It's..... The happiest blog on earth


I'm thinking of a movie that starred Peter Lorre and Kirk Douglas. Here's a hint....
There is hope for the future. And when the world is ready for a new and better life all this will someday come to pass. In God's good time.
Captain Nemo's last words.

I was eight years old when I first saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. At that age I didn't realize it ended with sea-man Ned Land witnessing a 19th-century nuclear explosion. Ned's rescue meant the professor's journal goes down with Captain Nemo's sinking submarine, the Nautilus. "Perhaps you did humanity a favor," the professor says philosophically.

It's interesting to reflect that the movie was made at the dawn of the nuclear era -- telling the story of a tortured soul who'd wanted to keep his knowledge of atomic physics from all of humankind.

Parts of the movie are laughable. Over a dozen crew-men are lining up, pulling axes and harpoons off the rack, because -- they have to dislodge the giant squid clinging to their bumper. In serious, hushed tones, the Captain warns the crew of its ferocious tenacity. I'm sorry, you reach a point where you break out laughing when you hear the words: "Giant squid."

Recently "The Friday Five" asked what five movies you'd like to have if shipwrecked on an island. I was embarrased to say this G-rated Disney fare would've been one of them. It's got what I call a Technicolor plot -- a melodramatic travelogue where every character is an overdrawn caricature. But the aimless storyline, the lack of any warmth between the four leads -- just leaves more space for the viewer's own unscripted responses.

There's the awe at being undersea in a crazy spiked submarine. The inexorable dread as it sinks uncontrollably. The pageant of humanity -- the prison camp, the ocean-floor funeral, the anonymous warships attacking. Inconsolable hatred. Kelp farms. Drinking pure alcohol from a beaker. Bad stunts with a seal.

I enjoyed reflecting on how much the world has changed -- since Jules Verne, since Disneyland. Since Walt Disney's all-American optimism. Since I first saw this movie 25 years ago....

Anticipating my eventual shipwreck, I bought this movie for $3 in the bargain bin of a video store. Video stores are shucking their tapes for DVDs -- so it's reached a point where instead of renting a movie, it's cheaper just to purchase it.