Two from George Pal

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SIGHTS NEVER BEFORE SEEN – Adventure never before experienced! -original tagline for Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1960)

Drives men to madness and murder! When it reaches out for YOU you’ll never stop screaming! original tagline for The Power (1968)

Producer and Director George Pal does not come up much nowadays, but in his day he was an innovator in primarily special effects and, for lack of a better phrase, set design. Most of his movies were in the realm of fantastic out of this world science fiction. He is probably best known for The Time Machine (1960). In addition he was a close friend of both Walt Disney and Walter Lantz. Lantz was the creator of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon and George and Walter were so close that Woody made an appearance somehow in almost all of Pal’s films.

Warner Archives has released two of his lesser films Atlantis, the Lost Continent, and The Power. Neither are among Pal’s better films but they are enjoyable when taken for what they are, pure escapism.

Atlantis, the Lost Continent was made in 1960 immediately following The Time Machine. Unfortunately the film isn’t up the standards of its predecessor.

The plot itself is a fairly typical story of boy rescues girl and returns her to her father, the King. And of course the Island of Atlantis has a rare mineral from which various weapons can be made to take over the world. To those familiar with the film, I did leave out a few points to leave some mystery.

Production values are pretty much as to be expected as for whatever reason this is both on and off screen a very underfunded exercise. There is no real star value, with Sal Ponti and Joyce Taylor taking on the lead roles. Wherever possible, items are recycled into this picture. There is quite a bit of footage from Quo Vadis scattered throughout along with bits of another picture which it familiar to me but I really didn’t worry enough to confirm my suspicions. My bet is that these are a few shots from The Naked Jungle. Some cues in the soundtrack have been lifted verbatim from The Time Machine as well.

Unless you are intimately familiar with Atlantis, you may want to rent or borrow first. Not bad for what it is. Picture quality is pretty much what you’d expect. Good but not great. Very watchable.

Available exclusively at The WB Shop.

The Power from 1968 fares a little better. Production values are still on the light side, and many honestly mistake this one for a TV movie, although it isn’t. Adding to that perception is George Hamilton in the lead role. He’s helped along the way by Suzanne Pleshette, Yvonne DeCarlo, and Michael Rennie (from The Day the Earth Stood Still.) The cast does quite well in a plot that is a bit less structured than most. At the end of the day this becomes a chase movie.

Again, without giving away too much, this one boils down to a duel between two gents with the gift of powerful telekinesis. This is of course more to the story, but I am keeping the plot spoilers to a minimum.

George Pal does a good job with fancy editing and cutting edge (for the day) special effects. There are numerous plot twists and red herrings along the way (perhaps too many). There is also some attempt at humor along the way as well. Unfortunately there is a bit of illogical dialogue along the way.

A surprise highlight is the mystical score by Miklos Rozsa which fits the film to a tee and builds tremendous atmosphere.

Not overly recommended, but for those who are a fan of George Pal, you will want to check this one out. It is better than Atlantis but still a big budget B movie. The transfer is again, nothing overly special, but looks quite nice without restoration. This was a pleasant surprise over what I expected.

Again available at The WB Shop.

I’m not the biggest George Pal fan or of science fiction for the most part, so to be honest their could be some bias here.  Warner Archives does a great jobing in serving smaller niche markets- unfortunately this isn’t my niche.

Review copy provided by Warner Bros. Thanks!

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