Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) has been hailed as both a genius and a lunatic. Without a doubt his development of an atomically powered submarine, the USOS Seaview, is a high-tech feat. But his disregard for authority from the military and scientific community has made many question the method of his madness.
Regardless of popular opinion, Nelson sets out to prove the seaworthiness of his invention. Also on board are Congressman Llewellyn Parker (Howard McNear), Vice-Admiral B.J. Crawford (John Litel), and psychiatrist Dr. Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine), assigned to observe the mission and ensure it meets the country’s political ambitions, and keeps safe the vessel and the crew.
However their voyage changes direction after the Seaview surfaces amidst the arctic ice and discovers the Earth has faced a major catastrophe during the few days they have been under water and outside of radio contact. Somehow the Van Allen Belts, high above the planet’s atmosphere, have caught fire and are heating up the entire globe.
Putting his brain and slide rule to the task, Nelson determines the solution to the crisis is shooting an atomic missile into the flaming rings, from a precise location at an exact time. Steering the sub to New York, he presents his plan to the decision makers conferring at the United Nations. But not all of the experts at the gathering agree with his conclusion. They prefer the theory that the problem will reach a critical temperature and burn itself out at a date and time just after the one Nelson has calculated. Not willing to wait and see if his opponents are correct, Nelson heads back to his vessel and sets sail, hoping to make it to the Marianas Trench in the sixteen scant days he has left before the deadline.
Although Nelson has always enjoyed great loyalty from his crew, some under his command now start to question his sanity, especially when they realize he has begun this quest without securing political approval. Among those pulled in opposite directions are Lee Crane (Robert Sterling) acting captain of the Seaview, and Lt. Cathy Connors (Barbara Eden) who is Nelson’s personal secretary—but also Captain Crain’s fiancé.
And internal rough waters are not the only challenges plaguing the journey. Communication blackouts, battles with sea creatures, an explosive minefield, mental breakdowns that lead to fights and a suicide, as well as having a religious fatalist and a saboteur on board, combine to make this a perilous Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
Despite featuring the latest in technology that 1961 could boast, this deep-sea tale often ignores long accepted science. The film is also suffers from some dated gender stereotyping, cigar smoking and attitudes about atomic power. Yet for those willing to overlook such flaws, this classic may still offer plenty of adventure and a time-capsule-glimpse of a world just stepping into the technology revolution.Directed by Irwin Allen. Starring Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release July 12, 1961. Updated October 8, 2013
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Rating & Content Info
Why is Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea rated PG? Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is rated PG by the MPAA
Violence: Prideful mention is made of sub’s weapons, atomic missiles and military capabilities. Characters find themselves in peril from natural disasters, a freak magnetic storm, radiation, sea creatures, heat exposure, a minefield and enemy attacks. Episodes of sabotage result in danger to the crew, a fire and poisonous gas in the ventilation system. Characters are attacked and bitten by a shark: one is killed. Men on board the exterior of a submarine get submerged when the vessel descends suddenly. Stress causes men to fight with one another verbally and physically. One character commits suicide and others are killed in an explosion. Aquatic animals are shot and speared (some blood shown). Corpses are seen of men killed by excessive heat. Torpedo fire is exchanged. Water floods some areas of a submarine. Characters are threatened with a grenade.
Sexual Content: A man’s bare chest is seen.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Cigar smoking is seen.
The script makes special mention of having women on board (one is a secretary and the other a psychiatrist). A hyper-religious character has a fatalistic attitude.
Page last updated October 8, 2013
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Parents' Guide
The Van Allen Belts were discovered in 1958. And the first Transatlantic telephone cable was laid in 1956. This movie was made just a few years later, in 1961. How does the inclusion of these events give the movie a sense of being on the cutting edge of technology? Despite such high-tech depictions, what scientific principles are blatantly ignored? (For instance, does ice float or sink?)
How are atomic energy and nuclear power depicted in this film that was made in the Cold War era?
How has technology changed over the years? Do you know what a slide rule is? What impact would today’s discoveries have on such things as communications and the time it takes to travel?
Learn more about the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans.
Teen idol Frankie Avalon stars in this movie (he plays trumpet in one scene) and sings the theme song.
The most recent home video release of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea movie is October 8, 2013. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Release Date: 8 October 2013
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea releases to home video (Blu-ray) with the following extras:
- Commentary by Author Tim Colliver
- Science Fiction: Fantasy to Reality Documentary
- Interview with Barbara Eden
- Isolated Score Track
- Original Theatrical Trailer