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HISTORY

The working titles for this film were Night Without Stars and To the Center of the Earth . The film closes with the following written epilogue: “Portions of this film were photographed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, New Mexico, with the courtesy and cooperation of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.” A 29 Dec 1950 HR article states that producers I. A. Block and J. R. Rabin, owners of a matte service at the time, edited the film, then titled Night Without Stars , on the Eagle-Lion Studios lot. According to a 3 Aug 1951 HR article, Block and Rabin originally co-produced the film with Philip Yordan; however, Yordan’s participation in the film has not been confirmed. ... More Less

The working titles for this film were Night Without Stars and To the Center of the Earth . The film closes with the following written epilogue: “Portions of this film were photographed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, New Mexico, with the courtesy and cooperation of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.” A 29 Dec 1950 HR article states that producers I. A. Block and J. R. Rabin, owners of a matte service at the time, edited the film, then titled Night Without Stars , on the Eagle-Lion Studios lot. According to a 3 Aug 1951 HR article, Block and Rabin originally co-produced the film with Philip Yordan; however, Yordan’s participation in the film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Nov 1951.
---
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1951
p. 3.
Hollywood Citizen-News
25 Oct 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1951
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1951
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1951
p. 4.
Los Angeles Daily News
25 Oct 1951.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
25 Nov 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Feb 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Oct 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Nov 1951
p. 1094.
Variety
31 Oct 1951
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
WRITER
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Op cam
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Prod des and spec photog eff
Prod des and spec photog eff
Mechanical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
To the Center of the Earth
Night Without Stars
Release Date:
26 October 1951
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 October 1951
Production Date:
1950
Copyright Claimant:
J. R. Rabin and I. A. Block
Copyright Date:
14 November 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1287
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15102
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Fearing the use of atomic weapons and energy will inevitably lead to the extinction of civilization, famed geologist Dr. Jeremiah Morley creates “The Society to Save Civilization,” which includes geophysicist Dr. Max A. Bauer, meteorological engineer Dr. James Paxton, physician Dr. Joan Lindsey, soil conservationist Dr. George Coleman and explosives expert Andrew Ostengaard. The group proposes to find a safe haven for humanity deep under the earth’s crust using an underground vehicle called a cyclotram, which can withstand the earth’s heat and pressure. After many unsuccessful attempts to secure funding for the journey, the group accept money from wealthy, jaded playboy Wright Thompson, Jr., in trade for his being included on the expedition. After construction of the cyclotram is complete, the group begin their journey at the crater of Mt. Neleh, an extinct volcano near Alaska. After drilling into the earth several miles below sea level, they find a cavern filled with 200-million-year-old limestone formations. As they travel another 100 miles below sea level, the group feel suffocated, depressed and alone, “like the last chord with humanity has been cut.” When Paxton, disgruntled by the others’ pessimism, leaves to investigate the surroundings, Coleman follows him. Soon after, toxic gas levels suddenly rise outside the ship, which kill Coleman and Paxton. After burying them, the group discovers the water supply has been poisoned due to Thompson’s carelessness. Furious, Andy picks a fight with Thompson, but Morley refocuses the group on finding water. After a desperate search, the group discovers steam that condenses into drinkable water. The dire circumstances prompt the group to vote on whether to continue the trip. Bauer agrees with Thompson that finding suitable living conditions for humans ... +


Fearing the use of atomic weapons and energy will inevitably lead to the extinction of civilization, famed geologist Dr. Jeremiah Morley creates “The Society to Save Civilization,” which includes geophysicist Dr. Max A. Bauer, meteorological engineer Dr. James Paxton, physician Dr. Joan Lindsey, soil conservationist Dr. George Coleman and explosives expert Andrew Ostengaard. The group proposes to find a safe haven for humanity deep under the earth’s crust using an underground vehicle called a cyclotram, which can withstand the earth’s heat and pressure. After many unsuccessful attempts to secure funding for the journey, the group accept money from wealthy, jaded playboy Wright Thompson, Jr., in trade for his being included on the expedition. After construction of the cyclotram is complete, the group begin their journey at the crater of Mt. Neleh, an extinct volcano near Alaska. After drilling into the earth several miles below sea level, they find a cavern filled with 200-million-year-old limestone formations. As they travel another 100 miles below sea level, the group feel suffocated, depressed and alone, “like the last chord with humanity has been cut.” When Paxton, disgruntled by the others’ pessimism, leaves to investigate the surroundings, Coleman follows him. Soon after, toxic gas levels suddenly rise outside the ship, which kill Coleman and Paxton. After burying them, the group discovers the water supply has been poisoned due to Thompson’s carelessness. Furious, Andy picks a fight with Thompson, but Morley refocuses the group on finding water. After a desperate search, the group discovers steam that condenses into drinkable water. The dire circumstances prompt the group to vote on whether to continue the trip. Bauer agrees with Thompson that finding suitable living conditions for humans remains unattainable, but Joan, Morley and Andy want to continue. Back on board the ship, Thompson attempts to romance Joan, but she believes his advances are due to her being the only woman on the trip. As they near 850 miles, the cyclotram is submerged in water, then floats up into a huge lake. Despite the water being drinkable, the scientists are not sure that the “valley of the shadows” could be a shelter for humanity. Though the site has a transient beauty, the lack of light depresses them. Animosity between Thompson and Andy continues, causing them to separate while exploring the surrounding area on foot. When Thompson slides down a precipice and calls for help, Andy helps him to safety, but falls to his death when the rope snaps. Committed to continuing on in Andy’s memory, Thompson convinces Morley, Bauer and Joan to forge ahead. At 1,640 miles, they stop to investigate a light source and find a magnificent waterfall in a vast and radiant cavern along the shore of an underground sea. A wind blows, while vapors form luminous clouds in a sky of phosphorescent light. After several days of experiments, the scientists are excited to discover the area is rich in minerals and can be irrigated to sustain crops. Despite no real sunlight, the scientists agree that crops can be scientifically adjusted, but wonder if humans can survive. The group stays at the site for several weeks while Joan collects data to see how they adjust to their environment. Though the initial results appear positive, the babies from rabbits bred on site are born dead. The scientists conclude that only one generation of humans could survive there. While considering the fate of humanity, each traveler contemplates his or her own place in the world. Thompson, Bauer and Joan reveal that they have run away from the problems in their lives; however, Joan wants to return to the earth’s surface to fight for women’s equality and find a means to preserve human life there. Morley, a survivor of two world wars, is weary of human mistakes and violence. Suddenly lightening strikes and an avalanche of rocks falls to the ground. Surrounding volcanoes burst into flames, causing the sea to boil. Forced to make a quick decision, Thompson, Joan and Bauer rush to the ship, while Morley calmly remains behind. Once on board, the sea submerges the cyclotram, which descends out of the group’s control. At 2,500 miles below sea level, the group believe they are doomed; however, with sudden buoyancy, the craft ascends until they reach the channel to one of the earth’s upper oceans. From out of their window they recognize familiar oceanic life and realize the earth is still in harmony. Once they rise to the surface and spot a seagull, Thompson, full of reverence for life on earth, comments, “I feel like I’ll live forever.”


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

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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.