Movie Review – ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ (1959)

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

Well, after checking out ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ with David Tennant on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, it makes sense that I check out another adaptation based on one of Jules Verne’s works of literature. I’ve now seen the 1959 film adaptation of ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ on Disney+.

‘Journey to the Center (or ‘Centre’ as it is in the UK) of the Earth’ has been adapted many times into film, TV and radio. I’ve seen a 2008 film adaptation starring Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson. I had no idea a sequel to the 2008 film starring Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson had been made.

The 1959 film adaptation by 20th Century Fox is clearly one of the earliest film adaptations of the Jules Verne story and possibly closer to the book compared to other film adaptations (though I could be wrong). Directed by Henry Levin, the film features James Mason, Pat Boone and Arlene Dahl.

James Mason is no stranger to Jules Verne, as he starred in the 1954 film ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ by Disney. I’ve also seen him in the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘North By Northwest’ and he was in the 1954 film ‘A Star is Born’ with Judy Garland. He’s also been in the ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ miniseries.

I greatly enjoyed 1959’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. I found I enjoyed it more than 1954’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. This is probably due to the fact I found the journey deep down to the centre of the Earth intense, especially when our heroes were facing great dangers along the way.

The film’s story has James Mason playing an Edinburgh professor named Sir Oliver Lindenbrook, who seeks to follow an explorer’s trail down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s centre. He’s joined by friends and colleagues in order to achieve this journey, but how far is the professor willing to go?

Joining James Mason in the film is Pat Boone as Alec McEwan, Professor Lindenbrook’s admiring student. Apparently, according to my parents, Pat Boone is a strong Christian in real-life. I don’t know much about Pat Boone, but that’s interesting to know. I enjoyed his performance in this film. 🙂

Arlene Dahl stars as Carla Göteborg, the wife and eventual widow of Ivan Triesault as Professor Göteborg, who gets killed off early on in the film. I didn’t think that Lindenbrook and Carla would end up together in a romantic sense by the film’s end, though I should’ve guessed that would occur.

The film also features Diane Baker as Jenny, Lindenbrook’s niece, whom Alec McEwan falls in love with. Lindenbrook doesn’t bring Jenny along for the expedition and she ends up not doing much whilst Carla is the one who has the spotlight. Mind you, Lindenbrook had his narrow view of women.

There’s Peter Ronson as Hans Bjelke, a strong Icelandic man who helps Lindenbrook, Alec and Carla out on their journey to the centre of the Earth. Hans has a pet duck called Gertrude who accompanies them. It was a shock when Gertrude got killed off in a very horrible manner in the film.

Thayer David stars as Count Saknussemm, the film’s villain. It got tense when it was revealed he murdered Carla’s wife and attempted to bump off Lindenbrook and Alec, as he wanted to claim the glory of Lindenbrook’s expedition. It was horrific when Saknussemm killed and ate Gertude the duck.

The rest of the film’s cast include Bob Adler as Groom, Alex Finlayson as Professor Boyle, and Alan Napier (who played Alfred in the ‘Batman’ 1960s TV series with Adam West) as Dean. It was a nice surprise to see Alan Napier in the film, though he looks different compared to how he is in ‘Batman’.

1959’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ has been an enjoyable film to sit through. I enjoyed James Mason and Pat Boone in this film adaptation of one of Jules Vernes’ well-known works. The film is compelling, especially when our heroes reached the centre of the Earth and how they escaped.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂


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