Sunday, May 6, 2012

City Beneath the Sea (1971)

For the big audience Irwin Allen is the genius behind such seventies blockbusters as The Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno, two of the best disaster movies ever made. Go a couple of steps down and you'll find the fans of the TV-series he made in the sixties, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants - all among the most expensive and, in their time, spectacular TV-productions. After you have the fans of the mega-failure The Swarm (count me in there!) and those who love all the stuff he made for TV during the seventies, and that's where we are today.

I wish I could say that I saw City Beneath the Sea a lot on TV as a child, but I can't. Because this is the first time I've seen it! I'm not sure how many of Mr Allen's TV-projects went on air in Sweden, if any, but here I am - putting another piece of my own entertainment-puzzle together.

Admiral Michael Matthews (Stuart Whitman) is ordered back to take command over underwater city Pacifica. It's just an ordinary science and recreation-city, but when the news is that a giant meteorite is hurdling towards earth and will strike exactly at the same position as the city Matthews needs to organize a rescue mission and evacuate everyone. What he doesn't know is that one member of his team is planning to rob Pacifica of it's gold resources and use the panic to sneak out with a submarine filled with treasures!

City Beneath the Sea is a very typical production of Irwin Allen, and it reminded me a lot of what I've seen in this sixties serials. The sets are corny, the dialogues are corny and the effects are more colourful than realistic. You could put Stonehedge in the middle of this movie and it would look like masonite painted grey. The whole productions is SO artifical. Not to mention the huge amount of miniatures. The whole city looks like old radios and vertical vacuum cleaners. But I'm not bashing it, believe me. It starts of quite slow and have a hard time getting the attention of the audience, but when finally the heist subplot sets in the whole movie lifts itself from the "ordinary" to the "actually quite good" in a matter of minutes.

Stuart Whitman has always been a good hero, a rugged manly man-machine with a rough Beatles-haircut, and here he's good - but maybe a bit on the tired side. The best actor is Robert Wagner, sporting a smashing moustaches. He acts like he's in a "real" movie and not a made for TV cheapie by Irwin Allen.

Irwin Allen belongs to the same traditions of filmmakers like Bert I. Gordon and Kevin Connor: they made entertainment. Pure entertainment. Shameless shallow silliness made with heart and passion (well, I'm not sure we'll find any of that in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out...).

City Beneath the Sea is out from Warner Archive, but also from Warner in Spain. Give it a shot! If you're a returning reader here you will enjoy it a lot!

...Yes, and on the rock bottom you have the fans of uninspired disaster-fiasco When Time Ran Out... I'm of course also one of them. Please Warner Archive, release the long version! I'll give you a hug!


Anonymous said...

Yeah I might just do as you say...or write I mean.....ahhahhahah.

The Swarm (1978)has been on TV4, TV4 film etc...soooo I´ve seen it a couple of times.

Have you seen the The Birthday Party (1968)yet..?

An early Friedkin film...very good film...based on play by Pinter.

Ninja Dixon said...

No, I haven't seen it - but I'm not mistaken I have it somewhere in the collection - The Birthday Party of course.

And The Swarm, I've seen it so many times - maybe too many times! haha!

Lee Goldberg said...

CITY BENEATH THE SEA was a pilot for a proposed series...and a remake of an earlier unsold pilot that Irwin Allen produced.

Ninja Dixon said...

Yeah, I know. And good stuff :)