The Underwater City (1962)

78 mins | Science fiction | 10 January 1962

Director:

Frank McDonald

Producer:

Alex Gordon

Cinematographer:

Gordon Avil

Production Designer:

Don Ament

Production Company:

Neptune Productions
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HISTORY

The 25 Jan 1961 Var and 31 Jan 1961 LAT reported that production was scheduled to begin at Columbia Studios in Los Angeles, CA, using FantaScope, a process involving stop-motion animation. Producer Alex Gordon also intended to film in Eastman Color. The 26 Jan 1961 DV credited Orville H. Hampton as associate producer and screenwriter. According to C. Jack Lewis’s 2002 book, White Horse, Black Hat: A Quarter Century on Hollywood's Poverty Row, Hampton used the pseudonym “Owen Harris” during his tenure at Columbia in an attempt to conceal his past association with low-budget studios.
       The 6 Mar 1961 DV noted that Gordon incorporated an excerpt from President John F. Kennedy’s recent inauguration speech as dialogue for “Dr. Monica Powers,” played by Julie Adams. Arguing in favor of building an underwater city, the character stated: “Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.”
       Principal photography began 7 Mar 1961. Two weeks into filming, the 21 Mar 1961 DV reported that Gordon was seeking permission from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to allow his crew to photograph the sunken freighter, Dominator, near the Palos Verdes Peninsula. In addition to the extensive underwater footage required for twenty-two weeks of scheduled “special effects work,” Gordon was hoping to make a scientific discovery if the ship’s cargo of grain took root on the ocean floor. Principal photography was completed soon ... More Less

The 25 Jan 1961 Var and 31 Jan 1961 LAT reported that production was scheduled to begin at Columbia Studios in Los Angeles, CA, using FantaScope, a process involving stop-motion animation. Producer Alex Gordon also intended to film in Eastman Color. The 26 Jan 1961 DV credited Orville H. Hampton as associate producer and screenwriter. According to C. Jack Lewis’s 2002 book, White Horse, Black Hat: A Quarter Century on Hollywood's Poverty Row, Hampton used the pseudonym “Owen Harris” during his tenure at Columbia in an attempt to conceal his past association with low-budget studios.
       The 6 Mar 1961 DV noted that Gordon incorporated an excerpt from President John F. Kennedy’s recent inauguration speech as dialogue for “Dr. Monica Powers,” played by Julie Adams. Arguing in favor of building an underwater city, the character stated: “Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.”
       Principal photography began 7 Mar 1961. Two weeks into filming, the 21 Mar 1961 DV reported that Gordon was seeking permission from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to allow his crew to photograph the sunken freighter, Dominator, near the Palos Verdes Peninsula. In addition to the extensive underwater footage required for twenty-two weeks of scheduled “special effects work,” Gordon was hoping to make a scientific discovery if the ship’s cargo of grain took root on the ocean floor. Principal photography was completed soon after, as noted in the 5 Apr 1961 Var. The 12 Apr 1961 issue stated that special effects filming was currently underway.
       The 3 Aug 1961 DV credited newscaster Vince Williams with providing voice narration.
       Box-office reports in the 17 Jan 1962 Var indicated a 10 Jan 1962 debut in Seattle, WA. Openings followed in Los Angeles on 7 Feb 1962, and in New York City on 8 Aug 1962. The picture was relegated to the second half of a double bill in all three situations. A review in the 1 Feb 1962 noted that the film was released in black-and-white, neutralizing the impact of its special effects and emphasizing its weak plot.
       On 17 Dec 1963, DV reported that Alex Gordon sued Columbia for $500,000, claiming a breach of contract for the studio’s failure to release the film in color. Twenty months later, the 27 Jul 1965 DV revealed that Gordon filed an $800,000 suit against Columbia, alleging “breach of contract, damage to industry reputation, and false and misleading advertising.” The amount was based on his projection of $300,000, or twenty-five percent of worldwide net profits, had the film been released in color. The dollar amount was described as “compensatory damages” for lowering the picture’s status and earning potential. The remaining $500,000 was for the alleged harm to Gordon’s reputation in the entertainment industry. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Mar 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1961
p. 11.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1965
p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jan 1961
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
6 Feb 1962
Section C, p. 11.
New York Times
26 Mar 1961
Section X, p. 9.
New York Times
8 Aug 1962
p. 29.
Variety
25 Jan 1961
p. 19.
Variety
5 Apr 1961
p. 5.
Variety
12 Apr 1961
p. 15.
Variety
17 Jan 1962
p. 22.
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 January 1962
Premiere Information:
Seattle opening: 10 January 1962
Los Angeles opening: 7 February 1962
New York opening: 8 August 1962
Production Date:
7 March--early April 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Neptune Productions
Copyright Date:
1 February 1962
Copyright Number:
LP21327
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
FantaScope
Duration(in mins):
78
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Marine engineer Bob Gage is hired to supervise the construction of an underwater city being built by Dr. Halstead of the Institute of Oceanography. Gage would prefer to devote his energies to the conquest of outer space and is at first skeptical that the project might eventually provide a haven in the event of an atomic war. Nevertheless, he gradually becomes more enthusiastic over the underwater effort, largely because of his growing love for Dr. Halstead's niece, Dr. Monica Powers. When frogmen have completed assembling the prefabricated parts and cells of the city, Gage, Monica, and several others prepare for the arrival of an inspection team from Washington. Gage then learns that the city has been built at the edge of a subterranean chasm that is slowly being washed away, and he orders an immediate evacuation. Although Dr. Halstead and several others lose their lives when the city collapses, Gage discovers that one of the city's cells has survived the disaster. Now convinced that a new underwater city can be satisfactorily built, he makes plans with Monica to begin another ... +


Marine engineer Bob Gage is hired to supervise the construction of an underwater city being built by Dr. Halstead of the Institute of Oceanography. Gage would prefer to devote his energies to the conquest of outer space and is at first skeptical that the project might eventually provide a haven in the event of an atomic war. Nevertheless, he gradually becomes more enthusiastic over the underwater effort, largely because of his growing love for Dr. Halstead's niece, Dr. Monica Powers. When frogmen have completed assembling the prefabricated parts and cells of the city, Gage, Monica, and several others prepare for the arrival of an inspection team from Washington. Gage then learns that the city has been built at the edge of a subterranean chasm that is slowly being washed away, and he orders an immediate evacuation. Although Dr. Halstead and several others lose their lives when the city collapses, Gage discovers that one of the city's cells has survived the disaster. Now convinced that a new underwater city can be satisfactorily built, he makes plans with Monica to begin another project. +

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

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