Journey To The Center Of The Earth
Some gifts are more appreciated than others. For Professor Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason), the ornate inkwell from his adoring colleagues doesn't compare with the lava specimen a faithful student bestows upon him. The teacher of geological and natural history wastes no time examining the unusual rock. Within the crusty mass he finds an artifact belonging to a long lost explorer, with an inscription about his journey to the center of the earth.
Full of excitement, the Scottish professor prepares to follow in the footsteps of the intrepid adventurer with Alec McEwen (Pat Boone), his favorite pupil, in tow. But the pair doesn't realize that they are not alone in their quest.
Some murderous competition forces the Edinburgh expedition to take on three new companions: Mrs. Carla Goetaborg (Arlene Dahl), the widow of a prominent scientist, Hans Belker (Peter Ronson), a handy Icelandic hulk and Gertrude ... his pet duck. Feeling weighted down with the extra baggage, Lindenbrook leads the exploration party into a volcanic tunnel where dangers and delights await.
Facing such perils as falling rocks, flooding caverns, a gun toting villain, and man-eating monster lizards, the subterranean world may frighten young viewers, even though the 1957 special effects look pretty cheesy by today's standards. Nor does the script ever cumber itself with too much scientific fact. This, coupled with Pat Boone's character occasionally breaking into song, may make it difficult for older audiences to take the movie seriously.
However, this adaptation of Jules Verne's novel does present an entertaining adventure story, with little violent or sexual content. It also provides an opportunity to examine the consequences of greed. Compared to the trend in more recent theatrical offerings, that may be Journey to the Center of the Earth's most appreciated gift.