Richard Fleischer Reviews

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Fantastic Voyage

Review Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea
The Andromeda Strain

Review Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea gets a dose of On the Beach in Irwin Allen's visually impressive but scientifically silly Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. While the Seaview, the world's most advanced experimental submarine, maneuvers under the North Pole, the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, giving the concept "global warming" an entirely new dimension. As the Earth broils in temperatures approaching 170 degrees F, Walter Pidgeon's maniacally driven Admiral Nelson hijacks the Seaview and plays tag with the world's combined naval forces on a race to the South Pacific, where he plans to extinguish the interstellar fire with a well-placed nuclear missile. But first he has to fight a mutinous crew, an alarmingly effective saboteur, not one but two giant squid attacks, and a host of design flaws that nearly cripple the mission (note to Nelson: think backup generators). Barbara Eden shimmies to Frankie Avalon's trumpet solos in the most formfitting naval uniform you've ever seen, fish-loving Peter Lorre plays in the shark tank, gloomy religious fanatic Michael Ansara preaches Armageddon, and Joan Fontaine looks very uncomfortable playing an armchair psychoanalyst. It's all pretty absurd, but Allen pumps it up with larger-than-life spectacle and lovely miniature work. --Sean Axmaker

Fantastic Voyage
2001: A Space Odyssey took the world on a mind-bending trip to outer space, but Fantastic Voyage is the original psychedelic inner-space adventure. When a brilliant scientist falls into a coma with an inoperable blood clot in the brain, a surgical team embarks on a top-secret journey to the center of the mind in a high-tech military submarine shrunk to microbial dimensions. Stephen Boyd stars as a colorless commander sent to keep an eye on things (though his eyes stay mostly on shapely medical assistant Raquel Welch), while Donald Pleasance is suitably twitchy as the claustrophobic medical consultant. The science is shaky at best, but the imaginative spectacle is marvelous: scuba-diving surgeons battle white blood cells, tap the lungs to replenish the oxygen supply, and shoot the aorta like daredevil surfers. The film took home a well-deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Director Richard Fleischer, who turned Disney's 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea into one of the most riveting submarine adventures of all time, creates a picture so taut with cold-war tensions and cloak-and-dagger secrecy that niggling scientific contradictions (such as, how do miniaturized humans breathe full-sized air molecules?) seem moot. --Sean Axmaker


The Thing from Another World

Review Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea
The War of The Worlds

Review Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea gets a dose of On the Beach in Irwin Allen's visually impressive but scientifically silly Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. While the Seaview, the world's most advanced experimental submarine, maneuvers under the North Pole, the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, giving the concept "global warming" an entirely new dimension. As the Earth broils in temperatures approaching 170 degrees F, Walter Pidgeon's maniacally driven Admiral Nelson hijacks the Seaview and plays tag with the world's combined naval forces on a race to the South Pacific, where he plans to extinguish the interstellar fire with a well-placed nuclear missile. But first he has to fight a mutinous crew, an alarmingly effective saboteur, not one but two giant squid attacks, and a host of design flaws that nearly cripple the mission (note to Nelson: think backup generators). Barbara Eden shimmies to Frankie Avalon's trumpet solos in the most formfitting naval uniform you've ever seen, fish-loving Peter Lorre plays in the shark tank, gloomy religious fanatic Michael Ansara preaches Armageddon, and Joan Fontaine looks very uncomfortable playing an armchair psychoanalyst. It's all pretty absurd, but Allen pumps it up with larger-than-life spectacle and lovely miniature work. --Sean Axmaker

Fantastic Voyage
2001: A Space Odyssey took the world on a mind-bending trip to outer space, but Fantastic Voyage is the original psychedelic inner-space adventure. When a brilliant scientist falls into a coma with an inoperable blood clot in the brain, a surgical team embarks on a top-secret journey to the center of the mind in a high-tech military submarine shrunk to microbial dimensions. Stephen Boyd stars as a colorless commander sent to keep an eye on things (though his eyes stay mostly on shapely medical assistant Raquel Welch), while Donald Pleasance is suitably twitchy as the claustrophobic medical consultant. The science is shaky at best, but the imaginative spectacle is marvelous: scuba-diving surgeons battle white blood cells, tap the lungs to replenish the oxygen supply, and shoot the aorta like daredevil surfers. The film took home a well-deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Director Richard Fleischer, who turned Disney's 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea into one of the most riveting submarine adventures of all time, creates a picture so taut with cold-war tensions and cloak-and-dagger secrecy that niggling scientific contradictions (such as, how do miniaturized humans breathe full-sized air molecules?) seem moot. --Sean Axmaker



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