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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: Film, TV.

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1. Film (1961). Windsor Productions/Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by Irwin Allen. Written by Allen and Charles Bennett. Cast includes Barbara Eden, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre, Walter Pidgeon and Robert Sterling. 105 minutes. Colour.

The crew of a glass-nosed nuclear submarine has a mission to fire an atomic missile into the Van Allen belts, which have been set on fire by meteors (!) and are melting the icecaps. Despite enemy submarines, a giant octopus and other hazards, the mission succeeds. As with most of Allen's productions, the plot does not survive an instant's rational scrutiny; it is full of astonishing Scientific Errors. The novelization was Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) by Theodore Sturgeon.

2. US tv series (1964-1968). An Irwin Allen Production for Twentieth Century Fox TV/ABC. Created by Irwin Allen, executive producer. Story consultant Sidney Marshall. Writers included Harlan Ellison (one episode as by Cordwainer Bird), Peter Germano, Robert Hamner, Richard Landau, Rik Vollaerts and William Welch (34 episodes). Directors included Jus Addiss, Felix Feist, Harry Harris, Leonard Horn, Sobey Martin and Sutton Roley. Special effects L B Abbott. 110 50-minute episodes. First season black and white, the remaining three seasons colour.

Based on 1, this series concerned the exploits of the experimental submarine Seaview; it starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison. Early episodes had fairly conventional stories involving secret agents and threats from unfriendly foreign powers, but later the plots became increasingly fantastic: not only were the crew faced with such Monster dangers as giant whales, giant jellyfish, giant octopuses and giant "things", but their submarine was regularly invaded by a variety of esoteric menaces ranging from sentient seaweed to the ghost of a U-boat captain, other uninvited guests including a lobster man, a mummy, a leprechaun, a blob and a mad robot. Throughout, Basehart and Hedison kept straight faces. Abbott's special effects won several Emmy awards. Book spin-offs were Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1965) by Raymond F Jones and City Under the Sea (1965) by Paul W Fairman. [JB]

see also: Under the Sea.


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