By Edwin Jahiel
MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. (GB, 1961) Directed by Cy Endfield ("Zulu") . Based on novel by the visionary Jules Verne, the father of sci-fi fantasy. During the Civil War, Dixie officers escape their prison by balloon, are stranded on a most peculiar volcanic island, are joined by shipwrecked British ladies and an American reporter. They encounter monstrously overgrown animals, (crabs, bees, birds and shellfish) and odd configurations. They find the disabled , ornate submarine Nautilus thought to have perished years ago , its Captain, Nemo --well-played by Herbert Lom and last seen as James Mason in the 1954 picture " 20.OOO Leagues Under the Sea" . They fight off pirates (whose ship is an antique galleon in contrast to the electric , high-tech Nautilus), explore the sea with Nemo's diving suits that use huge conches (sic) , defend themselves with an electric ray gun, see what perhaps is the sunken city of Atlantis. Campy, silly, well-made, well-paced, the film is enjoyable by adults as well as youngsters. It is one of the best movies in its category. Special effects hold up nicely.
They are by Ray Harryhausen, who received a special Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1992. Bernard Herrmann contributed an excellent, idiosyncratic music score. (Edwin Jahiel)