James Mason, Pat Boone and Arlene Dahl are the stars of Henry Levin’s ambitious and magnificently-mounted science-fiction adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel with its terrific special effects. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH was considered Avantgarde for the 1950s but is still stunning with the Carlsbad Caverns as its setting, despite outstaying its welcome at over two hours.
In 1880 Edinburgh, Sir Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason) discovers a bomb in a piece of lava rock with a code suggesting the existence of a new world at the Earth’s core. He consults an expert, Professor Goteborg, who investigates the theory on his own unleashing a competitive mission to Lindenbrook’s and his sidekick, student Alec McEwen (Pat Boone). But Goteborg suddenly dies and his widow Carla (Arlene Dahl) joins Mason’s group along with the musclebound Hans (Peter Ronson) and his pet duck Gertrude. Boone has a penchant for breaking into song on every occasion as the intrepid foursome descend into the nadir where romance also features in a fantasy foray that clings closest to Verne’s original than any other version.
There is much to enjoy here with the lost city of Atlantic, giant mushrooms. mammoth dinosaurs and (prosthetic) lizards that tower over the superb ensemble cast. Cheesy in the best possible way, this is tongue in cheek entertainment in the true spirit of Verne’s original, even for today’s jaded palette. MT
NOW ON BLURAY COURTESY OF EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA | 18 SEPTEMBER 2017