City Beneath the Sea (1971 film)

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City Beneath the Sea
Directed by Irwin Allen
Produced by Irwin Allen
Sidney Marshall
Written by Story: Irwin Allen
Screenplay: John Meredyth Lucas
Starring Stuart Whitman
Rosemary Forsyth
Robert Colbert
Burr DeBenning
Robert Wagner
Richard Basehart
Music by Richard LaSalle
Cinematography Kenneth Peach
Edited by James Baiotto
Motion Pictures International
Kent Productions, Inc.
Distributed by Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release date
  • January 25, 1971 (1971-01-25)
Running time
98 min
Country United States
Language English

City Beneath the Sea is a 1971 science fiction television film and television pilot for a proposed series by Irwin Allen.[1] It started as a conceptual 10-minute demo reel as a means to sell the plot and concept to television studios. The concept was not bought initially and a few years later Allen produced a two-hour telefilm for NBC. The two-hour movie again failed to gain the response necessary to be picked up as a series, but has remained a cult favorite amongst sci-fi and Irwin Allen fans. In the UK it was shown theatrically in 1972 as One Hour to Doomsday. It was released on DVD as part of the Warner Archive Collection.


On June 12, 2053, a futuristic oil rig explodes somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Retired Admiral Michael Matthews (Whitman) is busy in his New York City office, administering various engineering projects in different parts of the world. He receives a phone call from the President of the United States (Basehart). After much debate and against his will, he is reactivated at his old rank as administrator of Pacifica, the underwater city. His escort, Commander Woody Patterson (Colbert), arrives. They take off via flying submarine for Pacifica. Matthews regrets returning to the city, due to a past tragedy that occurred there, and apologizes because his return means that Patterson will be forcibly demoted without cause. The two officers discuss the ongoing transfer of gold from Fort Knox to Pacifica, a project that began under Matthews' previous administration six months previously and is now nearing completion. The entirety of the United States gold reserve will be secured at Pacifica within 17 days.

The original concept[edit]

Allen filmed the original concept for City Beneath The Sea as a sci-fi vehicle set in the year 2068. The proposed cast consisted of Glenn Corbett, Lloyd Bochner, Lawrence Montaigne, Francine York, Cecile Ozorio and a young but experienced James Brolin. The plot concerned the destruction of an undersea drilling project that could possibly threaten the undersea city of Triton. Triton is a thriving underwater city run by General Kevin Matthews (Corbett) with his associates Lia Holmes (York), scientific advisor Dr. Raymond Aguila (Montaigne) — an amphibian/human hybrid who can breathe underwater — and his head of security Choo Choo Kino (Ozorio). Their lead engineer Temple (Bochner) is scheming to put an end to an underwater drilling project, which is spearheaded by the US government and run by Matthews' team. The finale involves Matthews confronting Temple on the project's surface platform as it is destroyed in flames.

The original concept was never aired. It remained unseen by the public until the release of the DVD The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen in 1995, where it was included as a special feature.

1971 telefilm[edit]

The concept was later revisited by Allen and seasoned TV screenwriter John Meredyth Lucas in the form of a 2-hour movie of the week. The story combined a natural disaster story with high-stakes crime drama and futuristic adventure. In addition, many props and models from Allen's previous scifi series made appearances. Stuart Whitman would play the lead as the city's administrator Admiral Michael Matthews with Rosemary Forsyth, Robert Colbert, Burr DeBenning and Robert Wagner as supporting cast. Richard LaSalle composed the music to the film. The movie became a cult favorite amongst sci-fi and Irwin Allen fans,[citation needed] but again failed to be picked up as a series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dennis Fischer (17 June 2011). Science Fiction Film Directors, 1895-1998. McFarland. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-0-7864-8505-5. 

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