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Sunday, June 26, 2016

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961)

Theoretically, this ought to be the standout film in the series of combination live-action/stop-motion adventures produced by Charles H. Schneer & animated by Ray Harryhausen. It’s one (of four) with a Bernard Herrmann score*; has a cast of real actors instead of nobodies (Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood, Gary Merrill, Herbert Lom); a swell Jules Verne novel as its source; even a legit director with a knack for action in Cy Endfield. Alas, any hopes for a more unified artistic product are illusory. Instead, the usual mix of ginned-up showmanship (monsters & Sci-Fi elements) in place for Verne’s carefully designed storytelling rhythms & delayed surprises. Oh well, still good fun on its own terms, though with less than convincing matte painted vistas, along with a fair amount of leftover Verne holding things together as outline (Civil War escapees balloon to a not-so deserted isle), and a smash set piece with giant bees no kid will soon forget.

LINK/READ ALL ABOUT IT: *Make that Hear All About It. Herrmann’s score deserves a proper outing. Many recordings of various excerpts out there, and a hard to find soundtrack album. Here’s a link with Herrmann conducting his own extended suite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4TKbiJa0n4

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