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Unknown World

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1951; vt Night without Stars). Lippert Pictures. Produced by Irving Block (credited as I A Block) and Jack Rabin (credited as J R Rabin). Directed by Terry O Morse (credited as Terrell O Morse). Special effects by Block, Rabin, Willis Cook and Menrad von Muldorfer. Written by Millard Kaufman. Cast includes Victory Jory, Bruce Kellogg, Marilyn Nash and Otto Waldis. 74 minutes. Black and white.

Dr Jeremiah Morley (Killian) is convinced that the world is heading towards a nuclear war in the Near Future, and seeks funding for an expedition Underground into the earth's interior to search for a sanctuary for part of humanity when the inevitable war occurs. Funding from the Carlisle Foundation falls through at the last moment, so he is forced to agree to taking along adventurer Wright Thompson (Kellogg) in return for Thompson's financing of the project. Developing an atomic-powered earth-boring craft called a cyclotram, the expedition sets off and encounters various perils as they penetrate deep into the interior of the earth. Some team members die as Poison gases, magma flows and other dangers take their toil. At last, they reach a Hollow Earth world with its own ocean and light from phosphorescent stone – seemingly the sanctuary they desired. However, Dr Lindsey (Nash) discovers, using laboratory rabbits brought by the expedition, that something about this inner world – perhaps radiation – sterilizes living creatures. A catastrophe then occurs, possibly a volcanic eruption, causing a tsunami to sweep towards the team. Despondent, Dr Morley dies in the waters as the cyclotram is swept away. Eventually, the surviving expedition members come to the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, having realized another solution must be found.

This somewhat bleak film was undoubtedly influenced by the Jules Verne novel Voyage au centre de la terre (1864) but nevertheless deserves some attention. It seems to have been one of the first sf films to carry an anti-War, pro-Ecological message, many years before these themes became fashionable. It is cheaply produced; director Morse, as well as producers/special effects men Block and Rabin, went on to better efforts in the genre. [GSt]


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