Jules Verne’s classic 1864 lost world novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth was finally made into a movie in 1959.
The movie was made by 20th Century Fox after the success of two other Jules Verne’s novels. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). James Mason stars as Professor Lindenbrook.
Professor Lindenbrook receives a mysterious rock by one of his students Alec McEwan (Pat Boone). Inside the rock Lindenbrook discovers a hidden message from a scientist named Arne Saknussemm who discovered a way to the centre of the Earth by way of the Snæfellsjökull, a volcano in Iceland.
Another colleague of Lindenbrook, Professor Göteborg (Ivan Triesault), tries to find a way there first but is murdered. Lindenbrook, Alec, Carla Göteborg (Arlene Dahl), the widow of the late colleague, Hans Bjelke (Pétur Ronson) and his pet duck Gertrud all begin their journey trying to beat the evil Count Saknussemm (Thayer David) who murdered Göteborg. Along the way they encounter strange creatures and many dangers.
This is a pretty enjoyable adaptation. Not exactly like Verne’s novel but closer than the crappy 2008 version. Instead of stop motion or puppets for the monsters, the filmmakers used real rhinoceros iguanas with glued on fins. It’s not very convincing. I think I prefer the stop motion technique.
The movie was a big success and Filmation made a short lived cartoon series in 1967 loosely based off of the film. Gertrud the duck even managed to get in it.