The Incredible Petrified World (1957)- This movie gets slammed by critics all the time. I actually think it's pretty good. It's definitely one of the better films to come from producer Jerry Warren, who has been noted of making some of the cheapest, schlockiest movies of the 1950s and 60s. It is what it is. This is a short little adventure film, 68 minutes, that gives a good story and some pretty good acting. It isn't science-fiction, but it's commonly labeled as such on the video market. Even upon its original theater release, this movie was advertised as science-fiction, but it's really just a regular adventure movie. This was the second film to be produced by Jerry Warren. Although made in 1957, "The Incredible Petrified World" wasn't released in theaters until April 16, 1960. Even then, it was presented as part of a double feature with another Warren film, "Teenage Zombies" (1959).
Phyllis Coates was the reason I watched this movie. I loved her as Lois Lane in TVs "The Adventures of Superman", and as the title character in the movie serial "Panther Girl of the Kongo" (1955). She's good in a lot of shows. In this movie, her character is a pain in the butt. She still gives a good performance, but it isn't a very likable character. Believe it or not, I actually liked the film's other woman better. Coates' rival in the film was Lauri Talbott, played by Sheila Noonan. Talbott was a bit more sensible and likable than Coates' Dale Marshall. Marshall, like Lois Lane, is an impetuous girl reporter.
As the story
goes, Coates accepted the role of Dale Marshall as a favor to Jerry
Warren, who was a past boyfriend. The actress originally cast for
that part couldn't do it and Warren couldn't find anyone else to do it
in time. Coates wasn't thrilled about it, but Warren convinced
her, saying that it wouldn't be shown in California. After the
fact, Coates found out that it was, indeed, shown in California.
Not only that, but at least one executive at Columbia Pictures saw the
movie and thought it was so bad that the company wasn't going to hire
her again. On top of all this, Warren never paid her for her
work. Whether all of this, or any of this, is true, I can't
positively confirm it. This is, however, the rumor.
"The Incredible Petrified World" is not terrible. The camerawork
is pretty good. The cinematography is pretty neat. There's
some really great underwater footage with sea creatures and
divers. I thought the real fight between the shark and the
octopus was way cool. In an interview, Robert Clarke said that a
well-known Hollywood cameraman used the pseudonym "Victor Fisher" so he
wouldn't get in trouble with the union for taking a non-union
job. If you really look at the movie, you'll see that all the
camerawork, including the underwater sequences, are done very
The acting in this movie is probably what makes it hold up as well as it does. John Carradine has a great part as Professor Millard Wyman, the obsessed scientist/inventor who desperately tries to find his divers. I thought Robert Clarke as Craig Randall was a likable leader of the four divers. Sheila Noonan gave a credible performance as Lauri Talbott, one of Carradine's assistants. Although he really didn't do much, Allen Windsor as Paul Whitmore was pretty good as the other "scientist" diver. Coates was good as Dale Marshall, the "pain in the butt" of the crew; every survival-type movie has at least one such character in the cast. I didn't find anyone in the cast to be a bad actor, although some actors were definitely better than others.
I was also
surprised by the writing, which seems a bit more "together" than in
most of Jerry Warren's movies. The story actually tries to
explain everything, and does a decent job. The mystery of the old
man in the caverns wasn't fully detailed, but it didn't have to
be. He somehow arrived there 14 years earlier after a
shipwreck. The old man killed his shipmate almost immediately
after arriving in the caverns. We know the old man was probably
crazy long before the shipwreck. Perhaps he caused the
shipwreck? Who knows? It doesn't really matter. All
that matters is he's there, and someone our four heroes have to contend
with. Later in the movie, we discover he's a letch who has
designs on Dale Marshall, and wants to kill the others. The old
man even wants to kill Dale when she spurns him. He ultimately
dies in a cave-in.
The plot of
the movie is this: Professor Wyman sends four divers down in his
diving bell invention to explore the ocean at depths never before
attempted. The diving bell malfunctions, and the divers land on
an ocean shelf. From there, they enter a series of air-filled sea
caverns. The team doesn't know how deep they are, or exactly where they are. Inside these
caverns there is plenty of air, fresh water, even fish. It's
possible they could live here forever, and they might just have
to. If this wasn't enough, our four explorers meet an old man who
has lived in these caverns for fourteen years! There is something
about this man that just doesn't seem right and everyone is a little on
edge. Meanwhile Professor Wyman, greatly disappointed with his
own failure, tries desperately to at least locate his divers, and
hopefully save all of them.
that this movie is only 68 minutes, because that's about all it should
be. If this was a longer movie, it would need more neat stuff
like special effects, greater character definition, so on. But
this is a short little show that does well with time and technology
constraints. I'd love to see this movie redone today as a
two-hour feature with all kinds of special effects, stunts, plot
twists; there's a lot that could be done with this story idea.
John Carradine as Professor
Robert Clarke as Craig Randall
Phyllis Coates as Dale Marshall
Sheila Noonan as Lauri Talbott
Allen Windsor as Paul Whitmore
Maurice Bernard as Old Man in the Caverns
Jerry Warren as Plane Passenger Behind Wyman [uncredited]
Director- Jerry Warren
Writer- John W. Steiner
if the lost city of Atlantis was NOT at the bottom of the ocean,
but hidden under the sands of the Sahara Desert in North Africa?
Two French Foreign Legionnaires stumble upon the entrance to Atlantis,
only to run afoul of the beautiful, but evil Queen Antinea. One
man lives to tell the tale on a radio show two years later.
Although a bit boring and hard
to follow due to crude filming techniques of the time, this is a story
that could be told by Hollywood nowadays. I'd love to see this
movie remade with better filming, better sound, and special effects.
What's interesting about this
movie is that there were three different versions made: French, German,
and English. Brigitte Helm starred in all three versions, but
many of the actors were recast from version to version. For
instance, the hero of the story, Lt. Saint-Avit, was played by a
different actor in each version. This film was shot largely in
the Sahara Desert and cost a fortune to make. For the time, it
was very expensive...and expansive! It's a pity, then, that this
movie is marred deeply by too dark of filming, poor sound quality, and
choppy scenes due to reediting of the three versions. Other
reviewers note the fact that a lot of questions seem to be left
unanswered at the end of this film, and that it seems as if some things
were "lost in translation". Still, this movie came together
fairly well for such a large undertaking.
Brigitte Helm as Queen Antinea
John Stuart as Lt. Saint-Avit [English version]
Pierre Blanchar as Lt. Saint-Avit [French version]
Heinz Klingenberg as Lt. Saint-Avit [German version]
Gustav Diessl as Capt. Morange
Jean Angelo as Capt. Morange [French version]
Gibb McLaughlin as Count Velovsky
Vladimir Sokoloff as L'hetman de Jitomir [French version of the Count Velovsky character]
Vladimir Sokoloff as Graf Bielowski [German version of the Count Velovsky character]
Mathias Wieman as Ivar Torstenson [character called Ewar Torstenson in German version; credited as Mathias Wiemann in US]
Odelle Florelle as Clementine, the dancer [credited as Florelle]
Tela Tchai as Tanid, the serving girl [character called Tanit Zerga in French version; credited as Tela Tschai]
Georges Tourreil as Lt. Ferrieres
Gertrude Pabst as American Journalist
Rositta Severus-Liedernit as ?
Martha von Konssatzki as ?
Director- Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Writers- Alexandre Arnoux [adaptation from novel to German film version], Hermann Oberlander, Ladislaus Vajda, Jacques Deval [dialogue], Miles Mander [dialogue].
Music- Wolfgang Zeller
Omoo-Oomo, the Shark God (1949)- This is an enjoyable adventure movie set in Tahiti. It is based on the novel by Herman Melville, most famous for "Moby Dick". The year is 1874. Dr. Godfrey Long (George Meeker) narrates this suspenseful tale about the curse of a shark god that follows a group of people who have violated a sacred jungle idol. Jeff Garland the sailor (Ron Randell) is the hero. First Mate Richards (Richard Benedict) is the villain and a guy named Texas (Jack Raymond) is Richards' sidekick. Captain Roger Guy (Trevor Bardette) steals two big, black pearls that act like eyes of the Shark God idol. However, the pearls are cursed and the Captain lays deathly ill. Julie Guy (Devera Burton) inherits the sickness and a lust for the pearls. Meanwhile, Jeff Garland must battle the evil Richards and save his love Julie from a terrible fate.
Ron Randell as Jeff Garland
Devera Burton as Julie Guy
Trevor Bardette as Captain Roger Guy
Richard Benedict as First Mate Richards
George Meeker as Dr. Godfrey Long
Jack Raymond as Texas [uncredited]
Pedro de Cordoba as Chief Tari
Michael Whalen as Chips
Rudy Robles as Tembo
Lisa Kincaid as Tala
Director- Leon Leonard
Writers- George Green, Leon Leonard, Herman Melville [novel].