Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)






James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl, Peter Ronson, Thayer David, Bob Adler, Diane Baker, Ivan Triesault, Alex Finlayson


Edinburgh professor Sir Oliver S. Lindenbrook (James Mason) leads his intrepid party on an expedition to the center of the earth, via a volcano in Iceland, encountering all manner of prehistoric monsters and life-threatening hazards on the way.


Usually the film adaptations of Jules Verne's stories have never done justice to the fantasy of the great French writer, but this time the result is not that bad after all.

Journey to the Center of the Earth is an exciting, engaging and fun adventure classic.

Walter Reisch and Charles Brackett did a decent job adapting the famous novel to a screen play, but they did take too many liberties in my opinion. Moving from Amburg to Edinburgh, and going from Liedenbrock to Lindenbrook is not such a big deal, nor is the pet duck named Gertrude that add some fun into the film, but the romantic element, or feminine element - whatever you want to call that - did not have a purpose. The side plot about the nefarious Count Saknussemm is also pure fantasy, but it adds that menacing villain the audience wants to see.

The film still looks great and still has a great and unique atmosphere, and despite the visual effects show the signs of aging, they are spectacular: the breathtaking view atop the mountain, the descent into the abyss, the crystal cave, the underground ocean, the Dimetrodons, that look good even though they are just enlarged lizards with attached fins.

Bernard Herrmann's musical score is powerful and wonderfully atmospheric, and it blends with the correct mixture of humour, and action.

The acting is mostly fine. James Mason naturally steals the show with a charming and strong performance, and his remarkable voice. Unfortunately I can't say the same about Pat Boone, whose performance is quite poor, but he can sing. Arlene Dahl does a good job as Carla Goatabaug. Peter Ronson does a fine job as Hans, and Thayer David is a tremendous villain.


Cont Saknussemm: I don't sleep. I hate those little slices of death.

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