JOURNEY BENEATH THE DESERT (1961)
Article #1003 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-13-2003
Posting Date: 5-11-2004
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Featuring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Haya Harareet, Georges Riviere
Several mineral experts make a forced landing during a storm and end up in the underground city of Atlantis.
This makes the fourth adaptation of the Pierre Benoit novel that I’ve encountered, and it’s also the one that departs most consistently from the basic story (as far as I can tell; the other three adaptations are fairly similar). Edgar G. Ulmer’s script makes a definite attempt to update the story, tossing out the foreign legion
background and giving us helicoptors, machine guns and atomic bombs to fill out the story. The end result is not unlike a sword-and-sandal movie in some ways (didn’t we just encounter Atlantis in one of those?), except for the absence of a muscle-bound hero to round out the proceedings. All in all, it’s not too bad; it looks like Ulmer had a better budget than usual to work with on this one. It lacks the lyrical sense that pervaded the very early adaptations of the story, though, and except for the odd ending, it’s a fairly ordinary foray into exotic fantasy / adventure.