The Return of Captain Nemo

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The Return of Captain Nemo
The Return of Captain Nemo FilmPoster.jpeg
A poster bearing the film's theatrical title: The Amazing Captain Nemo
Directed by Alex March
Paul Stader
Produced by Irwin Allen
Arthur Weiss
Written by Jules Verne(novel)
Larry Alexander
Robert Bloch
Robert C. Dennis
Norman Katkov
William Keys
Mann Rubin
Preston Wood
Starring José Ferrer
Music by Richard LaSalle
Cinematography Lamar Boren
Release date(s)
  • March 8, 1978 (1978-03-08)
Running time 102mins
Country United States
Language English

The Return of Captain Nemo was a 1978 science fiction TV movie directed by Alex March and Paul Stader, and loosely based on characters and settings from Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It was written by six writers including Robert Bloch.

During naval exercises in 1978 Captain Nemo (played by José Ferrer) is found in suspended animation aboard his submarine Nautilus beneath the Pacific Ocean. Revived by members of a modern day US Government agency, Nemo is persuaded to rescue United States interests and in so doing battle Professor Cunningham, a typical mad scientist played by Burgess Meredith.

Not originally aired as a movie, it was broken into three parts, expanded somewhat with about 45 minutes of additional footage over the three episodes to become a very brief action series. Sometimes described as a "miniseries", it was intended to be the first story-arc in an ongoing serial. Ratings were dismal, and the series never materialized.

Instead this proved to be Irwin Allen's final foray into weekly science fiction television.

The film was a co-production between Irwin Allen Productions and Warner Bros. Television. It was distributed by CBS Television but was also released theatrically as The Amazing Captain Nemo.


Actor Role
José Ferrer Captain Nemo
Burgess Meredith Prof. Waldo Cunningham
Mel Ferrer Dr. Robert Cook
Horst Buchholz King Tibor
Tom Hallick Tom Franklin
Burr DeBenning Jim Porter
Lynda Day George Kate
Warren Stevens Miller
Med Flory Tor
Anthony McHugh Radio Operator
Randolph Roberts Helmsman
Richard Angarola Trog
Art Balinger
Harvey Fisher
Anthony Geary Bork
Peter Jason
Jerry Maren
Stephen Powers Lloyd
Yale Summers Sirak
David Westberg


The story opens with a transmission received by the White House from the renegade Professor Cunningham, who threatens Washington DC with nuclear destruction from a missile fired from his submarine Raven. His price is a substantial sum in gold bullion.

During US Naval exercises, two Navy officers, Porter and Franklin while detached from their scuba reconnaissance team happen upon the submerged Nautilus, trapped under a reef since a seismic event dating back to 1877. Once on board they find an intact but inactive vessel, and the cryogenically preserved Captain Nemo, the sole survivor of the original crew. Subsequent events prompt the newly revived Nemo to offer his services in exchange for repairs to his ship, including the pursuit and defeat of Cunningham's Raven and its crew of mechanised androids. The plot trades heavily on the concept of Nautilus being constructed years ahead of its time, even possessing laser weaponry, defensive force fields and a Nuclear Reactor constructed 127 years before the events of the story take place.

Sadly the quality of the script did not match the calibre of the actors; in order to fit the story into the specified serial timeframe (including commercial breaks), the plot had been pared down to the bare bones. This resulted in a two dimensional comic strip that compared poorly with contemporary science fiction based on the character of Nemo. The basic plot of Nuclear Extortion suffered from being both heavily edited and resolved in the first episode; indeed the same combat scene of a shootout on board the Raven appeared twice in the series. The final production for theatre release was condensed into 102 minutes and marketed as The Amazing Captain Nemo, and only served to highlight the inherent defects. Despite this the production was nominated for several awards.


In 1978 the movie received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Any Area of Creative Technical Crafts. These were for Frank Van der Veer (optical effects) and L.B. Abbott (special photographic effects).[1]


  • Wingrove, David. Science Fiction Film Source Book (Longman Group Limited, 1985)
  1. ^ "Advanced Primetime Awards Search". The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 

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