Release Date: August 24, 1966
Starring: Stephen Boyd as Grant
Raquel Welch as Cora
Edmond O'Brien as General Carter
Donald Pleasense as Dr. Michaels
Music: Leonard Rosenman
Director: Richard Fleischer
Producer: Saul David
Writers: Jerome Bixby, Otto Klement
Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Time: Color by Deluxe 100 Mins. (WS)
Purchase Fantastic Voyage (DVD) at the TCM store.
The United States and the Soviet Union have both developed technology that allowed matter to be miniaturized using a process that shrinks individual atoms, but its value is limited. Objects only stay miniaturized for a limited amount of time depending on how much miniaturization the object undergoes.
Scientist Jan Benes, working behind the Iron Curtain, has figured out how to make the shrinking process work indefinitely. With the help of the CIA, he escapes to the West, but an attempted assassination leaves him comatose, with a blood clot in his brain.
To save his life, Charles Grant (the agent who extracted him, played by Stephen Boyd), pilot Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield), Dr. Michaels (who is later revealed to have a fear of small spaces, played by Donald Pleasence), surgeon Dr. Peter Duval (Arthur Kennedy) and his assistant Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch) board a specially designed nuclear submarine, the Proteus, which is then miniaturized and injected into Benes. The ship is reduced to one micrometer in length, giving the team only one hour to repair the clot; after that, the submarine will begin to revert to its normal size and become large enough for Benes' immune system to detect and attack.
The crew faces many obstacles on their journey. An arteriovenous fistula forces them to detour through the heart (a temporary cardiac arrest must be induced to avoid destructive turbulence), through the inner ear (all in the lab must remain quiet to prevent similar turbulence) and replenish their supply of oxygen in the alveoli of the lungs. When the surgical laser needed to destroy the clot is damaged, it becomes obvious there is a saboteur on the mission. They cannibalize their radio to repair the laser. When they finally reach the brain clot, there are only six minutes remaining to operate and then exit the body.
The traitor, Dr. Michaels, knocks Owens out and takes control of the Proteus while the rest of the crew is outside for the operation. Duval successfully removes the clot with the laser, but Michaels tries to crash the sub into the clot area to kill Benes. Grant fires the laser at the ship, causing it to veer away and crash. Michaels is trapped in the wreckage and killed when a white blood cell attacks and destroys the Proteus. Grant saves Owens from the ship, and they all swim desperately to one of the eyes, where they escape via a teardrop seconds before they return to normal size.