It’s a wonder that baby boomers don’t have constant nightmares after growing up in the 1960s. Every day, you didn’t know whether the world was coming to an end. Growing up in Miami during the Cuban missile crisis, I lived in constant fear thanks to the classroom drills that sent us under our desks with images of mushroom clouds in our heads.
Then there were all those doomsday movies such as “Fail Safe” and “Dr. Strangelove“ where error or insanity sent the missiles flying. And the end-of-the-world fantasies went beyond the geopolitical themes with fare such as 1965’s “Crack in the World,” whose DVD debut hit stores just this week.
It’s a great little popcorn flick shot in Spain by director Andrew Marton. Dana Andrews plays Dr. Sorenson, a terminally ill veteran scientist who wants to drill a hole into the Earth’s core and use its energy for the good of all mankind. Because traditional drilling methods have failed, he wants to detonate a thermonuclear device to get there. A hunky fellow scientist (Kieron Moore), who just happens to be the former squeeze of Sorenson’s much younger scientist wife (Janette Scott), believes the experiment would crack the planet.
But Dr. Sorenson goes ahead with the bomb, and soon the world is on the verge of splitting into two. The special effects are fairly good for their time, and there’s certainly plenty of suspense in the final half, though Dr. Sorenson starts channeling some unironic Strangelove as his illness spreads. Worse, there is absolutely no chemistry between Andrews and Scott, who was once married to Mel Tormé.
The legendary Eugene Lourie, who was the production designer on several of Jean Renoir classics including “Grand Illusion” and “Rules of the Game” and director of the 1953 sci-fi classic “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” was the production designer. It’d be nice to know more about his contributions but, unfortunately, there are no extras on the disc.
— Susan King
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