Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961)
Article #1075 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-23-2004
Posting Date: 7-22-2004
Directed by Irwin Allen
Featuring Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden

When the Van Allen Belt bursts into flames, an intrepid Admiral determines that the only way to save the world is to shoot a nuclear missile at it from his submarine.

Irwin Allen is pretty strong on the eye candy; it’s fun to see the submarine tooling around in the ocean and to observe all the gadgetry aboard. He also knows how to keep the action going, especially towards the end when we have several crises occurring at once. I just wish he would make certain concessions to reality. The central crisis is patently ridiculous; the Van Allen Belt is a radioactive belt that follows the magnetic field of the earth outside of its atmosphere; not only is it incapable of bursting into flames, but there’s no oxygen to sustain it if it does. We also have the submarine threatened by sinking chunks of ice (and what does ice do in water?). Another problem is that the characters are so poorly developed that they never seem like real people; some of them have only enough character to make them useful at certain plot points (Joan Fontaine, Michael Ansara); others have the equivalent of no character at all (Peter Lorre in particular is wasted). Also, the movie never varies its level of tension; the ending of the movie should be a lot more exciting than any other part of the movie, but it feels just like every other scene. So the end result is that I never really believe that the world really is in danger and I just don’t feel the necessary suspense. And I’m also afraid that this is another movie that shouldn’t have a romantic theme song, even if Frankie Avalon is in the cast.

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