Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 11th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1959
Director: Henry Levin
Writers: Walter Reisch, Charles Brackett
Cast: Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Thayer David, Peter Ronson, Robert Adler, Alan Napier
BluRay released: September 18th, 2017
Approximate running time: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: U (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Eureka Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)
Journey to the Center of the Earth was directed by Henry Levin whose other notable films include, The Lonely Man, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die and That Man Bolt. Key collaborators on Journey to the Center of the Earth include cinematographer Leo Tover (The Day the Earth Stood Still) and composer Bernard Herrmann (The Bride Wore Black, Sisters).
The screenplay for Journey to the Center of the Earth was adapted from author Jules Verne’s novel of the same name. And though it can be a very treacherous task trying to adapting a novel into a film. Every so often along comes a film that captures the essence of source from it was adapted from. Case in point, 20th Century Fox’s 1959 adaption of author Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
The narrative does a superb job setting up the main scenario and there is an ample amount of surprises along the way to keep things moving along at a satisfying momentum. From a production standpoint, there is not an area where this film is lacking. And this film’s visuals perfectly capture the picturesque landscapes. With this film’s only shortcoming being that some of the special effects look dated.
The characters are well defined and performance wise the cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being James Mason (North by Northwest, Lolita) in the role of Sir Oliver S. Lindenbrook, the Edinburgh professor who puts together an expedition to journey to the center of the Earth. Other performances of note include, Arlene Dahl (Slightly Scarlet) in the role of Carla Göteborg, the widow of Lindenbrook’s rival and Thayer David (“Dark Shadows”) in the role of Count Saknussemm, the man determined to reach the center of the Earth before Lindenbrook.
Journey to the Center of the Earth comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a 4k restoration. This is a solid looking transfer and though its uses the same 4k source as Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release. There are few areas where it looks slightly better than that aforementioned release, most notably colors saturation.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes are in excellent shaped, dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced robust when it needs too. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 21 seconds), an option to listen to an isolated music and effects track, a featurette on the film’s restoration (3 minutes 47 seconds), an interview with critic / author Kim Newman (22 minutes 6 seconds) and an audio commentary with actress Diane Baker and film historians Steven C. Smith & Nick Redman.
Topics discussed in the interview with Kim Newman include, author Jules Verne and various films adaptions of his novels, Victorian era Science Fiction, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the cast and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, background information about Arlene Dahl, Pat Boone, James Mason, Henry Levin, Jules Verne, Bernard Herrmann and Diane Baker discusses her experiences working at 20th Century Fox and onset memories.
Rounding out the extras is a thirty-two-page booklet with cast & crew credits, an essay titled Journey to the Center of the Earth; Verne Fables Opens at the Paramount written by Bosley Crowther, a section titled Archival Imagery, a section titled Poster Gallery and information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing.
Overall Journey to the Center of the Earth gets an exceptional release from Eureka Video, highly recommended.