Underwater City, The

Tagged: Film

Film (1962). Neptune Productions/Columbia Pictures. Directed by Frank McDonald. Produced by Alex Gordon. Written by Gordon, Ruth Alexander and Orville Hampton (credited as Owen Harris). Cast includes Julie Adams, George DeNormand (uncredited), Chet Douglas, William Lundigan, Karen Norris and Cecil Benton Reid. Narrator: Vince Williams (uncredited). 78 minutes. Black and white in theatre prints; colour in television prints.

Dr Junius Halstead (Reid) has a dream of colonizing the ocean floor (see Under the Sea), and plans the experimental Amphibia City to prove that the idea is practical. Such undersea colonies could also be safe havens for humanity in the event of a nuclear World War Three. Gathering a team of Scientists and old Navy friends, Dr Halstead selects a location, presumably in the Atlantic Ocean. Though his geologist Dr Carl Wendt (DeNormand) is killed by a giant moray eel early on, the undersea City is soon a reality, with its resident team including psychologist Dr Monica Powers (Adams), nutritionist Dr Phyllis Gatewood (Norris), engineer Bob Gage (Lundigan) and Halstead's old friend Chuck Marlow (Douglas). All goes well for a time as the team harvests sea plants and fish for food. It then emerges that Amphibia City has been built on a seabed fault which Wendt died before he could discover. Holes begin to open up in the sea floor; Halstead refuses to abandon his plans but is killed when a window-port shatters. As the base crumbles, the survivors retreat to the last remaining intact dome until rescued by a US Navy submarine. Pausing only for traditional romantic hook-ups, they vow to continue Halstead's visionary work.

The Underwater City embodies some dated attitudes – such as the supposed Humour of Marlow being an alcoholic and the assumption that undersea resources are unlimited – but is an interesting effort overall, transposing Space Habitat development issues to the seabed. The film poster was captioned "Inner Space Invaded" (see Inner Space). For unknown reasons, Columbia Pictures released the film to theatres in black and white, then sold it to Television in its original colour format. Adams was the heroine of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954); Lundigan starred in Men into Space (1959-1960). [GFi/DRL]

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