This end-of-the-world sci-fi tale can’t quite decide if it wants to be apocalyptic kiddie-fare or thinking-man’s doomsday log. MOTHRA/’62 or THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE/’62? Working with a tight budget, action specialist Andrew Marton pulls a lot out of his limited production values, and even manages to get a bit of a rhythm going. Dana Andrews is smooth as the aging thermonuclear scientist who hopes to find a new fuel supply by launching an atomic rocket deep inside the earth’s crust. Keiran Moore is his younger colleague, a Cassandra with dire warnings about the possible consequences . . . like maybe cracking the earth in two! Now, there’s only one way to save the world, drop a counter nuclear bomb in a volcano! Atomic bomb mavens will enjoy all the stock explosion footage, and there are runaway toy trains and terrified natives for third-act panic attacks. There’s even a love interest for the men to fight over, Jeanette Scott, who hardly seems worth the effort. But in spite of the reasonably effective effects, the story runs out of satisfying plot twists long before the film wraps things up on a note of unsatisfying ambiguity. Still, you can have a good time just watching Andrews rapidly disintegrate as his terminal illness steadily gains on him with every edit. Like Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY/’86.
WATCH THIS. NOT THAT: GOJIRO/'54, the original Japanese cut of what was released in the States as GODZILLA/'56, is still one of the most effective films about Mother Nature taking her revenge for man's nuclear hubris..