Mysterious Island



Who’s in this?

Herbert Lom as Captain Nemo of the Nautilus. The late Herbert Lom had a career that spanned over fifty years with over 100 credits.  He was in Spartacus, The Ladykillers and  plenty of horror films including the Dead Zone, Asylum and Hammer’s Phantom of the opera. He is perhaps most known for playing the Chief Inspector in the Pink Panther films. There is no mistaking his powerful voice. He passed away in his sleep last fall at the age of 95.

Michael Craig as Captain Harding of the Union Army. Craig worked started working on film in the late 40’s and has a credit as recently as 2011. He has also worked on stage quite a bit over the years. In the 1970’s he moved to Australia and much of his work since then has been there.

Joan Greenwood as Lady Mary a shipwreck victim who washes onto the island. She got into acting in her late teens and most of her more known work came shortly after that.

Michael Callan as Herbert Brown a young Union soldier. Callan had a singing and dancing background, but mainly played a guys with girl troubles in TV and movies.


What’s this about? A few Union soldiers escape from a prison camp by hot air balloon taking a along a reporter and a Confederate soldier. Unfortunately luck is not on their side as they take the balloon into a terrible storm that blows off to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.  Eventually they run into a giant crab (the one with the claws not a big, grumpy person). Later they find two woman who survived the sinking of their boat. There is a run in with a giant bird which they eventually win. So this island is just full of giant thingies. They also deal with pirates and giant bees. Then just when you think this little island is crazy it gets even more so as Captain Nemo shows up saying he’s been helping this group all along and he has a submarine nearby, but it’s in rough shape. Nemo also says the volcano on the island will soon erupt and kill them if they don’t find a way to get away from the island. His idea is to pump up this pirate ship that he just sunk, patch the whole and boom they’ll be out of here. It doesn’t work quite that smoothly as Nemo doesn’t make it but the rest of them do get away in the ship. Roll the credits and so long to the Mysterious Island that’s now be covered by icky lava.

The negatives-Actually I have no gripes. However I should mention some complaints I’ve heard about it. So this movie is based on Jules Verne’s book of the same name, but the book is very different. There are no giant monsters or shipwrecked woman so some snoots growl at this movie for taking liberties and making it so different from the book. Ray Harryhausen said when he was a approached with the idea of doing a film of this book he felt it would be tough because there wasn’t enough there to make an action movie so we got giant monsters and shipwrecked woman.

The positives-I think this is one of Harryhausen’s best films with some great creations. It’s also a strong action movie as well. I first saw this when I was 12 and was mesmerized plus I still love it. The action is good enough, the locations are great and the pace is steady. A strong movie indeed that has stood up very well over time.


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The appeal of giant monsters


What’s cooler than a monster? Well, a giant monster of course. Giants have been around for a long time and were in mythology, folk and fairy tales from many cultures. Obviously there’s always a sense of awe of sometimes fear over a creature of great size.  So it’s no surprise that when movies came around that giant monster and giant creatures would soon appear in films.  If a human size monster could terrorize a town than a giant on could surely send a major city into a frenzy.


So with larger monsters came larger areas for them to roam upon and send a metropolis into a panic. With giants they could not be dealt by just the local police so we often see the military being called out to combat with these big beasties with not just guys but tanks and planes as well with heavy artillery trying to bring the creature to a halt. Many of these monsters like King Kong, Godzilla and others were so popular that they weren’t just monsters but were the stars of their respective films. Over here in the states the 1950’s saw an outpouring of giant every things from fantastic stop motion by Ray Harryhausen down to bargain basement giants from anyone who could slap together enough money to make a film and slap a big beast in it. Japanese films also saw giants taking off in the 50’s starting with Gojira/Godzilla and then other rivals came in as well over the years. These tall terrors were sometimes freaks of nature or maybe they were ancient creatures that were revived or frequently they were transformed by radioactive material or some other substance gone wrong.


Even though I look at these films now and  can see the effects for what they more obviously than when  I first saw them as a kid there is still something fantastic about a giant monster. The idea of people running screaming for fear of being stomped or eaten can go a long ways. Even if an old film was a clunker if it has a giant monster in it then I’ll certainly give it a chance.