-Adm. B.J. Crawford
Howard McNear ... Congressman Parker
Henry Daniell ... Dr. Zucco
Skip Ward ... Crew member
Mark Slade ... Seaman Jimmy 'Red' Smith
Charles Tannen ... CPO Gleason
Del Monroe ... Kowski (as Delbert Monroe)
I had ordered Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea on DVD and at 3:00 in the morning I found myself watching it. Okay, the idea of the Van Allen radiation belt catching on fire is silly, but it's just the premise for a really good sci-fi adventure film that I wish I could've seen in the theaters on a wide screen. But the rich colors on the DVD and Dolby sound is a good substitute for the real thing.
In looking at it, I can't help but compare the movie with the series that followed as there are some of the actors from the movie who ended up in the show. Seeing this Lee Crane constantly arguing and second-guessing Admiral Nelson is a little disturbing, yet the movie inspired one of the best sci-fi series of the '60s. And the movie itself, like Fantastic Voyage, shows great creativity. Irwin Allen is always being underestimated by people with 60 second attention spans, but this movie shows how much of a creative artist that Allen was.
I still remember seeing this film at movie theaters way back when I was a lad. Of course I didn't hear very much of it due to all the shrieks and squeals from the teenage girls in the audience over Frankie Avalon. That curiously enough didn't matter because Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a very visual film.
It might seem a little old hat today, but we've been through two more generations that have seen the United States Navy become an atomic fleet of submarines and surface carriers. It was only seven years earlier, in 1955 that the U.S.S. Nautilus was launched as our first atomic submarine. In homage to that wonderful visionary Jules Verne who foresaw atomic power one hundred years earlier the Navy named it after that famous undersea ship of Verne's great novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The nuclear submarine was a wondrous thing in 1961.
The idea of a nuclear power submarine was the brainchild of Admiral Hyman Rickover. Rickover was a tough minded s.o.b. who usually got whatever he wanted by any mean necessary including bullying. Hard to believe that the gentlemanly Walter Pigeon could play him, but he did and well as Admiral Harry Nelson, the ersatz Rickover.
What's happened here is that the Van Allen radiation belt that surrounds the Earth has caught fire and temperatures are climbing all over the world. The planet is doomed, but Walter Pigeon's got an idea to save it. Fire a missile and seed the belt with more radiation, kind of a nuclear backfire and the blaze will end.
A lot of people are telling him it won't work, but Pigeon brushes them all aside. The only two who have faith in him are his assistants played by Peter Lorre and Barbara Eden. But our intrepid admiral pushes through.
Of course the U.S.S. Seaview encounters all kinds of obstacles along the way, but that's the rest of the story.
The cast does very well for itself and young Frankie Avalon as a junior officer comes off rather nicely. Frankie sings over the title credits, but during the movie plays a trumpet. Avalon in fact was a trumpet virtuoso and a singing career was an afterthought. The fickle finger of fate.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea still a nice science fiction adventure even though it is dated.
Three years before the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series, Irwin Allen made this excellent movie. The TV series used the same submarine and a lot of the interior sets used in the movie.
The atomic powered submarine Seaview is sent on a mission to try and destroy a ring of fire that has appeared around the Earth. Cities are being destroyed and many people are being killed through this. They have to face several dangers before doing this and these include giant squids, a mine field, another submarine and its torpedo's and saboteurs on board. One of these tries to blow up one of the Seaview's reactors but is then eaten by the shark in the Seaview's aquarium. Then the other saboteur tries to blow up the Seaview with a bomb but the crew manage to stop him and the nuclear missile is fired and the ring of fire disperses. The world is saved.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea has excellent special effects and a good theme song.
An excellent cast too: Walter Pigeon (Forbidden Planet), Joan Fontaine (The Witches), Barbara Eden, Peter Lorre (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Beast With Five Fingers) and Robert Sterling.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a must for all sci-fi fans. Fantastic.
# Some of the sub's equipment and sound effects were recycled from The Fly (1958).
# The model and interior sets of the submarine cost producer Irwin Allen $400,000, so he was naturally quite keen to get some further use out of them. Since the film was a hit, he was able to convince ABC-TV to turn it into a series, which became the longest-running one he ever had.
# Director's Trademark: The voice-over for the newscasts that crew members watch, detailing the burning forests, etc., is done by director Irwin Allen.