Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 1959 adventure film adapted by Charles Brackett from the novel by Jules Verne. It stars Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Peter Ronson, Diane Baker, Thayer David, Alan Napier, and Gertrude the Duck. It was directed by Henry Levin.
This film is also known as Trip to the Center of the Earth.
An Edinburgh professor is intrigued by a strange rock given to him by one of his pupils. Uncovering its secret leads him and a few other hardy individuals to a dangerous journey that may have no return.
The film is notable for its special effects. It was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Lyle R. Wheeler, Franz Bachelin, Herman A. Blumenthal, Walter M. Scott, Joseph Kish), Best Effects, Special Effects and Best Sound. It won a second place Golden Laurel award for Top Action Drama in 1960.
Novel “Voyage au centre de la Terre”
Walter Reisch and
Pat Boone … Alexander ‘Alec’ McKuen
James Mason … Sir Oliver S. Lindenbrook
Arlene Dahl … Carla Göteborg
Diane Baker … Jenny Lindenbrook
Thayer David … Count Saknussem
Peter Ronson … Hans Belker
Robert Adler … Groom
Alan Napier … Dean
Make Up Department
Ben Nye … makeup artist
Helen Turpin … hair stylist
Visual Effects Department
L.B. Abbott … special photographic effects
James B. Gordon … special photographic effects
Emil Kosa Jr. … special photographic effects
Fox gave the green light to this big-budget CinemaScope production partially on the basis of the success of the recent Jules Verne adaptations, Walt Disney’s 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and Michael Todd’s Around the World in Eighty Days. As with those earlier films, the heavy cost proved to be a good investment, resulting in a big hit at the box office.
James Mason replaced an ailing Clifton Webb in the part of Professor Lindenbrook before filming began. Alexander Scourby started shooting at Carlsbad Caverns in the Count Saknussem role, but the producers were unhappy with him and he was replaced with Thayer David.
James Mason reportedly had very little patience with the “movie star” preening of Arlene Dahl and the relationship between the two off set was very much like what you see on screen.
Pat Boone didn’t want to make this film but was talked into it by his agent. Years later he stated he’s glad he did it because of the regular residual checks it brings in and because it’s the movie he’ll probably be best remembered for.
The professor’s name in the original novel (French language) was Otto Lidenbrock, a German. In the movie it was changed to Oliver Lindenbrook, a Scotchman. The name of his assistant Axel was Caledonized into Alec. (This was done because of historical hindsight, as 19th-century Scots had become known as the best field geologists, with Germans preferring lab-bound geology.) A more drastic change had already been made with the first (anonymous) English translation of the novel when the Professor’s surname became Hartwig and Axel became an English student named Henry Lawson.