(director: Andrew Marton; screenwriters: Julian Halevy (Zimet)/Jon Manchip White/story by White; cinematographer: Manuel Berenguer; editor: Derek Parsons; music: John Douglas; cast:  Dana Andrews (Dr. Stephen Sorenson),  Janette Scott (Dr. Maggie Sorenson),  Kieron Moore (Dr. Ted Rampion),  Alexander Knox (Sir Charles Eggerston), Peter Damon (John Masefield), Gary Lasdun (Markov), Jim Gillen (Rand), Mike Steen (Steele), Tod Martin (Simpson); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Bernard Glasser, Lester A. Sansom; Paramount; 1965)

“An engaging B film doomsday scenario sci-fi drama, one with a great menacing premise.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An engaging B film doomsday scenario sci-fi drama, one with a great menacing premise. But it turns out to be only a guilty pleasure because of its bad science. It’s adequately helmed by Hungarian-born director Andrew Marton (“It Happened in Athens”/”The Thin Red Line”), and is based on a story by Jon Manchip White. It’s cleverly frightening in a nightmarish way despite a sluggish screenplay written by Julian Halevy. Yet it’s stylish and the special effects are very good–making it seem better than your typical sci-fi film of the ’50s and ’60s. It should be noted that this disaster film predated the spate of such films that started in the 1970s, like Earthquake (1974).

Dr. Stephen Sorensen (Dana Andrews), an aging scientist dying of cancer, is head of Project Inner Space, whose team are holding a meeting in a remote area of Africa, in a facility miles below the surface. His main backer on the project, Sir Charles Eggerston (Alexander Knox), shows up to support Sorensen’s grand plan though risky it will be be carried out for the sake of science. The plan is to expose the earth’s core (magma) as a new source of energy, by blasting into the earth’s surface.

Sorensen’s wife, the geologist Maggie (Janette Scott), and his associate, geologist Ted Rampion (Kieron Moore), advice against this dangerous experiment. Nevertheless, the know it all, Sorensen, explodes a powerful atomic bomb. It works briefly, as the blast cracks the rock layer surrounding the magma. But the blasts soon cause earthquakes along the volatile Macebo Fault. To the rescue come Maggie and Rampion, who scheme to detonate another bomb to restore the order. The second explosion is set off inside a volcano, but the crack created by the first explosion merely reverses its course, threatening to split the earth. Sorensen tricks Rampion and Maggie into leaving him behind and he sacrifices his life to detonate the bomb on the volcano, and thereby everyone else escapes just as a large wedge of earth flies into space to form another moon.

We’re left to wonder if it means the end of the world as we know it or a new step in the progressive evolution of the world. In any case, I enjoyed it despite the confusing ending and all the hokum.

Crack in the