Movie Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

BooneThumbby Brad Nelson
Who would have figured that a grueling journey to the center of the earth would involve Pat Boone crooning while playing a concertina?

But that’s just a quibble, a sign of my obstinate refusal to suspend disbelief, at least in the early going. Who wouldn’t take a concertina as standard issue on such a long and arduous journey over boulders and down steep cliffs?

But that’s not all…

Before we descend to the core, let’s check our inventory: Climbing ropes. Check. Food. Check. Compass. Check. A guide who can’t speak English. Check. Accordion (already mentioned). Check. Pet goose. Check. At least two people who have never climbed so much as an escalator. Check.


What? A pet goose? Well, at least you can eat the goose, but the only reason to bring an accordion along to the center of the earth is so that Pat Boone can relieve (or cause?) the boredom between episodes of falling rocks and being attacked by giant magnified lizards. Let’s just hope they don’t come across any cannibals, although that might be a Boone. (Yuck yuck)

And if you’ve been wondering where the Indiana Jones big rolling boulder gimmick came from, Spielberg ripped it off from this movie. Still, it’s a good shtick. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

James Mason leads a motley crew (not the Mötley Crüe . . . they brought just the concertina with them) to the center of the earth where he eventually finds, quite
LIzardThumb surprisingly, the center of the earth. In between times, Mason finds time to be kidnapped, to discover a murder, to get captured by that same murderer (it’s crowded down there on the way to the center of the earth), and to find a pretty lady who decides she’d like to take a jaunt along with them to the earth’s core. (What does one wear on such a trip?). I guess it’s the fashionable place to be that time of year.

But, really, the movie is not as goofy as all that. Well . . . yes, it really is. But once the story gets going, it’s a fun romp through Carlsbad Caverns. Yes, you’re thinking that the chances of three complete climbing neophytes (and one Icelandic guide) making it to the center of the earth are pretty slim. But you’d be wrong. And I don’t know why, but you would be.

All in all, except perhaps for the goose, this is charming, harmless, Saturday-matinee fun. Or maybe the goose helps. I don’t know. But I can give it 2.6 triple-GooseThumbstripes out of 5. It might be worth it just to see Pat Boone blown out of an erupting volcano. You . . . you light up my life. [Sorry, wrong Boone.] Oh, and if seeing Pat Boone without his shirt turns you on, well, there you go. He must have just lost out to Sly Stallone for the Rambo pictures. • (1749 views)

Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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4 Responses to Movie Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

  1. the krell says:

    If memory serves, I would watch this movie endlessly on channel 9’s Million Dollar Movie. As a kid I loved this movie. For reasons unknown the scene when Boone gets sucked through the salt sticks in my mind. As an adult I still enjoy watching it. Though I still can’t figure how you travel close to 4000 miles up a volcano and merely wind up naked in a tree by a convent.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yeah, it’s just one of those campy old films that is a hoot to watch. The same with movies such as “One Million Years B.C,” although I need to take my blood pressure medication before seeing Rachel Welch traipse around in that animal-skin bikini. Holy smokes.

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