Monday, August 9, 2010

1961- ATLANTIS, THE LOST CONTINENT George Pal's entertaining fantasy for adolescent boys.

The legendary science fiction/fantasy producer George Pal occasionally tried directing films as well.  This has to be one of his goofiest efforts, even more ridiculous than his final film Doc Savage The Man of Bronze

The writer of this opus  Daniel Mainwaring, had actually written good films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Phenix City Story and Out of the Past.

Here we go.  A princess from the lost continent of Atlantis which is stuck in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean washes up in Greece where she is rescued by a handsome Greek fisherman.  She persuades him to take her back to Atlantis where he is forced to become a slave.  He witnesses the superior technology and strange scientific experiments turning men in to half man half pigs that go on in Atlantis.  He faces off in mortal combat with a really big bulky guy in the test of  "Fire and Water" which is some kind of glorified barbecue pit that turns into a swimming pool.

The head guy of Atlantis wants to take over the world with some wacky crystal ray gun, the bad guy is played by John Dall who was one of the homosexual killers in Hitchock's Rope.  Speaking for the voice of reason in Atlantis is Edward Platt as the high priest.  Platt was the chief of Control on Get Smart, which is hard to get past when you watch him in this film.

George Pal was known for his special effects and for an early 60's film which involves miniatures they aren't that bad.  Pal was criticized for sticking a lot of stock footage into Atlantis The Lost Continent, and the scenes from Quo Vadis are pretty noticeable.  But really, who was going to give Pal a lot of money for what is really a juvenile fantasy film which in 1961 had a limited fan base, today it would be a different story.

For all the silliness involved in this film and there is a lot of silliness.  Atlantis The Lost Continent,  does have an entertaining narrative drive to it.  There is not a dull moment in the entire 90 minutes of the film.  George Pal knows his audience and knows what they want, lots of cool action, a giant ray gun and stuff blowing up. 

I have to believe all of the scenes and situations were carefully worked out to achieve the effect Pal was looking for, an entertaining fantasy film.

90 entertaining minutes.

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