Jules Gabriel Verne has a total of 84 published books, 73 published within his lifetime, February 8, 1828 to March 24, 1905. I am not going to look at every work, or every motion picture made from them in a blog article. I will be selective in my choice of titles and I recognize that my reader will be thinking of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and perhaps, Around the World in 80 Days. I promise to get to them later, but----
----I start with a favorite of mine from Czechoslovakia.
Vynález zkázy (Deadly Invention aka Invention for Destruction) premiered at the Brussels, Belgium, Film Festival in June 1958
The motion picture would be seen in ten other countries including the Soviet Union, East Germany, Italy, Finland and Sweden before it came to the United States on June 7, 1961, dubbed into English as "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne".
The motion picture from director and co-writer Karel Zeman, seen in the still below, was additionally written by Frantisek Hrubin and Milan Vacha. On some listings director, artist, and writer Kiri Brdecka is also listed.
The screenplay was mainly based upon Jules Verne's 1896 "Face au drapeau (Facing the Flag)". The novel's theme was France and the entire world threatened by a super-weapon and French patriotism saving mankind.
However, Karel Zeman included ideas from other Verne novels in the screenplay and has his hero "Simon Hart", played by Lubor Tokos, narrate the story. Which is played like a 19th Century Melodrama, hiss at the villain, feel for the heroine, and cheer the handsome hero.
Zeman has his beautiful heroine, "Jana", played by 17-years-old Jana Zatloukalova, and the pirate leader "Count Artigas", played by Czech actor Miroslav Holub.
What makes this story of a gang of pirates kidnaping a scientist, "Professor Roch", played Arnost Navratil, to gain the secret of his futuristic weapon actually charming, is that the movie is filmed to look like the 1896 illustrations of the novel. In the end the hero gets the girl and the villain is stopped.
The above photo brings me to my next motion picture based upon two related Jules Verne's titles.
MASTER OF THE WORLD released on May 24, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii
Above is the British release poster, one does not normally think of "American International Pictures" for high quality motion pictures with the exception of their Edgar Alan Poe series. However, "AIP's" version of Jules Verne's novel's, 1886's "Robur-le-Conquerant (Robur the Conqueror aka The Clipper of the Air)" and its sequel, 1904's "Maitre du monde (Master of the World)" is an exception!
To begin with the screenplay was by Richard Matheson, who would write most of the Poe series, and the screenplays for his previously novels, 1954's "I Am Legend", 1956 "The Shrinking Man aka The Incredible Shrinking Man)", and 1971's "Hell House aka The Legend of Hell House".
My article "Richard Matheson: The Screenplays and Treatments" is at:
The pace of the film is because director William Whitney had co-directed some of the classic Cliff-Hangers, such as, 1939's "Daredevils of the Red Circle", 1940's "The Mysterious Dr. Satan", 1941's "The Adventures of Captain Marvel", 1942's "Spy Smasher", and 1946's "The Crimson Ghost".
The cast was just perfect:
Vincent Price portrayed "Robur". Although Price was appearing on television shows at the time of production, the year before he made the first of the Poe series, 1960's "House of Usher", and would immediately follow this picture with 1961's "The Pit and the Pendulum".
Charles Bronson portrayed "John Stock". Even after having a major role in director John Sturges' Americanization of Japanese director Ikira Kurosawa's 1956 "The Seven Samurai", as 1960's "The Magnificent Seven", Bronson still only appeared on television until this feature.
Henry Hull portrayed "Prudent". Hull's career included the title role of 1935's "Werewolf of London". Among his motion pictures are, the Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda 1939 "Jesse James", that feature's sequel starring Henry Fonda, 1940's "The Return of Frank James", Alfred Hitchcock's 1944 "Lifeboat", Errol Flynn's 1945 "Objective Burma", and the 1949 version of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" starring Cary Cooper and Patricia Neal.
Mary Webster portrayed "Dorothy Prudent". Other than the Jerry Lewis comedy from 1957', "The Delicate Delinquent", this is Webster's only other motion picture, but she did appear on television from 1955 through 1963.
David Frankham portrayed "Phillip Evans". Other than playing the villain in 1959's "The Return of the Fly", the actor basically worked on television.
Above, David Frankham and Mary Webster.
The screenplay's opening sequence is set in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, a voice is heard coming out of a volcanic crater reciting a biblical verse that frightens the residents.
Government agent "John Strock" is sent to investigate and report back directly to the President of the United States. "Strock" attends a meeting of a balloon society that is hotly debating upon which end of the balloon the propeller should go. On one side of the argument is an arms manufacturer named "Prudent", and on the other side is an young balloonist named "Phillip Evans". Between the two is "Evans" fiancée "Dorothy Prudent" the daughter of his verbal opponent. "Strock" asks "Prudent" to test the societies balloon over the dormant volcano so he can observe the area the voice came from. As the balloon carrying its four passengers passes near the volcanic cone a rocket shoots out, hits it, and the balloon enters the cone and crashes. When the four regain consciousness, they're the "Guests" of "Robur" aboard his flying ship "The Albatross".
What follows is "Robur" discovering who "Prudent" is and lecturing him against building weapons of war. Along with "Strock" and the others observing "Robur" declare his own war upon warships from around the world. After a time, "Strock" starts to admire "Robur's" goals, not his means of carrying them out, and will get the other three off the "Albatross" before sabotaging the flying ship.
Remember this picture came out at the height of the Vietnam War. In Richard Matheson's screenplay "Robur" has been turned into an idealist who plans to conqueror the world to end tyranny and war. In the novel he only bombs one target, an African coronation that will include human sacrifice. Also "Strock" is only in the sequel to "Robur the Conqueror", the "Master of the World". Which is not about the "Albatross" that was destroyed in the first novel, but a craft called "The Terror", that can change into a speedboat, submarine, automobile, or aircraft. Unfortunately, its not seen in this motion picture.
"Robur" orders his crew to abandon ship, but they refuse to leave their leader. Everyone gathers in his cabin and he reads a Biblical passage, Isaiah 2:4 about turning swords into plowshares. "Strock" now escapes as "The Albatross" crashes into the ocean and explodes.
THE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD premiered in New York City, New York, on July 16, 1971
This story was adapted from Verne's 1905 "Le Phare du bout du monde (The Lighthouse at the End of the World)".
The movie was directed by British Director Kevin Billington. Between 1963 and 1992, Billington only had nineteen credits as a director and with the exception of two other feature films, they were all on British television.
The screenplay was by Tom Rowe. This was only his third screenplay out of eight, but the other seven included the cult science fiction film from 1968, "Green Slime", and the original story for Walt Disney's animated 1970 "The Aristocats".
The three leads should have made this movie a box office hit, but it became a box office failure.
Kirk Douglas portrayed "Will Denton". Douglas had just co-starred with Henry Fonda in the 1970 western "There Was a Crooked Man", and followed this feature with another western, 1971's "A Gunfight" co-starring Johnny Cash.
Yul Brynner portrayed "Jonathan Kongre". Brynner had just been in the spaghetti western 1970's "Adios Sabata", and would follow this picture with 1971's "Romance of a Horsethief" co-starring Eli Wallach.
Samantha Eggar portrayed "Arabella". London born actress Eggar had just been in the British drama 1970's "The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun" co-starring Oliver Reed. She would follow this picture with the 1972 Italian horror movie, "L'egtrusco uccide ancora (The Egtrusco Kills Again aka The Dead Are Alive)".
In the novel, Jules Verne sets his plot by writing:
The Argentine Republic had displayed a happy initiative in constructing this lighthouse at the end of the world.
His adventure story revolves around the Argentine lighthouse keeper and his two assistants fighting off marooned pirates to keep the light functioning for the shipping that pass within Elgor Bay and the harbor of Saint-Jean in October of 1858.
The screenplay moves the story to 1865, the Argentine lighthouse keeper is now American "Will Denton". Who has sought isolation to mend his broken heart after a failed romance during the California Gold Rush and to escape punishment for murdering a man during a gunfight.
"Denton" has two Argentine assistants and they remain Verne's characters of "Moriz" and Felipe", but otherwise he is alone on the rocky cave filled island. Suddenly, "Denton's" isolation is ruined when a shipload of sadistic pirates under the command of "Jonathan Kongre" arrive, murder "Moriz" and 'Felipe", put out the light so that ships will wreck on the rocks and they can loot them.
"Denton" flees to the caves and hides from the pirates, but when "Kongre" sees the beautiful "Arabella", a survivor from one of the ship wrecks, he breaks his own rules and does not kill her. All setting up a confrontation between the two men.
Irwin Allen's cousin Albert Gail also received screenplay writing credit and his only other was Allen's 1974 "The Towering Inferno".
Red Buttons portrayed "Donald O'Shay". Buttons had just co-starred in John Wayne's 1962 "Hatari!" and would follow this picture with producer Daryl F. Zanuck's epic international-all-star telling of the June 6, 1944 allied invasion of Europe, 1962's "The Longest Day".
Barbara Eden portrayed "Susan Gale". Eden had just co-starred in producer George Pal's 1962 Cinerama feature, "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". She would follow this movie with an episode of the forgotten Nick Adams television series 1962's "Saints and Sinners".
Barbara Luna portrayed "Makia". Luna was basically a television actress with an occasional feature film.
In the above still that is "Chester the Chimp" crossing playing as "Duchess the Chimp".
Richard Haydin portrayed "Sir Henry Vining". The actor had been in an episode of televisions "The Twilight Zone" entitled "A Thing About Machines", October 28, 1960. He followed this motion picture with the Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard 1962 "Mutiny on the Bounty".
Above left, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and right, Richard Haydin.
Peter Lorre portrayed "Ahmed". Lorre had just been seen in director Roger Corman's Poe entry written by Richard Matheson, 1962's "Tales of Terror". He would follow it with the very funny Corman entry, 1963's "The Raven", in which Corman turns loose Lorre, Vincent Price and Boris Karloff to ad-lib their battle of the sorcerers. My article, "PETER LORRE: Overlooked, or Forgotten Performances" will found at:
children will enjoy it but adults will find the whimsy heavy and repetitious.
I now turn to a Jules Verne novel that had multiple motion picture versions including one in Soviet Russia.
IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS premiered in London, England, on November 14, 1962
Verne's original novel was 1868's "Les Enfants du capitiane Grant (The Children of Captain Grant)".
The first filmed version of the novel "Les Enfants du capitiane Grant" was released on April 10, 1914 in France.
Robert Stevenson directed the feature film. For Disney, Stevenson had directed before this feature film, both 1957's "Johnny Tremain" and "Old Yeller", both 1959's "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" and "Kidnapped", and 1961's "The Absent Minded Professor". Robert Stevenson would continue to direct major Disney motion pictures through 1985.
Maurice Chevalier portrayed "Jacques Paganel". Chevalier had just been seen co-starring with Angie Dickinson in the 1962 comedy "Jessica". He would follow this picture with the Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward comedy, 1963's "A New Kind of Love".
After this motion picture he was seen on British television.
In 19th century Britain, "Professor Paganel", described as a scientifically-thinking French geography Professor has found a message in a bottle. He believes it's from the missing "John Grant", played by Jack Gwillim and with "Grant's" two teenage children, "Mary" and "Robert", played by Keith Hamshere, they go to see "John Glenarvan" and his wealthy father, "Lord Glenarvan" the owner of "Grant's" missing ship. So, starts the search for the castaways in typical Walt Disney family fare that will first take them to South America, the Andes mountains, a giant condor, and an earthquake. Followed by a trip to Australia, a treacherous gun runner named "Tom Ayverton", Maori cannibals, mutineers, a volcano eruption and finally finding "Mary" and "Robert's" father alive and a reunion.
The Tartars will capture Michael, his mother, and Nadia later in the story. Michael will be blinded for being a spy, or was he? Orarteff attempts to block a second courier now posing as Strogoff with the message given to him before Michael was captured. This will fail, Michael Strogoff gets the message in time to the Czar's brother and confronts the traitor, Ivan Orarteff.
THE SOLDIER AND THE LADY released on April 9, 1937
The first of "14" filmed versions of "Michael Strogoff" was one of only two from the United States and was released on October 19, 1914, with a running time of 45-minutes.
The next three versions of the Jules Verne novel have and interesting leading man.
Below is the poster for the February 7, 1936 German version starring Austrian actor Adolf Wohlbruck.
On March 10, 1936, France once again released a version of "Michael Strogoff". Austrian actor and French speaker, Adolf Wohlbuck, was back portraying the title role in the French production.
Once more the Multilanguage Austrian born actor Adolf Wohlbuck was back in the lead, but now his name had become Americanized as Anton Walbrook, see the first poster in this section. British actress Elizabeth Allan portrayed "Nadia", and Russian-American actor Akim Tamiroff portrayed the now named: Ogareff".
In 1884 Verne's novel "L'Etolie du sud (Star of the South aka The Southern Star)" was published, but the English language title was "The Vanished Diamond". Verne's original protagonist was a French mining engineer named "Cyprien Mere", but at some point, his name was changed in the later publications to "Victor Cyprien". The setting is the diamond fields of South Africa, where there's a group of suitors, including "Victor", for the hand of "Alice Watkins". Add to the plot the theft of an artificially created 243 carat diamond called "The Southern Star" and the hunt for the man believed to have stolen it.
Scottish director Sidney Hayers directed the motion picture except for the opening scenes by an uncredited Orson Welles. Prior to this motion picture Hayers directed five 1967 episodes of British televisions "The Avengers". He followed this movie with 1970's "Mister Jerico" starring Patrick Macnee of "The Avengers", Connie Stevens, and Herbert Lom, 1960's "The Mysterious Island".
The screenplay was by two writers, David Pursall wrote 1966's "The Blue Max" starring George Peppard, James Mason, and Ursula Andress. He followed this film with six 1972 episodes of the British television series "It's Murder, But Is It Art?"
Jack Seddon also wrote 1966's "The Blue Max" and the same episodes of "It's Murder, But Is It Art?"
George Segal portrayed "Dan Rockland". American Segal had just been seen in the Italian 1968 "The Girl Who Couldn't Say No", and followed this picture with 1969's "The Bridge at Remagen" co-starring Robert Vaughn.
Orson Welles portrayed "Plankett". Welles was searching for money to keep working on projects he wanted to do and was located in Italy at this time. He was attempting to avoid the American IRS for back taxes he owed and had a contract with CBS to make a series called "Orson's Bag". However, while planning a shorten version of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" for that program, the American IRS impounded his funds that CBS was to have sent him to Italy. So, just prior to this picture he co-starred with Tomas Milian in a spaghetti western 1969's "Tepepa" to keep afloat and would follow this feature with 1969's "Bitka na Neretvi aka The Battle of Neretva". Which was filmed in Yugoslavia and co-produced by Yugoslavia, Italy, West Germany, and the United States with an international cast.
Ian Henry portrayed "Captain Karl Ludwig". English actor Henry had recently been seen in a two-part 1969 episode of Roger Moore's television series "The Saint", and followed this feature with the British science fiction 1969's "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun".
In 1912 fortune hunter "Dan Rockland" comes to West Africa pretending to be a geologist, but in reality, he is working for a man named "Kramer", played by Harry Andrews, whose sole interest is obtaining diamonds by any means possible.
A huge diamond called "The Southern Star" has been found and traveling by train are "Dan Rockland" and his African companion "Matakit" sent to obtain it for "Kramer". Which they do, but "Captain Karl Ludwig" is jealous of "Rockland", who is engaged to "Kramer's" daughter "Erica", and blows up the train hoping to kill him.
However, "Dan Rockland" and "Matakit" are still able to get "The Southern Star" to "Kramer" who holds a party to celebrate it. There's a power outage and the diamond and "Matakit" disappear and "Rockland" is imprisoned as his accomplice. "Erica" helps "Dan" escape and the hunt for "The Southern Star" is on! However, back in West Africa "Ludwig" joins forces with "Major Plankett", "Kramer's" fired security chief who has sworn revenge of his boss.
The Jules Verne novel "Un capitaine de quinze ans (A fifteen-year-old captain)" with the English title of "Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen" was published in 1878.
The first filmed version of the novel was made by the Soviet Union and is an interesting choice for Russian film maker Vasily Zhuravlyov, because Verne's novel deals with the African slave trade and slavery in general. I mention this, because the Russian revolution supposedly freed the people of slavery to the Czar. The novel tells how 15-years-old "Dick Sand" became the captain of the slave ship "Pilgrim" after a mutiny.
Using the Soviet Union's title for the novel, on December 22, 1986, the third motion picture version of Jules Verne's novel, "Captain of the Pilgrim", was released in Russia. It should be noted that the Soviet Union features had a happier ending as compared to the novel.
Mike Todd created a very large screen film process he called "Todd A-O" and his first motion picture was:
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS released on October 17, 1956
The first motion picture based upon Verne's novel wasn't the original story, but a 1923 American silent entitled "Around the World in 18 Days", released on January 1, 1923. The picture starred William Desmond as "Phineas Fogg III", note the spelling of his first name, the grandson of the original Verne character. "Fogg" along with his valet "Jiggs" are going to attempt to recreate his grandfather's trip. This was a Cliff -Hanger serial and I could not locate why it would only take 18 not 80 Days?
Which brings me to the Mike Todd 1956 production.
British director Michael Anderson had just filmed the 1956 version of George Orwell's "1984" starring Edmond O'Brien, Sir Michael Redgrave, and Jan Sterling. He would follow this feature with the Chinese Civil War story, 1957's "Battle Hell" starring Sir Richard Todd, William Hartnell soon to be the First "Dr. Who", and Akim Tamiroff.
The Spanish sequences were directed by John Farrow without credit. Farrow had just directed 1955's "The Sea Chase" starring John Wayne, Lana Turner, and David Farrar. He would follow this picture with the film-noir, 1957's "The Unholy Wife" starring Diana Dors, Rod Steiger, and Tom Tryon.
The four leading actors were:
Cantinflas portrayed "Passepartout", no first name mentioned. The popular Mexican comedian was basically appearing in Mexican motion picture comedies. After this English language film, he appeared in the title role of 1960's "Pepe" co-starring with Dan Dailey and Shirley Jones.
Robert Newton portrayed "Inspector Fix". The British character actor had been appearing on American television and followed this motion picture with the Australian television series "The Adventures of Long John Silver", a role Newton had portrayed twice before. First in Walt Disney's classic 1950 version of Robert Lewis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" and again in the Australian 1954 motion picture "Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island". My article, "Robert Newton IS 'Long John Silver': The Definitive Motion Picture Pirate of the Caribbean" can be read at:
Shirley MacLaine portrayed "Princess Aouda". MacLaine had just co-starred in the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis 1955 "Artists and Models" and followed this motion picture by co-starring with Glenn Ford and Leslie Nielson in 1958's "The Sheepman".
Above left to right, David Niven, Cantinflas, Robert Newton, and Shirley MacLaine.
In 1872 Victorian London, "Phileas Fogg" has just acquired a valet named "Passepartout" and after explaining his very precise and never deviating daily routine goes to "The Reform Club". There he makes a wager than he can circumnavigate the globe in 80-days.
With "Fix" in hot pursuit the movie is three things, enjoyable adventure story travelogue, including the rescue as a human sacrifice of a beautiful "Princess" in India, and a large who's who of Hollywood, the United Kingdom, and European stars popping in and out of the movie.
In the back of the program, seen below, for the motion picture were names and pictures of the 40 plus stars in Victorian Picture Frames known as "Cameos" and the term was started for such roles.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH released on December 16, 1959
Above, one of the American posters and below one of the United Kingdom posters with the different spelling to the word "Center".
The 1959's motion picture was the first filmed version of this Jules Verne's tale.
The screenplay was from two writers, Walter Reisch, 1938's "The Great Waltz" starring Louise Rainer, 1939's "Ninotchka" starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas, 1940's "Comrade X" starring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr, 1941's "That Hamilton Woman" starring Vivian Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier, and 1944's "Gaslight" starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotton, among others.
Charles Brackett, 1945's "The Lost Weekend" starring Oscar winner Ray Milland, 1950's "Sunset Blvd." starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson, both 1953's "Niagara" starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton, and, "Titantic" starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, and Robert Wagner.
A volcanic piece of lava was given to the Professor by "Alec" and the other students after he has been knighted. However, the lava is too heavy to be lava and inside is a plumb bob with writing from the Icelandic explorer "Arne Saknuessemm" about how to enter the earth, it is also written in his blood. This leads to going to Iceland, meeting the wife of the scientist who stole "Lindenbrook's" information and was killed by "Count Saknusseum", the last of the family whose ancestor first went to the center of the earth, and her joining the Professor, "Alec" and "Hans" entering Snaefellsjokull unknowingly being followed by the Count. All leading to the remains of Atlantis and a way up through the volcanic vent of Stromboli.
Next, was a Spanish and United Kingdom version of the novel, "Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Journey to the Center of the Earth)" premiering at the "Paris Festival of Fantastic Films" in March 1977.
The dubbed English language version was renamed "Where Time Began" and it was first shown in the United States in November 1978.
The updated screenplay came from three writers, Michael D. Weiss, director Tobe Hooper's 2000 "Crocodile", and the made for television 2000 "Octopus", 2001 "Octopus 2", and their accompanying video games. Jennifer Flackett, a writer for both the television series "Beverly Hills, 90210", and "Earth 2". Mark Levin, also a television writer for the original "The Wonder Years", and "Earth 2".
Brendon Fraser portrayed "Trevor Anderson". In 2007, Fraser co-starred with Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Air I Breathe", and followed this movie with 2008 "The Mummy: Curse of the Emperor's Tomb".
Josh Hutchinson portrayed "Sean Anderson". Anderson was in the cast of 2008's "Winged Creatures" starring Kate Beckinsale, Forest Whitaker, and Guy Pierce. He would follow this picture with 2009's "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant".
Anita Briem portrayed "Hannah Asgerisson". Icelandic actress Briem had been appearing on British television including "Dr. Who".
The updating of the Jules Verne's novel works, because the screenplay writers basically followed the story line.
The year is 2007 and volcanologist "Trevor Anderson" is about to get stuck with his 13-years-old nephew, "Sean", for 10 days. Along with boxes of junk belonging to "Trevor's" brother "Max", "Sean's" father, who disappeared 10-years ago. Inside one of the boxes is the Jules Verne novel, but with notes made by "Max" that will lead the two to Iceland in search of another volcanologist. They meet his daughter, "Hannah", who informs the two that her father is dead. However, talking things over leads the three to enter the center of the earth. Apparently, both "Hannah's" father and "Max Anderson" believed that the Verne novel was based upon fact.
From this point forward the film follows the novel except that they are also searching for "Max" until they find his body. In the end they escape through "Mt. Vesuvius".
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON released on November 6, 1958
Both novels are set just after the American Civil War and the first starts at a meeting of "The Baltimore Gun Club" called by its President "Impey Barbicane". The weapons manufacturer has determined that it is possible to build a cannon that could fire a projectile carrying passengers to the Moon. The gun club is behind "Barbicane's" idea, but "Captain Nicholl", a Philadelphia armor plate manufacturer is against the idea.
The sequel answers that question as the reader follows the three around the moon and back to the earth as the projectile crashes into the ocean and the three are alive and rescued.
The first motion picture version of the two novels was the classic, 9-minute at 24 frames per second, special effects silent by Georges Melies, 1902 "Le Voyage dans la Luna (A Trip to the Moon)". As some have suggested, Melies had to have also referenced British author H.G. Wells' 1901 "First Men in the Moon", because on the moon are Wells' "Selenite's".
The screenplay was based upon both Jules Verne novels and written by two writers:
Robert Blees, the Barbara Stanwyck and Ronald Reagan 1954 "Cattle Queen of Montana", and Stop Motion Animator Willis O'Brien's 1957 "The Black Scorpion".
Joseph Cotton portrayed "Victor Barbicane". Cotton was appearing mainly on television at this time, but had the uncredited role of "The Coroner" in Orson Welles' 1958 film-noir classic "Touch of Evil" starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and Welles. He had also appeared in both Orson Welles' 1941 "Citizen Kane", and 1942's "The Magnificent Ambersons".
George Sanders portrayed "Stuyvesant Nicholl". Sanders had co-starred with Stewart Granger and Donna Reed in 1958's "The Whole Truth", and followed this picture with the Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida 1959 "Solomon and Sheba".
Above, George Sanders and Joseph Cotton.
Debra Paget portrayed "Virginia Nicholl". She had just been in 1957's "Omar Khayaam" co-starring with Cornell Wilde and Michael Rennie. Paget followed this picture with 1959's "Tigress of Bengal" directed by Fritz Lang.
Don Dubbins portrayed "Ben Sharpe". Dubbins was also only appearing on television at this time.
Shortly after the Civil War, munitions manufacture "Victor Barbicane" claims to have invented the most powerful expose known to man that he calls "Power X". Metallurgist "Stuyvesant Nicholl" scuffs at "Barbicane's" claim and wagers $100,000 1865 dollars that it can't dent his new metal. "Barbicane" accepts and shows up for the demonstration with a small cannon and an even smaller shell containing an even smaller amount of "Power X". He fires the shell at the metal and not only demolishes the metal slab, but a large portion of the countryside.
"Barbicane" is called to "President Ulysses S. Grant's", played by Morris Ankrum, office and asked to stop experimenting with "Power X", because other countries are calling it a potential act of war.
The two men work together and soon both the shell-like craft and the giant cannon are ready.
Now the screenplay slips into typical 1950's science fiction as ""Virginia Nicholl's" hides on the shell-like space craft and with her father, "Victor Barbicane" and "Ben Sharpe" is shot from the cannon toward the moon.
The ship is saved, but the two scientists must figure out what's next?
The two one-time adversaries determines that the fuel load cannot take four passengers back to the earth. "Ben" is knocked out and with "Virginia" placed in the safest compartment of the space shell, the two scientists eject it from the main craft sending it toward the earth. While their part of the space shell should take them to the moon's surface.
When "Ben" regains consciousness, he realizes what has taken place and with "Virginia" they see a signal from the moon's surface, "Victor" and "Stuyvesant" have made it, but its the dark side and the two young people will be the only ones to know it.
Mr. Jules Verne?
Note on the American title:
Director Don Sharp was the second unit director on a very successful 1965 epic comedy period piece about an air race in 1910, entitled, "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines; Or, How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours and 11 Minutes", an obvious play on the original French title of "From the Earth to the Moon".
Sharp had directed episodes of the British crime series, "Ghost Squad", and went to work for "Hammer Films" directing 1963's "Kiss of the Vampire", and 1966's "Rasputin the Mad Monk" starring Christopher Lee. He also directed Lee in two co-productions between the United Kingdom and West Germany, 1965's "The Face of Fu Manchu", and, 1966's "The Brides of Fu Manchu". Another of Don Sharp's horror entries was the final film in the original "The Fly Trilogy", 1965's "Curse of the Fly".
Dave Freeman wrote the actual screenplay. Freeman was basically a British television series writer.
Terry-Thomas portrayed "Captain Sir Harry Washington Smythe". At the time Terry-Thomas was appearing on British television comedy shows.
Dennis Price portrayed "The Duke of Barset". Price was a regular on the British television series "The World of Wooster" and had just been seen in the 1967 British comedy movie "Just Like a Woman".
Daliah Lavi portrayed "Madeline". Lavi had just portrayed one of the many "James Bond 007's" in the still very funny and slap stick comedy version of "Casino Royale" from 1967, starring Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress and partly written by Woody Allen playing "Little Jimmy Bond". The actress followed this picture with 1968's "Nobody Runs Forever aka The High Commissioner" starring Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer.
What follows is a comedy of inept spies and scientists, the firing of the cannon's projectile, but it lands not on the moon but Russia. When the projectiles passengers disembark on a barren stretch of Siberia and hear Russian being spoken. They determine that Russia has beaten England to the earth's nearest space neighbor.
In the year 1866 a sea monster is attacking and destroying shipping. The U.S. Government believes it to be a giant narwhal and in New York City they're organizing a search to find and kill the sea creature. It just happens that French marine biologist, "Professor Pierre Aronnax" is in the city and he accepts an invitation to go on the search. He will be accompanied by his devoted Flemish servant, "Conseil", who is also well informed on biological classifications. The American search additionally requests Canadian harpooner, "Ned Land" to accompany it. What they do not know is that this is no living sea creature, but a submarine built by its scientist leader, "Captain Nemo". Who went into underwater isolation after his homeland was conquered and his family murdered in front of him by a nationalist country.
The motivation for the story is "Captain Nemo's" hunt for revenge again ex-British Indian Army Officer "Charles Denver", played by William Welsh, who murdered "Prince Dakkar's" wife for refusing to have sex with him and took their young daughter.
Cut to the escape scene from the Confederate prison in "The Mysterious Island", and the escapees arrival on a island with their leader, "Union Captain Cyrus Harding", played by Howard Crampton. There they find a "Child of Nature", played by Jane Gail, and of course, she is "Dakkar's" missing daughter.
What was the problem stopping Walt Disney from getting Richard Fleischer?
Verne's novel and the first filmed version both take place in 1866, but Disney's is set two years later in 1868. This clearly removes an ambiguity with the American Civil War that even Jules Verne created with his sequel "The Mysterious Island".
A sea monster is attacking shipping in the Pacific and commercial traffic has been brought to a standstill. French scientist "Pierre Arronax" and his assistant "Conseil" are stranded in the United States as a result and need to get back to France. The American government offers them a means to return home by being their guest on a frigate searching for the sea monster for a set time, they agree. Also, on board is harpooner "Ned Land" and the three become companions.
There is hope for the future. And when the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass...in God's good time.
The five fly the balloon through a great storm crossing the entire North American continent and come down on an unknown Pacific Island. Somebody has rescued "Harding" from the ocean after he falls off the balloon and seems to be supplying them with needed building materials from the "Nautilus". The secret of the island is "Captain Nemo" and the "Nautilus" did not go down as written in the first novel.
Additionally, in the "Mysterious Island", "Tom Ayverton", from "In Search of the Castaways", reappears with some of his men, but are killed by pirates. Who in turn, are killed by "Captain Nemo" and their ship becomes the means of escape from the island as a volcano erupts and destroys it.
"Carl L. Pierson Forgotten Film Editor", at:
Besides training gimmick king William Castle, Sam Katzman was a very interesting personality. For those of my readers who might be interested, my article, "Superman' Meets 'The Giant Claw' to the Tunes of 'Bill Haley and the Comets': Executive Producer Sam Katzman" may be read at:
If you remove the women from Mercury searching the only location in the entire universe for a special explosive, the story is very close to Verne's, but then what kid at a "Saturday Morning Kids Show" cared?
The American title was, "Mysterious Island", the U.K. title was "Jules Verne's Mysterious Island".
The balloon escapes the Richmond, Virginia, prisoner camp and into the fierce storm that will carry it across the continent and onto the "Mysterious Island".