USA / 1961
Director: Irwin Allen
Writers: Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lorre, Robert Sterling
Far out in space, the Van Allen radiation belts are causing the polar ice cap to burn, threatening life on earth. The only hope lies in the experimental atomic super-submarine, the Seaview, which is launched to break through the ice caps and fire missiles at the crucial moment to extinguish the fire and save the world. Led by martinet Admiral Walter Pidgeon, the sub faces countless perils on its journey, not least of which comes from the enemy within (Peter Lorre).
For its time, the effects are very fetching – the vessel alone cost $400,000 – and the whole adventure makes for rollicking entertainment, provided you don’t harbour a serious concern for nuclear science.
The film was a full-blown feature, not a television pilot, but the subsequent television series (1964-’68, executive-produced and sometimes directed by Irwin Allen) was made for 20th Century Fox to cash in on the box office success of the movie and to recycle the hardware, costumes and second-unit footage.