The Mysterious Island (1929)

Article #277 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 12-18-2001
Posting date: 5-3-2002

An inventor finds himself the victim of an attack by soldiers who want to use his submarine invention to rule the world.

This movie is largely silent, but with sound sequences, which gives the whole thing a rather unusual ambience. I suspected it wasn’t going to be a faithful adaptation the minute I saw that all the names of the characters were Russian-sounding (it takes place in the fictional country of Hetvia), and sure enough, outside of the fact that a submarine plays a role in the story and there’s an island involved, it has nothing to do with the Verne novel, despite the fact that he’s given credit. The scenes with sound are stiff and unconvincing in comparison to the silent sequences, showing how primitive sound was in its early years. The story is so-so, but the spectacular underwater sequence in which (so I’ve read) a huge cast of dwarves was employed, is memorable indeed. A giant octopus gets into the action, as well as a slurpasaurus (though I suppose, technically, the gator wasn’t supposed to be a dinosaur, but just a big sea monster). Lionel Barrymore plays the inventor.

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