Dr. Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) is a scientist that has defected to the West. He is brought in on a plane guarded by agent Charles Grant (Stephen Boyd). Boyd releases his charge to other agents on the ground that whisk him away in a limo. The limo is T-boned and the assassination attempt has left Benes comatose with a blood clot on his brain. The procedure is inoperable. At least from the outside.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union have developed the ability to shrink matter by shrinking the individual atoms that make up matter. Any matter. Unfortunately the technology only works for a limited time depending on how small the matter is. If you want to shrink something down to the microbial level the procedure will only last an hour. Both the US and the Soviet Union have the same problem.

This is where Dr. Benes comes in. He has developed a way to make the process last indefinitely. Benes wanted the US to have the secret so the Soviets decided that if they couldn’t have it, nobody could. With Dr. Benes in a coma, the information is locked in his brain. To save the doctor’s life a radical decision is made. Miniaturize someone and remove the clot from the inside.

The Soviet Union knows they failed in their assassination attempt. The United States believes they will try a surgical assassination attempt. Grant is called in to act as security. The surgical team will consist of Dr. Duval (Arthur Kennedy), his assistant Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch) and Dr. Michaels (Donald Pleasence). The method of surgery will be to shrink an atomic submarine, the “Proteus”, with the doctors and crew inside to the microscopic level and inject them into Dr. Benes. The submarine will then make its way, via a specified route to the brain clot. The team will then cut away the clot using a laser gun.

The pilot of the Proteus will be Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield).The crew have only one hour to complete their mission. Whether they have completed their objective or not, at the end of that time the submarine and the crew will begin to grow. They must be removed from Dr. Bene's body for once they start to grow the body’s own defense system will send antibodies to attack the ship and crew as if they were a bacteria or virus and kill them.

One fly in the ointment is that security believes one of the crew may attempt to assassinate the doctor internally. Dr. Duval is the logical suspect, but everyone needs to be watched. It’s Grant’s job find out who and stop them.

“Fantastic Voyage” was released in 1966 and was directed by Richard Fleischer. As strange and magical as any distant planet the inner space of the human body is just as fascinating as outer space. Part of the fun of science fiction is imagining what this new territory would look like eyelevel. What Scott Carey tried to describe in “The Incredible Shrinking Man” 1957 is visualized in a psychedelic cacophony of images and colors in “Fantastic Voyage”. This is why color film was invented.

Isaac Asimov did the novelization of the script. According to him there were quite a few plot holes. He was permitted to write the novel as he saw fit. Because he wrote faster than the movie was made, the novelization came out before the movie did. One of his main concerns was the biological accuracy of the Proteus being left in Dr. Benes’ body as well as the solution the Proteus was suspended in before the solution was miniaturized and injected into Benes. I thought that the white blood cells would have ingested the ship. Asimov argues that the ship would still enlarge in Benes killing him. OK. Asimov is more of an expert in these things so who am I to argue. His point that the solution the ship was suspended in was also miniaturized and would expand is relevant. They did miniaturize a big ass syringe full of liquid and it makes sense that it would expand to big ass size after an hour. Asimov’s novelization accounts for that and the ship both.

Revolutionary and imaginative in the sixties it’s gotten some criticism for being dated. I find that a little ridiculous. What some people call dated I call classic. Even if it’s missing some accuracy it’s still a highly enjoyable fantasy.

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