20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Released – December, 1954
Directed By – Richard Fleischer
Starring – Kirk Douglas (Ned Land), James Mason (Capt. Nemo), Paul Lukas (Prof. Pierre Aronnax), Peter Lorre (Conseil).
Description – Fear of sailing the Pacific Ocean has terrified sailors and crippled the sailing lanes. Many ships have been lost and rumors of a sea monster are spreading rapidly.
In an effort to investigate these rumors, the U.S. government has invited Prof. Aronnax and his assistant Conseil along on the expedition. After months of finding no trace of any sea monster their ship is rammed by the monster.
Prof. Aronnax, Conseil, and master harpooner Ned Land are thrown overboard and watch helplessly as the ships sinks. The three drift in the ocean until they come across an unusual metal vessel that appears to have been deserted.
They board the ship and as they look around come accross a room with a full-view glass view of the ocean floor. From this window they see what appears to be an underwater funeral. It is the ships crew holding the ceremony, and when they return to the strange ship they find and capture the castaways.
The ships captain introduces himself as Capt. Nemo, master of the Nautilus, and explains that this ship is a submarine and able to travel beneath the surface of the ocean. Prof. Aronnax is recognized by Nemo who wold like to recruit the Prof. to help with his work. Nemo has discovered the secrets to using nuclear power.
Meanwhile, Ned has discoverd the coordinates of Nemo’s secret island and sends the information off as notes in bottles in the hope that someone will find them and rescue the group. Little do they know that their adventure is just beginning.
The group will have to escape from cannibals, a giant squid, and an armada of warships intent on destroying Nemo’s island and stealing his nuclear secrets.
Capt. Nemo will do anything, including destroying everyone and the island himself, in order to protect his secrets.
NOTABLE: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea won the Oscar’s for Best Effects, Special Effects, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color. The film was also nominated for Best Film Editing.
This motion picture proved to be the most expensive production of its time surpassing Gone With the Wind.
During the scene where the cannibals are chasing Kirk Douglas’ character Ned Land the actors playing the cannibals painted humorous messages on their foreheads. The messages were not viewable on the screen, but read, “Eat at Joe’s,” and “I Ate Joe.”
The impressive scenes of the interior of the Nautilus were designed by Roland Hill. Hill would later design Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland.
Personal Note: An exciting 1950’s Science Fiction classic that should be enjoyed by each generation of children (and adults).