For Reel

20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
October 16, 2015, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Richard Fleischer
3.5 Stars
20000 Leagues Under the SeaJames Mason was the right man to play 20000 Leagues Under the Sea’s Captain Nemo, a tragic figure who is is wrought to be an alien to his own generation. Disenchanted by the “progress” of the world outside, Nemo holes himself up in a submarine and indulges the spirit to explore, discover, and put an end to man’s predilection towards war through violent means. If Nemo has clearly gone mad, he’s a product of his time. Mason was particularly gifted at these wounded, grieving characters–he is often characterized as a loner, but one who carries himself with a certain pride and grace. Alongside Mason is Kirk Douglas as a harpooner in an unfortunately misjudged casting decision. Douglas, in his form-fitting sailor outfit and frequent mugging, is so cartoonishly superhuman that he seems like a good fit for a traditional Disney film, but this is undoubtedly one of the darker, more thoughtful ventures of Walt Disney’s career. The production design and special effects are certainly worth mentioning–the rooms aboard the Nautilus are unforgettable, feeling as though a vast gothic mansion has been cramped into a tin can. If it falters on occasion–the tangent involving a cannibal island is unnecessary–the terrific visuals and especially the performances of Mason and Paul Lukas are worth seeing.

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