With James Mason, Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Reviewed by JB

       One of Disney's first and largest attempts at creating a live action picture that would rival his classic animated movies, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, adapted from the Jules Verne novel, was a star-filled, big budget, special effects extravaganza that still manages to be impressive. Some of the effects sequences, including an attack on Nemo's submarine by a giant squid, are hopelessly dated, but other major scenes, such as a tribe of cannibals chasing Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre over water, still work.

     No matter what problems 20,0000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA may have, most of them are meaningless thanks to James Mason, who creates one of his signature villain roles, one that almost rivals his turn in Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST several years later. The other three stars may not be as impressive as you would hope, but James Mason is so super cool as the villainous Captain Nemo that they could have hired Moe, Larry and Curly to play the other parts and would hardly matter. His icy cold, level-headed Captain Nemo, calmly going about his business (blowing up warships) in a business-like way, probably influenced the villains of the James Bond series (Dr. Julius No and especially Sir Hugo Drax come to mind) and the film itself certainly influenced the plot and set design of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

     A grand sci-fi / adventure / fantasy film, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA opened the door for a flurry of film adaptations of Verne novels including AROUND THE WORD IN 80 DAYS (1956), FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON (1958) and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961), to name just a few. 4 - JB


"The natives over there are cannibals. They eat liars with the same enthusiasm as they eat honest men."

Fantasy     The Secret Vortex