Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Voyage to the bottom of the sea on film and TV

Released in 1961, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was producer/director Irwin Allen's 10th feature. Inspired by Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a $2 million documentary style science fiction epic that told a topical tale of global warming and how the Seaview submarine saved the world from a fearsome and fiery finale. It starred veteran actor Walter Pidgeon as Admiral Harriman Nelson, with Robert Sterling as Captain Lee Crane. The supporting cast included, Barbara (I Dream Of Jeannie) Eden, Peter Lorre and of course the mighty ice busting Seaview nuclear submarine.

Whilst Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea may have received mixed reviews from critics on its release, it was by no means a washout. It was a popular attraction with the cinema going public and brought in $7 million in box office revenue. Buoyed by the success of the movie, Allen was prompted to make a spin-off TV series which re-cast Richard Basehart as Nelson and former-Fly, David Hedison as Lee Crane.

Running from 1964 to 1968 and way beyond in syndication, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the decade's longest-running American science fiction television series with continuing characters. Alas not all 110 episodes were of a consistent quality. Once the writers exhausted conventional undersea adventure scenarios, a more broader base of plots emerged that got sillier and sillier as budgets and standards sank.

The swirling epic music for the movie version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was provided by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter. To appeal to "the kids" Teen hearthrob Frankie Avalon was called in to croon the title track. Sawtell was brought in later to supply a new theme for the TV version of Voyage to The Bottom Of The Sea - one that brings back fond memories of poor old be-quiffed Kowalski turning into a wolfman or the Seaview in the grip of a giant lobster!

Irwin Allen later went on to create and develop many great TV science fiction series including Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Land of The Giants. He also single handedly created the disaster movie with The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent choice.
I was a faithful watcher as a kid. I hated the puppet episodes. I thought they were so stupid. We had the model of the Seaview and the Flying Sub.
Great stuff for us kids. Thanks Vince