Rating: PG
Length: 132 mins
James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl


An Edinburgh professor and assorted colleagues follow an explorer’s trail down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the earth’s center.

This 1959 Cinemascope adventure film was adapted by Charles Brackett from the novel of the same name by Jules Verne. It was directed by Henry Levin and stars James Mason, Pat Boone and Arlene Dahl.

The script was written by Walter Reisch.

” I had written a lot of science fiction for magazines, and Charles Brackett knew about that. They also knew that I had written magazine articles on Jules Verne. I had studied Jules Verne, and always wanted to write his biography, but I never got around to doing it. When they bought the Jules Verne novel from his estate and assigned me, I was delighted. The master’s work, though a beautiful basic idea, went in a thousand directions and never achieved a real constructive “roundness.” With the exception of the basic idea, there is very little of the novel left in the film. I invented a lot of new characters—the Pat Boone part, the part of the professor’s wife played by Arlene Dahl, the [part of the] villain—and the fact that it all played in Scotland.” WALTER REISCH (SCREENPLAY)

Pat Boone was the first star announced. The role of the professor was meant to be played by Clifton Webb but just before shooting began he had to undergo major surgery.
Webb was replaced at the last minute by James Mason, who had previously appeared in an 1954 adaptation of a Jules Verne work, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.

Some of the underground sequences were filmed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Other shooting locations included Amboy Crater and Sequit Point, California, as well as Edinburgh, Scotland. Principal photography took place from late June to mid-September 1959

The giant Dimetrodons depicted at the center of the Earth action sequence were actually rhinoceros iguanas with large, glued-on make-up appliances added to their backs. The giant chameleon seen later in the ruins of Atlantis scene was actually a painted Tegu lizard.

At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 83% of critics gave the film a positive review, with the general consensus being that it is “a silly but fun movie with everything you’d want from a sci-fi blockbuster – heroic characters, menacing villains, monsters, big sets and special effects.”[

The film was nominated for three Oscars: Special Effects, Art/Set Direction and Sound all of which it lost to BEN-HUR.

Not the least of the film’s pluses was one of BERNARD HERRMANN’S best fantasy film scores.
“I decided to evoke the mood and feeling of inner Earth by using only instruments played in low registers. Eliminating all strings, I utilized an orchestra of woodwinds and brass, with a large percussion section and many harps. But the truly unique feature of this score is the inclusion of five organs, one large cathedral and four electronic. These organs were used in many adroit ways to suggest ascent and descent [most spectacularly in the altar stone ascent], as well as the mystery of Atlantis.”

“Effortlessly entertaining old school Hollywood film making” eFilmCriticCOM.
“It’s one of those “fun” movies, once called “general audience entertainment,” that they don’t make any more, a rip-roarin’ CinemaScope fantasy-adventure” CLASSIC FILM FREAK.

Official Trailer