Siren of Atlantis (1949)

76 mins | Adventure | January 1949

Director:

Gregg G. Tallas

Cinematographer:

Karl Struss

Editor:

Gregg G. Tallas

Production Designer:

Lionel Banks

Production Company:

Atlantic Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Pierre Benoit's novel L'Atlantida was first filmed in 1921 in France by director Jacques Feyder, starring Stacia Napierkowska. In 1932, German producer Seymour Nebenzal made French and German versions of the novel under his corporate identity of Nero-Film. Both of the 1932 versions entitled L'Atlantide and Die Herrin von Atlantis were directed by G. W. Pabst and starred Brigitte Helm. In Oct 1946, Nebenzal announced that husband-and-wife Jean-Pierre Aumont and Maria Montez would appear in a new, American adaptation of L'Atlantide . However, in Feb 1947, according to correspondence in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Nebenzal was advised by PCA chief Joseph I. Breen that his screenplay was unacceptable under the provisions of the Production Code "by reason of the improper treatment of illicit sex, the use of hasheesh, and other details."
       Despite Breen's objection, shooting began in the spring of 1947 under Arthur Ripley's direction. In early May 1947, responding to a request from Breen for a copy of the revised script, Nebenzal wrote, "We re-wrote the script as we proceeded with the shooting of the picture, and the beginning has still to be done. When we have a complete script we will be most happy to send it to you. At any rate, we have carefully followed the suggestions made by your office."
       The PCA awarded Siren of Atlantis a certificate in Dec 1948 "with the understanding that the fade out on Aumont and Montez on the couch has been omitted, that the two dagger thrusts have been omitted in ...

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Pierre Benoit's novel L'Atlantida was first filmed in 1921 in France by director Jacques Feyder, starring Stacia Napierkowska. In 1932, German producer Seymour Nebenzal made French and German versions of the novel under his corporate identity of Nero-Film. Both of the 1932 versions entitled L'Atlantide and Die Herrin von Atlantis were directed by G. W. Pabst and starred Brigitte Helm. In Oct 1946, Nebenzal announced that husband-and-wife Jean-Pierre Aumont and Maria Montez would appear in a new, American adaptation of L'Atlantide . However, in Feb 1947, according to correspondence in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Nebenzal was advised by PCA chief Joseph I. Breen that his screenplay was unacceptable under the provisions of the Production Code "by reason of the improper treatment of illicit sex, the use of hasheesh, and other details."
       Despite Breen's objection, shooting began in the spring of 1947 under Arthur Ripley's direction. In early May 1947, responding to a request from Breen for a copy of the revised script, Nebenzal wrote, "We re-wrote the script as we proceeded with the shooting of the picture, and the beginning has still to be done. When we have a complete script we will be most happy to send it to you. At any rate, we have carefully followed the suggestions made by your office."
       The PCA awarded Siren of Atlantis a certificate in Dec 1948 "with the understanding that the fade out on Aumont and Montez on the couch has been omitted, that the two dagger thrusts have been omitted in the killing of Aumont's friend, and that the last shot of Montez in the white dress has been trimmed one third."
       A Jan 1949 NYT news item gave the following account of the production: "Seymour Nebenzal's picture Siren of Atlantis , completed some eighteen months ago at a cost of $1,300,000 is about to see the light of day after extensive revisions which have added another $250,000 to the production bill. A trial engagement in Las Vegas, Nev., convinced Nebenzal that audiences could not understand the Pierre Benoit story because it was 'too philosophical.' So last summer the producer raised additional capital to recoup the original investment and sent the picture back to the cameras for two weeks with John Brahm directing."
       According to the NYT article, Morris Carnovsky's role was eliminated as he was not available for the new scenes, and Henry Daniell replaced him with a new characterization. Neither Brahm nor Ripley, who directed the original picture, was willing to take credit for the final version, and so film editor Gregg Tallas, who synthesized their efforts, was billed as the director of the picture. A modern source adds that United Artists rejected Nebenzal's rough cut and insisted on additional shooting and retakes. The situation was further complicated, according to a Jun 1948 HR news item, by the fact that Maria Montez initially refused to appear in the necessary retakes until she was paid deferred salary due to her. This issue was eventually resolved, however, and by late Jun 1948, the film was in production once again at Goldwyn Studios under director John Brahm.
       During the 1947 production period, Nebenzal announced that a unit had photographed approximately 12,000 feet of exteriors at El Golea in Algiers for use in the film. However, a HR review of the film's press preview in Los Angeles on 10 Dec 1948, mentions "the clever inclusion of some excellent camel and desert shots from the producer's earlier French version." A photographic layout in Life magazine in Jan 1949 highlighted the spectacular interior sets. This was Montez's last American film; she died of a heart attack in Paris on 7 Sep 1951 at the age of 31.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Dec 1948
---
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1948
p. 3
Film Daily
15 Dec 1948
p. 5
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1946
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1947
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 1947
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1947
p. 17
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1947
p. 16
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 1948
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1948
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1948
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1948
p. 3
Life
31 Jan 1949
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Mar 1948
p. 4103
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Dec 1948
p. 4425
New York Times
22 Aug 1949
p. 13
Variety
15 Dec 1948
p. 6
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Op cam
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Gregg Tallas
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Montez' gowns by
MUSIC
Orig mus score
Mus supv
Mus dir
Native percussion
SOUND
Sd rec
Mus rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreographer
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Walter S. Mayo Jr.
Prod mgr
Jr.
Scr supv
Language coach
Grip
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Atlantida by Pierre Benoit (Paris, 1919).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Atlantis
Release Date:
January 1949
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Baltimore (MD): 6 or 8 Jan 1949
Production Date:
17 Feb--early Apr 1947; added scenes began late Jun 1948 at Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Atlantic Productions, Inc.
17 December 1948
LP2016
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76
Length(in feet):
6,799
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12597
SYNOPSIS

After wandering the Sahara Desert for three months, rescued French Legionnaire Lieutenant Andre St. Avit tells his superior officers the incredible tale of how he discovered the lost continent of Atlantis: While St. Avit and four of his fellow Legionnaires search the Sahara Desert for a lost archaeological expedition led by François Masson, St. Avit and hean Morhange become separated from the rest of the search party. The two are abducted by Tuaregs, a tribe of desert nomads, who take them on an arduous journey to the city of Atlantis, in the heart of the Hoggar Mountains. In Atlantis, the fabled home of an ancient civilization that is believed to be extinct, St. Avit and Morhange are taken to see the ruling queen, Antinea. Before meeting the queen, the two Legionnaires meet Blades, a powerful figure in Atlantis, who introduces them to a group of European men, including Le Mesge, who serves as Antinea's court philosopher. The men all speak highly of Antinea but explain that when she tires of her lovers, she disposes of them by encasing them in metal. St. Avit then receives an amulet from Antinea, which is a symbolic indication that she desires to meet him. As predicted by Le Mesge, St. Avit finds himself unable to resist Antinea's beauty and charms, and falls instantly in love with her. At the same time, Morhange, not yet entranced by the queen, sees through her scheme, and together with a female court dancer, Tanit Zerga, plots an escape. Morhange and Tanit are caught while attempting their escape, and later, Tanit, fearing Antinea's harsh punishment, kills herself. Angered by Tanit's death, Morhange visits Antinea and shouts insults at ...

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After wandering the Sahara Desert for three months, rescued French Legionnaire Lieutenant Andre St. Avit tells his superior officers the incredible tale of how he discovered the lost continent of Atlantis: While St. Avit and four of his fellow Legionnaires search the Sahara Desert for a lost archaeological expedition led by François Masson, St. Avit and hean Morhange become separated from the rest of the search party. The two are abducted by Tuaregs, a tribe of desert nomads, who take them on an arduous journey to the city of Atlantis, in the heart of the Hoggar Mountains. In Atlantis, the fabled home of an ancient civilization that is believed to be extinct, St. Avit and Morhange are taken to see the ruling queen, Antinea. Before meeting the queen, the two Legionnaires meet Blades, a powerful figure in Atlantis, who introduces them to a group of European men, including Le Mesge, who serves as Antinea's court philosopher. The men all speak highly of Antinea but explain that when she tires of her lovers, she disposes of them by encasing them in metal. St. Avit then receives an amulet from Antinea, which is a symbolic indication that she desires to meet him. As predicted by Le Mesge, St. Avit finds himself unable to resist Antinea's beauty and charms, and falls instantly in love with her. At the same time, Morhange, not yet entranced by the queen, sees through her scheme, and together with a female court dancer, Tanit Zerga, plots an escape. Morhange and Tanit are caught while attempting their escape, and later, Tanit, fearing Antinea's harsh punishment, kills herself. Angered by Tanit's death, Morhange visits Antinea and shouts insults at her. Antinea responds by vowing to destroy Morhange, and has him confined to a room next to hers. Conspiring with Antinea, Blades lies to St. Avit, telling him that Antinea has chosen Morhange as her new lover. St. Avit becomes so enraged that he stabs and kills his friend. St. Avit immediately regrets killing Morhange, and after fleeing Atlantis, is found by a rescue team and taken to his garrison. St. Avit concludes his story of Atlantis by confessing to the murder of Morhange, but his officers do not believe any of his story. Instead, St. Avit's story is dimissed as the tale of a deluded soldier who spent too much time wandering lost in the desert. St. Avit himself soon begins to believe that the Atlantis experience was a dream, until one of Antinea's bodyguards, brought in as prisoner to the outpost, gives him the queen's amulet. Still in love with the queen, St. Avit mounts his camel and rides off in search of her. The lovestruck Legionnaire never makes it to Atlantis, however, and is found dead in the desert, still clutching the amulet in his hand.

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

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