THE VIRGINIAN: HIGH STAKES (1966, USA) ***
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. Thomas Carr; w. Mark Rodgers, True Boardman (based on a story by Mark Rodgers); exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Winston Miller; ph. Enzo A. Martinelli (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. John Elias; ad. George Patrick; set d. Claire P. Brown, John McCarthy Jr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Edwin J. Somers Jr. (Mono); tr. 16 November 1966; r/t. 77m.
cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Jack Lord (Roy Dallman), Michael Ansara (Paul Dallman), Terry Moore (Alma Wilson), Dirk Rambo (Wesley Hedges), Harry Hickox (Charley Kane), Mark Tapscott (Sheriff Adams), William Fawcett (Hostler), Jon Locke (Red Rennick), Walter Reed (Caleb), Robert Carson (Elias Duke), William Vaughn (Ben).
(s. 5 ep. 10) When a friend (Rambo) of The Virginian (Drury) is killed and the posse won’t follow the killer out of the county, The Virginian goes alone. He tracks the killer (Lord) and a woman (Moore) involved to a remote outlaw controlled town but can he get them back to the law? The slow-paced episode is notable for the appearances of Lord and Ansara as outlaw brothers. Unfortunately, the script does not make the most of their talent and the set-up and denouement are disappointing. Drury is at his laconic best and Moore gives a sympathetic performance as escaped prisoner Ansara’s ex-wife.
VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (USA, 1961) ***
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox; Production Company: Irwin Allen Productions (as Windsor Productions); Release Date: 12 July 1961; Filming Dates: 25 January 1961 – April 1961; Running Time: 105m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: U.
Director: Irwin Allen; Writer: Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett (based on a story by Irwin Allen); Producer: Irwin Allen; Director of Photography: Winton C. Hoch; Music Composer: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter; Film Editor: George Boemler; Production Designer: ; Art Director: Herman A. Blumenthal, Jack Martin Smith; Set Decorator: Walter M. Scott, John Sturtevant; Costumes: Paul Zastupnevich; Make-up: Ben Nye; Sound: Alfred Bruzlin, Warren B. Delaplain; Special Effects: Johnny Borgese (uncredited); Visual Effects: L.B. Abbott.
Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Adm. Harriman Nelson), Joan Fontaine (Dr. Susan Hiller), Barbara Eden (Lt Cathy Connors), Peter Lorre (Comm. Lucius Emery), Robert Sterling (Capt. Lee Crane), Michael Ansara (Miguel Alvarez), Frankie Avalon (Lt (j.g.) Danny Romano), Regis Toomey (Dr. Jamieson), John Litel (Vice-Adm. B.J. Crawford), Howard McNear (Congressman Llewellyn Parker), Henry Daniell (Dr. Zucco), Skip Ward (Crew member), Mark Slade (Seaman Jimmy ‘Red’ Smith), Charles Tannen (CPO Gleason), Del Monroe (Seaman Kowski), Anthony Monaco (Cookie), Michael Ford (Crew member), Robert Easton (Sparks), Jonathan Gilmore (Seaman George Young).
Synopsis: An Admiral takes a brand new atomic submarine through its paces. When the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, the admiral must find a way to beat the heat or watch the world go up in smoke.
Comment: Enjoyable bit of nonsense which became one of its producer’s most successful ventures. Pidgeon is a few levels above the material and his dignified performance keeps you believing in the fantastical events that are unfolding. The topic of global catastrophe triggered by man’s ability to pollute the planet has gained in significance over the years with the debates on global warming. As such much of this tale will resonate with modern audiences. The script, however, lacks sufficient depth to make the most of these potential messages. There is kids adventure stuff too with one of the underwater sequences involving struggles with a giant octopus. The film was successful enough for Allen to transition it toTV.
Notes: Song: “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” music and lyrics by Russell Faith. Followed by a TV series (1964-8). This story was remade as an episode of the TV series “The Sky’s on Fire” (season 2, episode 18) broadcast on 23 January 1966.