Master of the World (1961)

100 or 104 mins | Fantasy | 31 May 1961

Director:

William Witney

Producer:

James H. Nicholson

Cinematographer:

Gilbert Warrenton

Editor:

Anthony Carras

Production Designer:

Daniel Haller

Production Company:

Alta Vista Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

Master of the World followed on the heels of three commercially successful Jules Verne adaptations – 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1956’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and 1959’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (see entries) – according to a 16 Nov 1960 Var brief, which cited two other Jules Verne adaptations in the works: Mysterious Island (1961, see entry), and Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962, see entry). The picture was announced in the 11 Apr 1960 DV as one of American International Pictures’ (AIP) eighteen productions in development. A 26 Aug 1960 DV article stated that Master of the World would cost $1 million, making it AIP’s most expensive undertaking, to date. Shooting was scheduled to begin in early Sep 1960, and Vincent Price was cast in the leading role of “Robur,” the 20 Jul 1960 Var stated. Mark Damon, who co-starred with Price in the 1960 Roger Corman production, The Fall of the House of Usher (see entry), was hired to play “Philip.” However, a 2 Sep 1960 LAT item reported that Damon had been replaced by David Frankham. The picture marked Charles Bronson’s last under a five-year contract with AIP, according to a 30 Sep 1960 DV item.
       A 9 Sep 1960 DV production chart announced the start of principal photography that day. Filming took place at Republic Studios in Los Angeles, CA, where AIP rented three soundstages for four weeks.
       AIP negotiated a deal with Dell Comic Books for ... More Less

Master of the World followed on the heels of three commercially successful Jules Verne adaptations – 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1956’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and 1959’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (see entries) – according to a 16 Nov 1960 Var brief, which cited two other Jules Verne adaptations in the works: Mysterious Island (1961, see entry), and Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962, see entry). The picture was announced in the 11 Apr 1960 DV as one of American International Pictures’ (AIP) eighteen productions in development. A 26 Aug 1960 DV article stated that Master of the World would cost $1 million, making it AIP’s most expensive undertaking, to date. Shooting was scheduled to begin in early Sep 1960, and Vincent Price was cast in the leading role of “Robur,” the 20 Jul 1960 Var stated. Mark Damon, who co-starred with Price in the 1960 Roger Corman production, The Fall of the House of Usher (see entry), was hired to play “Philip.” However, a 2 Sep 1960 LAT item reported that Damon had been replaced by David Frankham. The picture marked Charles Bronson’s last under a five-year contract with AIP, according to a 30 Sep 1960 DV item.
       A 9 Sep 1960 DV production chart announced the start of principal photography that day. Filming took place at Republic Studios in Los Angeles, CA, where AIP rented three soundstages for four weeks.
       AIP negotiated a deal with Dell Comic Books for the publication of a Master of the World comic, as noted in the 8 Jun 1960 Var. The independent production company also promoted the picture by hosting a gala event at the Theatre Owners of America convention in Los Angeles, as stated in the 13 Sep 1960 DV, at which models of Robur’s ship, the Albatross, and a balloon from the picture were on display.
       A Hollywood, CA, premiere was set to take place on 31 May 1961. The 19 Apr 1961 Var noted that AIP executive Milton Moritz invited Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin to the event. Gagarin had recently become the first man in space and was reportedly a fan of Jules Verne.
       Critical reception was lackluster. The 26 Apr 1961 DV and 1 Jun 1961 LAT reviews reserved praise for the prologue, which the latter described as a series of “newsreel clips depicting man’s first clumsy efforts to fly like a bird.” Despite tepid reviews, AIP chief James H. Nicholson alluded to the picture’s commercial success in a 30 Aug 1961 Var brief, stating that Master of the World was poised to have the widest playoff in the company’s history” and might be AIP’s first to be released “behind the Iron Curtain.”
       Items in the 22 Aug and 9 Sep 1960 DV stated the film was shot “in color and Dyna-Magic.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1960.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1960
p. 8.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1960
p. 9.
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1960
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
9 Sep 1960
p. 6.
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1960
p. 1.
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1960
p. 15.
Daily Variety
26 May 1961
p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1960
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
2 Sep 1960
p. 31.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jun 1961
Section C, p. 11.
New York Times
16 Sep 1961
p. 9.
Variety
8 Jun 1960
p. 4.
Variety
20 Jul 1960
p. 5.
Variety
31 Aug 1960
p. 11.
Variety
16 Nov 1960
p. 26.
Variety
19 Apr 1961
p. 3.
Variety
30 Aug 1961
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Roger Corman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
Mus coordinator
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
Photog eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Sp prop & eff
Sp col proc
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Prop master
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Maître du monde by Jules Verne (Paris, 1904) and his novel Robur-le-conquérant (Paris, 1886).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Master of the World," words and music by Les Baxter and Lenny Addelson.
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 May 1961
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 31 May 1961
New York opening: 15 September 1961
Production Date:
began 9 September 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Alta Vista Productions
Copyright Date:
30 May 1961
Copyright Number:
LP21145
Physical Properties:
Sound
StereoSonic Sound
Color
Magna Color
Prints
Pathé
Duration(in mins):
100 or 104
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the nineteenth century, government agent Strock is ordered to sail in a balloon over a Pennsylvania crater to investigate a series of mysterious eruptions. Accompanying him are a munitions maker, Prudent, with his daughter, Dorothy, and her fiancé, Philip. Their balloon is shot down over the crater, and they become the prisoners of Robur, an inventor who has built a fantastic flying ship, Albatross, which he plans to use to destroy all instruments of war, thereby bringing lasting peace to the world. With his prisoners aboard, Robur proceeds on his mission across the world, bombing London, the English navy yards, and the armies of Austria and Egypt. Realizing that Robur is mad, Strock determines to destroy Albatross at the risk of death to all aboard. When the flying ship lands for repairs at a Mediterranean island, the prisoners escape, and with ammunition taken from the ship's armory, Strock sets off an explosion that sends Albatross, Robur, and the crew to the bottom of the ... +


In the nineteenth century, government agent Strock is ordered to sail in a balloon over a Pennsylvania crater to investigate a series of mysterious eruptions. Accompanying him are a munitions maker, Prudent, with his daughter, Dorothy, and her fiancé, Philip. Their balloon is shot down over the crater, and they become the prisoners of Robur, an inventor who has built a fantastic flying ship, Albatross, which he plans to use to destroy all instruments of war, thereby bringing lasting peace to the world. With his prisoners aboard, Robur proceeds on his mission across the world, bombing London, the English navy yards, and the armies of Austria and Egypt. Realizing that Robur is mad, Strock determines to destroy Albatross at the risk of death to all aboard. When the flying ship lands for repairs at a Mediterranean island, the prisoners escape, and with ammunition taken from the ship's armory, Strock sets off an explosion that sends Albatross, Robur, and the crew to the bottom of the sea. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.