Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Scientists at the Inner Space Project (headquarters for which seem to be located somewhere in West Africa) have plans to shoot a nuclear missile into the earth's core to tap its magma as a new power source. The head honcho (Dana Andrews) is gung-ho, but his younger protege (Kieron Moore) has serious doubts, worried that the earth's crust has been weakened too much by nuclear testing. Stuck between these two is the lovely Janette Scott, currently married to Andrews, but the former lover of Moore. Andrews wins the day when the project is given the go-ahead by the British government; the missile firing is successful, but soon a series of strong earthquakes are triggered in the vicinity and it's discovered that a deep fissure has opened in the ocean floor which could rip the planet apart. Like many a sci-fi film of the 50s and 60s, a romantic triangle serves as the primary subplot; this one has a shade more meat on it than most. Andrews is older but still looks like a realistic mate choice for the much younger Scott; her main concern is that she wants a child; his main concern, which he hides from her, is that he's dying of cancer. Moore (relatively hunky for a British B-actor of the era) is bland but young, healthy, and proven right in his concerns over the project. This had a decent budget for the time, back in the pre-Star Wars days when sci-fi films never had lots of money to play with, and it looks good with fine sets and good cinematography. It skimps on the special effects until the end when we get some good miniature work. The uncertainty about where the film is set is irritating--people keep jumping into helicopters and heading off to talk to a government minister (Alexander Knox, good as always) and zipping right back to the project. I first thought the project was in Australia, but when we see a map of the quakes, it seems clear that the missile must have been set off in Africa. The ending was a good idea that could not be well realized on screen back then, though with today's digital effects, it would be easy to pull off now. Extra points for having two leads mentioned in the opening song of Rocky Horror. [Streaming]

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