Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Movie Synopsis courtesy Voyage fan D.K. Henderson
Layout and design, Michael Bailey.
     The Voyage feature opens with Seaview’s unforgettable, classic arctic breach.
Irwin Allen knew how to grab our attention even if doing so required what would normally be an emergency maneuver, certainly not one to stage with civilian guests aboard.
Classic Arctic Breach.

      Referred to by some in the media as ‘Nelson's Folly’, Seaview is undergoing final tests under the ice.  Guests on board include Admiral B.J. Crawford (Ret.) of the Bureau of Marine Exploration, Dr. Susan Hiller, who is studying the reactions of men under stress and confinement, and Congressman Parker, who believes that Seaview is a waste of money and seems to be looking for evidence to that effect.  "You have an expensive toy here, Admiral," he says, "though it's suitable for sightseeing."  Nelson takes none of this lying down.  When Parker breaks his pencil lead, the Admiral smiles, hands him another and says, "Try this one Congressman.  Two Ss in progress."

Visitors in the nose.
Cathy Connors grooves to  Chip Romano's wild horn playing.
Commodore Emory gives his pet shark Bessy a walk.

     Nelson and Crane conduct a tour of the observation nose with its transparent herculite* ports, the control room, radio shack, Seaview’s unique on-board shark tank, sick bay and the crew's mess, where Lee Crane’s fiancé, Lieutenant Cathey Connors gyrates to Romano’s (Frankie Avalon's) groovy horn playing.  Then it’s on to the missile room.  That about covers the major sets -- the tour complete Nelson informs Washington that Seaview is diving under the ice, and will be on radio silence for 96 hours.

     A scene between Dr. Hiller and Connors, reveals that Lee Crane was the youngest submarine captain in the Navy--but he is apparently giving up the sea to move inland to a ranch with Connors.  The conversation is interrupted when Ice smashes down from the surface.  Seaview crash dives out of range, then surfaces through crimson waves to the sight of a flaming sky.  
Yes, the sky is certainly on fire.
The sky's on fire!

     Nelson and company pile up to the sub’s open bridge and Admiral Crawford proclaims, “The sky’s on fire!” Back in the control room, radio contact with Washington (DC) reveals that 50 hours previously, the Van Allen radiation belt ignited, apparently from impact from a meteor and that the United Nations has called a scientific conference in New York.  (Don’t contemplate the science…we’re in Irwin’s world.)  The temperature is a blazing 135 degrees.  Meanwhile, a rescue team retrieves civilian scientist Miguel Alvarez and his terrier from the ice.   Crane is adamant they check for further survivors, but Nelson insists there’s no time: "If we waste any time at all here, there may be no survivors anywhere in the world."

      Breaking television reports confirm that major fires scourge the earth, crops are drying up, masses are dying. (Note--the voice narrating the TV footage is Irwin Allen's.)  Nelson, Emory, and Crawford brainstorm in the Admiral’s quarters for over twenty-four hours.  "They haven't eaten nothing but coffee and pencils in all that time," Cookie observes.  The group finally emerges with a plan the Admiral believes will save the world. 

Arriving in New York, Nelson and company rush to an emergency UN security council meeting. The Admiral opens his remarks dramatically: "Ladies and gentlemen, this planet is impaled on a roasting spit.  Slowly but inevitably being seared and blistered by the fire in the sky.  If the Van Allen Belt continues to burn, the world will burn with it."  It is revealed that life as we know it will cease when the temperature reaches 175 degrees.   It’s going up two degrees a day, which leaves the world about three weeks of life.  Nelson and Emory proceed to reveal the Admiral’s plan: an atomic missile, fired on August 29 at 4 pm, latitude 15 N, longitude 145 E (the Marianas) will cause the Van Allen. belt to explode away from the Earth and extinguish.

A hot time in the old town today!
Entering New York Harbor.
My plan will work!
My Plan will work!
Zucco imparts a piece of his mind.
The Admiral's plan is sucicidal insanity!

     They have 16 days and 3 hours to get to the location and do the job.  Top scientist, Dr. Zucco, vehemently disagrees, is convinced that the belt will burn itself out at 173 degrees--which is calculated to occur on August 30.  If he’s wrong, it will be too late for Nelson's plan to work and the world is toast.  Faced with lopsided opposition, Nelson, Emory and Connors cut and run, losing Crawford and the congressman in the confused melee.   As Nelson notes, only the President can give him his running orders.

Nelson & Company beat feet back to Seaview

      Back aboard Seaview, Nelson orders a crash dive.  Crane objects.  Nelson allows a 15 second warning, but the police don’t heed it. A horrified Crane obeys Nelson's orders and the security men wind up in the drink.   

    Nelson tries to put a positive spin on the fact that his guests are now stuck on board. "As I remember," he tells Dr. Hiller, "your research project was men under stress.  You couldn't have picked a better laboratory."  He shifts his attention to Alvarez.   "Glad to see you up and about, Mr. Alvarez.  Sorry you didn't get ashore, but I'm sure we'll be able to find something for you to do."  Alvarez pets his dog and shrugs.  "Don't worry about me, Admiral.  Man must accept what is ordained."  It's a fatalism that will grow in scope, and increasingly bug Crane through the remainder of the film.

      25 hours later, the temperature is up to 141.2 degrees.  News reports indicate more devastation--floods, droughts, disease, heavy fog.  Nelson orders a news blackout for the sake of morale.  Again, Crane disagrees.  The captain soon catches Alvarez preaching his fatalism in Seaview’s mess and orders him to keep away from the crew.

Hunting for the transatlantic cable.      Unable to reach Washington by radio, Nelson detours to tap in to an undersea telephone cable.  A diving party including Crane, Romano and Alvarez goes outside the sub to locate the cable, and in the process, a giant squid attacks and Crane is saved, interestingly enough, by Alvarez.  They manage a temporary connection to London--only to find that all communication with the U.S. has been severed for 35 hours and London evacuated.

     Nelson makes the decision to follow through with his plan.  They have 14 days to get halfway around the world.  Crane meets Dr. Hiller in Sickbay and sees the first of several psychological casualties.  Crewman George Young is understandable--he's a new father and is only on his second tour of duty--but veteran engineer Lieutenant Hodges has also been affected.  Then, the generators go out--it will take hours to repair them. Crane wants to heave to, but Nelson insists that they keep going.  Without radar or sonar, they are traveling blind.

     Connors encounters Alvarez in the nose.  He mentions that he had been destined to become a priest, but had had too many questions.  Now, after his experience out on the ice, he feels that his questions have all been answered. Meanwhile, lacking sonar, Seaview blunders into a mine field, and it is clear that Alvarez will not call a warning.   Connors does so, but it's too late--a mine line fouls on the nose searchlight casing.  The mini-sub must be sent out to cut it loose.   Crewman Gleason volunteers and intimidates young Jimmy Smith into accompanying him.  The mine is cut free.  It strikes another mine and explodes, destroying the mini-sub.  
What about your poor doggie.  You want her to die too?  You men are all alike.
Look out for them mines!

Young Jimmie Smith, thy doom awaits thee.
The minisub heads forward
Mouse-over for kaboom!

     Commodore Emory and Connors both attend the admiral, but he brushes off their concern.  The generators come back on--hours earlier than expected.  Called to Sickbay, they find that Hodges has committed suicide.  A typed note indicates that he had sabotaged the generators, which led to the deaths of Smith and Gleason.  Crane confronts Nelson over the increasing stress in the crew.  Nelson pulls out a death threat that he had found in his cabin--but the typing is different from Hodges' note, suggesting different people are involved.  Nelson orders security tightened--everyone is suspect.

      Dr. Hiller intercepts Crane and suggests that Nelson is showing classic signs of stress, including delusions of persecution.  The death threat had been typed on the machine in the admiral's cabin--perhaps by the admiral himself.  Connors discovers a fire in Nelson's cabin; Nelson is rescued.

While they are fighting the fire, Emory points out that the "smoke" coming from the ventilation system is actually a gas.
They surface in order to ventilate the sub.
Crew on deck for a breath of fresh air.

     Nearly everyone comes out on the hull for fresh air, and they spot a derelict vessel.  A team including Kowski investigates and finds no one alive.                                   

Back on Seaview, Kowski Reports what they've seen: "Dead men on a dead ship.  Ain't it about time we go home?"  His request sounds more like a demand.  Crane notes that would be mutiny.

  They're dead.  All dead.   Dead men on a dead ship.

That would be mutiny!
Crane notes Kowski's demands would be mutiny.

Confrontation between Admiral and Captain.
Nelson tells crane he'd prefer a smaller loyal crew.
       The derelict ship's log indicates that they were four days out of Honolulu.  A newspaper found on board reveals that the U.N. has ordered Seaview stopped at all costs.  They are now fugitives.  Preferring a small, loyal crew to a full, mutinous one, Nelson offers to allow any one who wants to leave to do so--he will provide them with supplies.  Crane protests that they will need a full crew, but is overruled.  Nelson orders Dr. Jamieson to accompany the Sickbay patients, rather than the civilian Dr. Hiller, probably because Jameison’s crew, and the ship’s voyage will likely be perilous, if not fatal.

      Alvarez elects to stay on the Seaview--he can die there as well as any place else.  Crane lodges a formal protest against Nelson’s actions, pointing out that a cigar was found in Nelson's cabin--implying that the fire was an accident, not attempted murder. (This, of course, doesn't explain the gas in the ventilation system.)  Nelson notes it couldn’t have been his cigar—he’d run out of cigars.
Connors confronts Crane and defends the admiral.  Crane counters with the growing list of incidents involving Nelson.  He’s been studying the protocols of relieving a superior officer of command.

     August 29, 3:45 pm. Temperature is 172.04 degrees.  The missile is ready for firing.  Emory’s in sickbay, having been nipped by a shark. (Perhaps Bessie is stressing out, too.)  Romano is also there, resting on Dr. Hiller's orders.  Nelson accuses him of goldbricking, and after a distinctly insolent response, slaps him.  It's the last straw for Crane.    He prepares to take Nelson into custody--and abort the missile launch. Connors attempts to defend the admiral, but Crane is having none of it and orders her to her quarters.  Crane confronts Nelson in the nose just as a U.N. sub finds them. Ignoring Seaview’s signal that the missile launch is aborted, The U.N. sub attacks.  Romano rushes back on duty.   !!!!

     On Nelson’s suggestion, Crane orders Seaview deep.  The U.N. sub, despite its shallower crush depth, blindly follows, and the resulting implosion causes minor damage to Seaview.  Before they can catch their breath, a giant octopus attacks. Crane quickly orders a charge through the hull, which detaches the creature.

Does that tickle?

      Still another complication--the reactors fail. Crane rushes off to check on this.  He encounters Dr. Hiller on the planking that crosses Bessy’s shark tank--her badge indicating a fatal dose of radiation--and realizes that she is the saboteur.  Another lurch of the Seaview knocks Crane out--and Dr. Hiller into the water.

      Nelson has switched to auxiliary power and notes that the temperature has reached 173.2 degrees of schedule. The belt shows no sign of burning out.  They have 10 minutes to get into position for the launch. (Sure packed a heck of a lot of action into five minutes!)

I have a bomb!

Don't fire the missile, Admiral!

Crane  advances with the manual timer.

     The final complication: Alvarez pulls out a bomb and refuses to allow the missile to be launched.
Connors and Emory locate Crane.  Connors is ordered back to her quarters (natch!) and Crane suits up to go outside the sub with a magnetic primer and set the missile off manually.

Dancing  on deck.
Crane is OK.
       Nelson spots him on the monitor, and holds Alvarez's attention to give Crane time.  Crane slaps on the manual launch time, The missile fires, Alvarez is disarmed, and the Van Allen belt is ripped away in a spectacular display.  Seaview surfaces, and Crane is found clinging to the hull.  There is general reconciliation all around.  Seaview heads for home under blue skies and fluffy clouds.

Seaview sails into the blue.

*From the Theodore Sturgeon movie novelization.  No glass with the dimensions of Seaview's observation deck ports could possibly withstand the pressure found at anywhere near 4,000 feet below the surface. 

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