Master of the World (1961 film)

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Master of the World
Master of the world poster.jpg
film poster
Directed by William Witney
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff
Anthony Carras
James H. Nicholson
Written by Richard Matheson
Based on the novels Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World 
by Jules Verne
Starring Vincent Price
Charles Bronson
Henry Hull
Mary Webster
Richard Harrison
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Gil Warrenton
Edited by Anthony Carras
Distributed by American International
Release dates 1961
Running time 102 min / USA:99 min (including prologue)
Country USA
Language English

Master of the World is a 1961 science fiction film based upon the Jules Verne novels Robur the Conqueror and its sequel, Master of the World. The movie was written by Richard Matheson, directed by William Witney, and features Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, and Henry Hull. American International Pictures released the film as a double feature with Konga.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Captain Robur (Price), shoots down and takes on board his flying ship Prudent (Hull), his daughter Dorothy (Webster), her fiance Evans (Frankham), all of whom were exploring a volcanic crater in their hot air balloon, along with US government agent Strock (Bronson), who had hired them to look for evidence of an eruption. The supposed eruption was caused by Robur working on his airship, who had also inadvertently broadcast a biblical passage over a voice amplifier, stirring religious fears among the citizenry of the nearby town. Robur has been traversing the globe in his airship, the Albatross, with a goal of forcing peace on the world by virtue of his superior military capabilities. He has a loyal crew of like-minded, equally fanatical idealists. The captives learn how his ship operates, and about his technical advances, including generation of electrical power by crossing "lines of magnetic force" (presumably created by the earth's own magnetic field). The captives wish to escape, but don't fully trust Strock, who appears at times to side with the Captain. After saving Evans' life, Strock explains that his oath of loyalty to the Captain was insincere, and that as a captive, he feels no compunction to behave as a gentleman.

After the airship is seriously damaged by a storm, the captives manage to rig the gunpowder in the airship's armory to explode, while the ship is anchored to the shoreline of Pitcairn Island for repairs. All escape down the anchor line except Strock, who follows while being shot at by the crew. First Strock, then Evans, work at cutting the anchor line, finally releasing the airship, which is damaged beyond repair moments later when the gunpowder explodes. Robur orders his crew to abandon ship, but they choose to ignore his final order, and gather in his quarters while he reads from Isaiah 2:4 (the well-known "Swords into Plowshares" passage), reminding them of their pledge to try to rid the world of war. The ship crashes into the ocean, along with Robur and crew, while the captives watch, injured but alive, from the shore.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was an attempt by American International Pictures to create a prestigious epic adventure along the lines of 1956's Around the World in 80 Days. While it boasted a larger cast and more location work than was then the norm for AIP - it was the studio's biggest budget picture to date[1] - it still utilised stock footage, including the opening miniature shot of Elizabethan London from Laurence Olivier's Henry V as a stand-in for Victorian London, with the skyship Albatross superimposed over the top. Additional scenes of the Albatross destroying both sides in a naval engagement are created in the same manner, with stock footage borrowed from model shoots of Napoleonic sea battles.

The script combined elements of both Jules Verne's novels, Master of the World, and Robur the Conqueror.[2] Robur, genius, inventor and in this instance, creator of powered heavier than air craft Albatross, with his hand picked crew chooses to use weapons of war to force the governments of the world to lay down their arms and live in peace.

The special effects crew included Wah Chang and Gene Warren.

It was originally announced that Price's co-star would be Mark Damon, his co-star from House of Usher.[3] Damon was then replaced by David Frankham.[4]

Henry Hull came out of retirement to appear in the cast.[5]

Vincent Price is reported to have considered the role of Robur as one of his personal favorites.

Proposed Sequel[edit]

According to an article in Filmfax magazine, a sequel to Master of the World, to have been called Stratofin, was reportedly considered by American International Pictures, even to the point that a conceptual model of the Terror was reportedly made. (The article included a picture of the model.) However, those plans were never carried out, possibly due to the manner in which Richard Matheson and his cohorts combined Verne's two original novels, which would have resulted in serious continuity problems from the first film to the second. In any case, the reported conceptual model has not survived.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Film Studio Head to Address Movie Exhibitors Today Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 14 Apr 1961: b10.
  2. ^ HOLLYWOOD CYCLE: Industry Is Gearing for Outer Space As Science-Fiction Takes Over By GLADWIN HILL. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Mar 1961: X9.
  3. ^ FILMLAND EVENTS: Screemwriters Set for 'Barbara Greer' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 Aug 1960: C13.
  4. ^ FILMLAND EVENTS: Newcomer Set for 'Master of World' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Sep 1960: 31.
  5. ^ THE HULL STORY: Henry's Unique: 50 Years in thee Theater and 49 with the Same Wife Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 27 Nov 1960: b22.

External links[edit]