“In presence of nature’s grand convulsions man is powerless.”
Our story starts during the Civil War in Virginia. Three union POWs Captain Cyrus Harding (Michael Craig), Herbert Brown (Michael Callan), Corporal Neb Nugent (Dan Jackson), and a journalist Gideon Spilitt (Gary Merrill), escape with a confederate soldier Sargent Pencroft (Percy Herbert) in an observation balloon during a raging storm. Tossed about for days they end up in the Pacific on a deserted island. They agree to put aside their differences in order to survive. They agree that if they get rescued, by whichever side, they would each go their own way.
One day they see a small boat on the beach. Lady Mary Fairchild (Joan Greenwood) and her niece Elena Fairchild (Beth Rogan) are washed ashore after their ship is attacked by pirates. Together they work to survive amid giant creatures that are just as eager to survive. And something mysterious is aiding the castaways from afar.
"Mysterious Island" was released in 1961 and was directed by Cy Endfield. Every once in awhile we all need a trip to a fantasy island. If you go watch out for giant Phorusrhacos and giant crabs. Between the minds of Jules Verne and Ray Harryhausen and the musical score of Bernard Herrmann the trip is well worthwhile.
Purists may have a problem with the movie since the book doesn’t have any giant creatures or stranded women. But for those of us who are wide eyed fantasy lovers the addition of giant monsters just tickles our fancy. The action is non-stop. The story well done and the acting wonderful. The cinematography pulls you into the movie as do the special effects.
The giant crab was an actual crab that was cleaned out and the shell was used as the stop motion creature. The phorusrhacos bird was an actual giant flightless bird that existed during the Miocene age. Oh, and yes, there is a naked guy who pops out from behind a rock. He is on the left as the guys are climbing up the side of the volcano. From the quick shot he looks as if he is washing his hair. He’s only there for a few seconds so he’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for him. Besides that little fun fact the movie is a wondrous expose of childhood fantasy. Whether you’re engrossed in giant creatures or squinting for naked people it’s a wonderful story. And a great movie.