Mysterious Island (7/10)

This 1961 movie based on the Jules Verne story follows a group of Civil War soldiers who escape from imprisonment in a balloon only to find themselves on a strange island in the Pacific. The first 30 minutes of the movie are excellent and full of tension and excitement as they make their escape. The Bernard Herman score is top-notch. It’s on the island when the film shows its age. The Ray Harryhausen effects are fantastic but the story doesn’t live up to the first act. I mean, there’s a perfect conflict set-up in which a Confederate soldier is part of the mix and one of the Union soldiers is black but nothing is ever made of this. There’s a rock-a-billy haired teen soldier, an 1860’s mini-skirted damsel, and then the greatest cross-over event of the nineteenth century happens with the appearance of the Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues. All-in-all, goofy fun.

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