20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Release Date: December 23, 1954
Director: Richard Fleisher
Screenplay: Earl Felton
Music: Paul Smith
Cinematopgraphy: Franz Planer
Editor: Elmo Williams
Starring: Kirk Douglas as Ned Lane
James Mason as Captain Nemo
Paul Lucas as Professor Pierre Aronnax
Peter Lorre as Conseil
Distributor: Buena Vista
Producer: Walt Disney Studio
Time: color (Technicolor) 127 min.
Budget: $4.3 million (est.); $9 million in print & advertising
Gross: $11,267,000

Purchase 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (DVD) at the TCM store.

Interesting Tidbits

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea has the distinction of being the only science fiction filem produced by Walt Disney himself and the very first sci-fic movie produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It was filmd in different locations in Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Some of the filming sequences were so complicated that they required a technical crew of more than 400 people; the production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was so enormous that two other studios had to be used. Exterior sets from Universal International were utilized as well as 20th Century Fox's large external tank for large models of the Nautilus.

This was James Mason's first appearance in a science fiction movie. He was to appear in another sci-fi film in 1959 - Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The Plot

In the year 1866, rumors of a sea monster attacking ships in the Pacific Ocean have created apprehension and fear among sailors, disrupting the shipping lanes. Prof. Pierre M. Aronnax and his assistant, Conseil, are on their way to Saigon but get stuck in San Francisco by the halting of ships. The U.S. government invites Aronnax onto an expedition to either prove or disprove the monster's existence. One of their fellow crew is the cocky master harpooner Ned Land.

After months of fruitless searching, the monster is spotted one night. It immediately charges, and the ship's crew are only able to fire cannons at the monster a few times before impact. Ned and Aronnax are thrown overboard, and Conseil goes in after Aronnax. The warship, burning and helpless, drifts silently and no one on board answers when the overboard passengers cry for help. The three drift in the ocean, eventually finding a strange-looking metal vessel, and realize the "monster" is a man-made "submerging boat", that seems to have been deserted. Inside, Aronnax wanders down into the Salon, where he finds a massive viewing window and sees an underwater funeral taking place, presumably for a man on the submerging boat who was killed by the expeditionary ship's guns.
More from Wikipedia...