KLAATU YOU (42)
October 14, 2020
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite pre-Star Wars science fiction movies.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA | d. RICHARD FLEISCHER | 1954
I couldn’t tell you who wrote or directed Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea if $100,000 was on the line in Final Jeopardy! but I don’t give a shit about that. The film made a huge impression on me as a kid when I saw it one summer at the Wilma Theater in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with my brother and my five cousins (in an early 1970s reissue, no doubt). We sat close and the movie did that thing that only movies watched in the cinema can do: it overpowered my senses. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had a bit of everything in it, including sharks, shipwrecks, harpoons — did I mention sharks? — and a huge rubbery squid and bloodthirsty savages, along with Kirk Douglas swimming and swaggering and shaking his ass (while he sang a tune, no less) in a true movie-star turn. It was the first film that I remember going to without my parents, and the feeling was beyond thrilling — buying the ticket, purchasing the concessions, watching the waterfall curtain rise, and being literally overcome by the shape and size of the images and the music and the visual effects. I didn’t even realize how great the supporting cast was or how much money the film returned at the box office; I just found myself feeling like I was actually there, underwater or on the beach or in the Nautilus itself. And Captain Nemo, with that velvety voice and his graying beard and his turtleneck (I mean, it was James Mason, for God’s sake), was a new kind of character for my young, unformed moviegoing mind: Was he the hero or the villain? I wanted to like him but he kept doing questionable things… only years later did I realize he was a Technicolor cut-out of the idea of an antihero that would soon flood screens both large and small for decades to come. The film was made in 1954 and was well ahead of its time in terms of art direction and special effects (it won Oscars for both), along with it being a prime example of compact storytelling and good old-fashioned escapism, 1950s style. More important than the rest, however, is the simple fact that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was just a great afternoon at the pictures, one that I’ve never forgotten to this day. Even now, whenever I stumble upon it on TCM or some other tv channel, I watch it in its entirety. It’s that good — or, at least, it means that much to me.
PS: Just for the record, the film was directed by Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green, Fantastic Voyage, Conan the Destroyer), and adapted from the Jules Verne novel by Earl Felton.
KLAATU YOU: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Matthew De Abaitua on ZARDOZ | Miranda Mellis on METROPOLIS | Rob Wringham on THE INVISIBLE MAN | Michael Grasso on THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN | Gordon Dahlquist on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | Erik Davis on DARK STAR | Carlo Rotella on THE OMEGA MAN | Madeline Ashby on KISS ME DEADLY | Adam McGovern on SILENT RUNNING | Michael Lewy on THIS ISLAND EARTH | Josh Glenn on WILD IN THE STREETS | Mimi Lipson on BARBARELLA vs. SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | Vanessa Berry on THE FLY | Lynn Peril on ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN | Peggy Nelson on SOLARIS | Adrienne Crew on LOGAN’S RUN | Ramona Lyons on THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH | Kio Stark on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Dan Fox on FANTASTIC PLANET | Chris Lanier on IKARIE XB-1 | Devin McKinney on IDAHO TRANSFER | Mark Kingwell on THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO | Luc Sante on THE TENTH VICTIM | William Nericcio on DEATH RACE 2000 | Rob Walker on CAPRICORN ONE | Gary Panter on ANGRY RED PLANET | David Levine on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Karinne Keithley Syers on ALPHAVILLE | Carolyn Kellogg on IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE | Sara Ryan on ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN | Lisa Jane Persky on PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE | Adam Harrison Levy on BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES | Gerald Peary on CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON | Susannah Breslin on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE | Seth on WAR OF THE WORLDS | James Hannaham on GOJIRA/GODZILLA | Lydia Millet on VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED | Matthew Daniel on FANTASTIC VOYAGE | Shawn Wolfe on ROLLERBALL | Erin M. Routson on WESTWORLD | Marc Weidenbaum on COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT | Neil LaBute on 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA | Vicente Lozano on DAY OF THE DOLPHIN | Tom Roston on SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE | Katya Apekina on A BOY AND HIS DOG | Chelsey Johnson on THE BLOB | Heather Kapplow on SPACE IS THE PLACE | Brian Berger on THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS | Anthony Miller on THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
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