Master of the World, starring Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, David Frankham
Synopsis of Master of the World
In Master of the World, four individuals use a lighter-than-air craft to investigate strange activity from a mountain. They fear a volcano. Instead, they find Robar, master of the Albatross, a massive heavier-than-air craft. He takes them aboard as he tries to end all warfare – by force.
Review of Master of the World
In short, Master of the World is a very enjoyable movie, with Vincent Price in the title role of Robar, the well-intentioned extremist. Robar is frankly someone whose motivation both the audience and his adversaries agree with – but not his methods. Unlike Jules Verne’s source novels, here Robar is portrayed almost like Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Cast of characters in Master of the World
- Strock (Charles Bronson – The Dirty Dozen) – the government agent tasked with finding out about the mysterious lights and noises coming from a mountain, so he gets the help of:
- Prudence (Henry Hull – Werewolf of London) – a rich manufacturer of munitions and lighter-than-air enthusiast. He brings along his daughter, since “there won’t be any danger”
- Dorothy Prudence (Mary Webster – The Delicate Delinquent) – who brings along her fiancee:
- Philip (David Frankham – Return of the Fly) – another lighter-than-air enthusiast, who doesn’t get along with either his future father-in-law or Strock, whom he wrongly suspects of cowardice
- Robar (Vincent Price – The Fly) – captain of The Albatross, who along with his international crew seek to end all warfare – a noble goal. However, he intends to do so by force, using his aerial advantage to drop bombs on anyone who doesn’t agree — or comply.
- Turner (Wally Campo) – Robar’s faithful right-hand man.
- Chef (Vito Scotti) – the chef on the Albatross, primarily comedy relief
In short, Master of the World is a very enjoyable movie, although removed from Jules Verne’s original story. The acting is excellent across the board. Vincent Price portrays the man willing to do anything to end war both sympathetically and coldly. Charles Bronson shines as the quiet, thinking man of action — who agrees with Robar’s goal, and Robar knows it:
I admire you, Mr. Strock. You do what you feel you must do without caring whether you alienate anyone or whether they understand you or not. That is my way. That is the only way for a man of dedication. I know that you would like to stop me, sir. For that reason, my impulse is to have you destroyed. My desire on the other hand is to have you join me.
Editorial review of Master of the World courtesy of Amazon.com
Inspired more by Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea than the Jules Verne novels it purports to be based upon (1896’s Clipper of the Clouds and 1904’s Master of the World), this American International Pictures production is a mildly diverting period fantasy adventure, buoyed mainly by leads Vincent Price and Charles Bronson. Nineteenth-century government agent Strock (Bronson) hires Prudence (Henry Hull), a munitions maker and balloon enthusiast, to help investigate the source of a mysterious voice that emanated from Pennsylvania’s Great Eyrie. With Prudence’s daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster) and her fiancé Philip (David Frankham), the pair flies over the mountain, only to be shot down and taken captive by Robur (Price). Using his colossal airship Albatross, Robur plans to end world warfare by decimating any country that refuses to lay down its arms.Despite solid efforts by Price and Bronson (who reportedly disliked each other), a thoughtful script by fantasy author Richard Matheson, and a lively score by Les Baxter, Master never takes flight.
Miniature effects by Tim Baar, Wah Chang, and Gene Warren (a.k.a. Projects Unlimited, which created creatures for “The Outer Limits”) are hobbled by AIP’s infamously low budget, and B-movie vet William Whitney’s direction is painfully lethargic. Lacking the necessary super-sized scope and star power of other Verne adaptations, including 1958’s Around the World in Eighty Days and 1959’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Master is for AIP and Price completists only. MGM’s digitally transferred full-frame print looks fabulous and includes the original theatrical trailer. –Paul Gaita