Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays: Mysterious Island (1961)

"Mysterious Island" (1961) is a tale of Union soldiers and a reporter from the North (Gary Merrill) who escape a Confederate prison camp by stealing a hot-air balloon, accidentally bringing one of the Confederate prison guards (Percy Herbert) with them.  Rough weather blows them way off course and the balloon eventually crashes into the sea.  Miraculously, they all manage to end up stranded but alive on a remote volcanic south Pacific island.  Union Captain Cyrus Harding (Michael Craig) assumes command of the group and they start to forage for food, only to encounter a gigantic crab.  They are able to kill it by tipping it into a hot spring, and boiled crab becomes their first meal on the island.  Slowly the group learns to work together and they make a life for themselves, in spite of a vague feeling that perhaps they are not alone on the island.  One day they find two stranded shipwreck survivors, Lady Mary Fairchild (Joan Greenwood) and her niece Elena (Beth Rogan).  A young soldier named Herbert Brown (Michael Callan) is instantly smitten with the latter, and the attraction is mutual.  A trunk is also found, mysteriously full of weapons and other items useful to the group.  When the castaways learn that the island is a favorite stopping place for pirates, they find an easily defensible cave for shelter.  More giant animals are encountered, including a large prehistoric flightless bird and huge bees.  Eventually they are discovered by the pirates and must fight for their lives, when suddenly an unexpected explosion sinks the pirate ship.  The group then finally meets the other inhabitant of their island, the legendary Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom), who plans to press them into service in order to escape from the island where he has been stranded ever since his submarine, the Nautilus, broke down there.  The island's mysteries are all explained by Nemo, who also tells them that the island's volcano will erupt very soon, and it then becomes a race against time to resurrect the pirate ship and escape before it is too late.

The movie is based upon a Jules Verne novel, The Mysterious Island.  Produced by Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen, it is most memorable for the special effects created by the legendary Harryhausen.  This movie is a well done, fast-paced, satisfying adventure tale that is well worth watching.

Interesting Fact: Joan Greenwood appeared in the BBC "Miss Marple" series as Lady Selina Hazy in the adaptation of the novel At Bertram's Hotel.

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 0

From Cinefanastique

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