Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) starring Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lorre, Robert Sterling, Frankie Avalon, produced by Irwin Allen
First, I’d like to point of the positive points of Irwin Allen‘s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. And that begins with the fine acting by all involved. Some of my favorite actors appear here, including Walter Pidgeon (Forbidden Planet), Peter Lorre (M), etc. Also the special effects, and the sets are fine. The scenes on board the submarine actually look like what we would expect a submarine to look like. Even the fantastic effects (giant squid, etc.) look “right.”
The negative point, however, is the surplus of subplots. There are enough cases of sabotage on board this ship to get to the point of ridiculous. As well as potential mutinies, constant second-guessing of orders by the second in command…. And someone playing the part of Iago by manipulating other people to do the dirty work.
Synopsis of Voyage tot he Bottom of the Sea
Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) is a genius-level scientist. He has developed the most powerful atomic submarine in the history of the world — the Seaview. On its maiden voyage, various politicians (including Howard McNear, The Andy Griffith Show) are on board to see if they’ve gotten their money’s worth. While they are at sea, they discover that the Van Allen radiation belt is on fire. This causes havoc across the Earth. Admiral Nelson is asked to attend an international conference at the United Nations. Once there, he presents his plan. To launch an atomic missile from the Seaview at the correct time and location (the Antarctic). This will destroy the space debris caught and burning in the Van Allen belt.
The United Nations, then as now, is allergic to making a decision in a timely manner. While they discuss and debate, the Admiral leaves immediately. He hopes to get approval from the President of the United States while on the way. Along the way, there is conflict between the Admiral and the Captain (Robert Sterling), support from the Commodore (Peter Lorre), and interpersonal conflicts between the senior officers (including Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Frankie Avalon) and a rescued Michael Ansara (The Manitou)