The Saturday Matinée ~ "Mysterious Island"

Please see a spoiler alert and the design and intent of these "The Saturday Matinée" film recommendations at ~ "The Saturday Matinee ~ a preview".

The Civil War, Pirates, underwater cities, monster-sized animals, Captain Nemo - 1961's "Mysterious Island" might be the all-time '10 year old boy movie' ever made. Ray Harryhausen is one of the most influential filmmakers ever, the list of directors who name him as their biggest reason for making movies and loving movies is a who's who of today's top film makers. Now, Harryhausen himself was not a director, he was a special effects genius. When Tom Hanks handed Ray Harryhausen his special Academy Award, Hanks announced that while some say "Citizen Kane" and some say "Casablanca", he thinks Harryhausen's "Jason And The Argonauts" is the greatest film ever made.


Enough cannot be said about Ray Harryhausen, but another off-camera genius must be mentioned when talking about "Mysterious Island" . . . Bernard Herrmann was a multiple Oscar nominee and winner who wrote some of the screen's most memorable film scores, including the music to "Citizen Kane", "Cape Fear", and "Taxi Driver", but, that's not even touching on the series of musical scores he did for two great filmmakers - Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Harryhausen. Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "Vertigo", "The Birds", "North By Northwest", "Psycho", etc, all featured music by Bernard Herrmann, as did many of Harryhausen's films. When you watch "Mysterious Island", right from the start, the first thing that grabs you is Bernard Herrmann's music . . . the double clashing cymbals as the waves first crash (TTSSSHHHH) against the rocks and then burst (TTSSSHHHH) into the air with a rousing "TTSSSHHHH TTSSSHHHH"! Just listen to the little bit you get in the trailer below.

All the performances in this film are great; Michael Craig is properly balanced between wonder and resolve as the heroic leader, Gary Merrill (husband of Betti Davis) as a newspaper reporter is one of those actors many in my generation know from dozens of films and is always good, and Michael Callan was the new rising star - but it's the Captain Nemo character and performance that is one of those perfect actor for the role circumstances that you can't always see coming.


In that era, the early 1960s, if I were to pick any actor to play Nemo in a film I would quickly and easily pick James Mason . . . and that's just what genius Walt Disney did for his 1954 film "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", and James Mason was flawless as the tortured visionary Captain Nemo. However - Herbert Lom (who was frequently being driven batty as Inspector Clouseau's boss in the "Pink Panther" films) was inspired as "Mysterious Island"'s Captain Nemo.


I like to think if James Mason had been in the Nemo role in this superior film to his "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", he would have been a superior Nemo as well (because I'm a great fan of James Mason) - but there's no denying it, Herbert Lom is THE screen Nemo. When Michael Craig's Captain Harding asks Nemo why he has kept himself hidden from the castaways, Lom as Nemo answers with one of my favorite lines in movie history . . . as a kid, I sat in the theater and knew just what Nemo was talking about, and it was helpful to the youthful me that someone else out there 'got' what I often felt.


So, make it a big deal, have movie night, have a cousin or friend join them, get some snacks, BUT - encourage them to attentively watch the movie, it's not play or goof-off time, if they sit still and pay attention "Mysterious Island" will teach them to want to do this some more, it will persuade them that mom & dad might just know what they're talking about sometimes. And, please remember, this is not for the kids, this is for the family . . . and if you sit attentively and actually watch the movie, you will see how well done a simple Saturday matinée movie from 50 years ago can be - a well told story is timeless and for young and old.

This is the first in my series of "The Saturday Matinée" movie recommendations. . . as I continue to publish other suggested films, this space will provide links to those entries in the series.


"A Preview" (an introduction to this movie review series)

1. "Mysterious Island"

2. "Horror Of Dracula"

3. "This Island Earth"


please also visit my other series "Regular, Normal Christianity"


Please do share any comments or questions below ~


One of the 'boy's back to school movie sleepovers with grampa' with just some of the grandsons . . . the younger ones will join us as they are able and interested to sit still and give their attention to the movie

Please do visit my other hubs ~

Regular, Normal Christianity

Preface ~ "The Premise And Definitions"

1. "The Bible"

2. "God"

3. "Jesus of Nazareth"

4. "The Trinity"

5. "Man, Sin, And Spiritual Death"

6. "The Covenant, The Promise, The Covenants, And The Gospel"

7. "The Atonement - Law & Grace" (coming soon)


LOGISMOS

1. "The Seasons"

2. "Why Do We Write?"


General Fussing About ~

1. "Vampires"

2. (coming soon)


Miscellaneous

"The Best Halloween Movie"

"Do I believe in love at first sight? Yes - sort of . . ."

"Leonard - The Best Dog Ever"

More by this Author


Comments & Questions ~ 3 comments

lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Mickey, awesome. You rekindled something wonderful with this. Nicely done.

Ray Harryhausen? I've seen that name on so many of my favorites, it's uncanny. The guy was a magician before CGI. And "Jason and the Argonauts" was another matinee favorite of mine.

I had completely forgotten Lom as Nemo in this. Suddenly, I saw him again, amongst some dusty old memories. I've got to see this again.

I seem to remember balloons at the beginning -- during the Civil War. When I first saw this, I was amazed at this historical element. I hadn't known the armies used such things.

And James Mason? Outstanding. I re-watched another of my favorites, recently -- the earlier (better) version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Mason's enthusiasm for science (through his character) was infectious.

"Mysterious Island" is storytelling at its lovable best. Thanks for waking up those old memories.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

lone77star,

What I giant treat you are for me. It is such a delight when you can recognize that someone else 'gets' something that moves you, something you own a passion for. It would be nice if we were near one another - I would very happily offer you access to by DVD library . . . I have 6 kids and 12 grandchildren and just about all I've ever asked for at Christmas and birthdays (for 30 years) is movies.

I imagine if you recognize Harryhausen's name you'll likewise have a fondness for the great old Hammer classics from England . . . the next "Saturday Matinée" I'm going to do will be the Hammer Films masterpiece "The Horror Of Dracula" with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Eventually I'll get to a few Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe/Roger Corman films, certainly more of Harryhausen, and even one or two of William Castle's shlock films.

Thanks so much for visiting the site and for your generous review.

p.s.

do you know how to get rid of the little "see all 5 photos" button on my marquee image? It was first on the "Movies For The Whole Family" image above it and I deleted that image and redid it, but then the "see all 5 photos" button popped-up on the next image . . ? . . I've seen this happen on any of my other Hubs . . ? I can't get rid of it.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Mickey- I'm so glad you decided to do this series. There are fond memories of going to the movies with my Dad and watching many of the Ray Harryhausen and other classics. We also have 'movie nights' at home where I hook up the projector and have a full Saturday matinee effect with the kids at home - they've seen Jason and the Argonauts as qell as Sindbad. I havent seen mysterious island but have seen the 20,000 leagues with Masom . Lom sounds like an inspired choice ot play Nemo. In the original book Nemo is an anti-imperialistic son of an Indian Rajah. In the ill fated adaptation of the Alan Moore comic 'League of Extraordinary Gentleman' ( great comic, terrible film) it was eventually played true to its origins by the Indian character actor Naseeruddin Shah.

I have to go and catch up your other hubs now- I'm hooked!

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