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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

5.0 2
Director: Irwin Allen

Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden


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Irwin Allen's Voyage To the Bottom Of The Sea (1961) was originally released on DVD paired with Richard Fleischer's Fantastic Voyage (1966), which was fairly satisfying as far as it went. But this Special Edition re-release of Allen's movie considerably expands on that basic release -- the old transfer was not available to be compared, but the new


Irwin Allen's Voyage To the Bottom Of The Sea (1961) was originally released on DVD paired with Richard Fleischer's Fantastic Voyage (1966), which was fairly satisfying as far as it went. But this Special Edition re-release of Allen's movie considerably expands on that basic release -- the old transfer was not available to be compared, but the new edition looks beautiful, and comes with a commentary track, interviews, and a documentary, as well as reproductions of publicity art, production stills, shots of original props, and the original trailer for the movie. In contrast to the original release, this DVD comes in a handsome slipcase that is squared off at the edges and gives the item the look of a book on a shelf. The letterboxed (2.35-to-1) transfer captures the film's visual splendor -- and there is a lot of the latter, derived mostly from L. B. Abbott's special effects and the still-impressive set designs -- and the rich color of the original, about as well as the best theatrical print that this reviewer has ever seen. The movie has been given a generous two-dozen chapters, which break the episodic plot down nicely and form a pretty fair outline of the story. The featurette on the history of science fiction is reasonably informative, and the interview with Barbara Eden is entertaining and, actually, rather touching at times as she recalls her extensive work with Irwin Allen. The weak link, if there is one, lies in the commentary track by Tim Colliver -- he means well, and he tries hard with his lecture, but he's a little too unfocused at times, and he often seems to be pitching his discussion at a juvenile audience (he is a grade-school teacher, when he isn't writing books) rather than adult listeners. He also makes the mistake -- possibly over a lack of analytical ability -- of spending a great deal of time comparing the action in the movie to the details of the novelization, which gets tedious after the fifth or sixth time he does it. He occasionally brings up an important point, but more often he ends up repeating himself in the comparisons. His work is worth hearing, but not more than once, in this critic's view, which is a shame, given the effort.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Reviewing Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea isn't easy -- it isn't Forbidden Planet, with lots of profound ideas scattered around its script, or even The Fly, with a story of human frailty at its core; nor is it even Journey to the Center of the Earth, with its outsized special effects, score, and casting; rather, it represents the fun side of science fiction cinema. Producer/director Irwin Allen was a popular culture maven -- if he saw the potential to recycle an idea into something new and profitable, and pitch it in a new or different way, he did it. Thus, his production of The Big Circus was a B-movie (or "nervous A"-movie) recycling of The Greatest Show on Earth, right down to having Peter Lorre (as opposed to James Stewart) in clown makeup; and Five Weeks in a Balloon was his more modest adaptation of a Jules Verne tale, done after Around the World in 80 Days. And Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was Allen's attempt to retell Disney's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in modern terms, even getting Peter Lorre into the new movie; nuclear submarines were still a source of wonder in 1961, and the Van Allen radiation belt surrounding Earth was still a new discovery, thus giving the movie a topical edge that the Disney film had lacked. Allen's direction is a little flaccid by today's standards, but the movie is great fun and paced perfectly, packing in about two hours' worth of excitement into just over 100 minutes of screen time, all of it looking sparklingly new and topical in its settings at that time. The finished film emphasized the things that Allen cared about most: adventure, excitement, lots of undersea shots (Allen had a special fascination with undersea adventures, having made the Oscar-winning documentary The Sea Around Us), and some colorful star performances. The special effects by L.B. Abbott are the real "star" of the movie, but Walter Pidgeon brings a certain eccentric dignity to the proceedings as the possibly "mad" Admiral Harriman Nelson (a pop-culture re-imagining of real-life nuclear navy gadfly Admiral Hyman Rickover), and the rest of the cast, down to the bit players, brings a lot of color to the film. The television series subsequently spawned by this movie used most of the models and special effects designs as a jumping-off point, and became what was the longest-running non-anthology network science fiction series in history, lasting four seasons.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:

Special Features

Commentary by author Tim Colliver; Science Fiction: Fantasy to Reality documentary; Interview with Barbara Eden; Production art, production stills & original prop galleries; Original theatrical trailer; Original exhibitor's campaign manual; Poster and lobby card gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Walter Pidgeon Adm. Harriman Nelson
Joan Fontaine Dr. Susan Hiller
Barbara Eden Cathy Connors
Peter Lorre Cmdre. Lucius Emery
Robert Sterling Capt. Lee Crane
Michael Ansara Miguel Alvarez
Frankie Avalon Chip Romano
Regis Toomey Dr. Jamieson
John Litel Adm. Crawford
Howard McNear Congressman Parker
Henry Daniell Dr. Zucco
Skip Ward Member of Crew
Mark Slade Smith
Charles Tannen Gleason
Michael D. Ford Crew Member
Robert Easton Sparks
Jonathan Gilmore Young
David McLean Ned Thompson
Art Baker UN Commentator
Lawrence Gray [act] Dr. Newmar
Kendrick Huxham UN Chairman

Technical Credits
Irwin Allen Director,Original Story,Producer,Screenwriter
L.B. Abbott Special Effects
Charles Bennett Screenwriter
Herman A. Blumenthal Art Director
George Boemler Editor
Russell Faith Songwriter
Bernard Herrmann Score Composer
Winton Hoch Cinematographer
Ben Nye Makeup
Paul Sawtell Score Composer
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Bert Shefter Score Composer
Jack Martin Smith Art Director
John Sturtevant Set Decoration/Design
Paul Zastupnevich Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea [Global Warming Edition]
1. Main Titles [:21]
2. Nelson's Folly [2:03]
3. The Grand Tour [:46]
4. Undignified Behavior [4:00]
5. Take Her Deep [4:00]
6. Emergency! [2:53]
7. Fire in the Sky [2:49]
8. The Survivor [1:45]
9. Nelson's Formula [:28]
10. Meeting of the Minds [2:16]
11. Crash Dive to Destiny [2:58]
12. To the Marianas [2:42]
13. Fighters & Fatalists [:33]
14. Tapping the Cable [3:33]
15. The Giant Squid [3:03]
16. Out of Contact [4:04]
17. Nelson's Decision [2:07]
18. The Doctor's Opinion [1:43]
19. Power Outage [:57]
20. The Mine Field [5:25]
21. The Mini-Sub [:35]
22. Sabotage [4:49]
23. Fire! [1:31]
24. Death Ship [3:02]
25. Near-Mutiny [1:08]
26. The Admiral's Conduct [2:36]
27. Rocky Judgment [1:55]
28. Battle Stations! [:20]
29. The Sub & The Squid [1:52]
30. The Enemies Inside [2:29]
31. Crane's Gambit [4:12]
32. Full Speed for Home [3:33]


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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I guess you could look at this film as a pilot to Irwin Allen's wild VTTBOTS TV series. The evil psychiatrist was cool and so was the conflicting orders and attitudes of the crew. Stop giving the captain why you can't do something or how an action won't work. Give the guy a break. Yes, should be seen in letterbox format.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must see film for anyone who likes sea.