City Beneath The Sea (1971)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/8/16
Director: Irwin Allen
Cast: Stuart Whitman, Robert Wagner, Robert Colbert, Rosemary Forsyth, Susana Miranda, Joseph Cotten

A delightfully corny science fiction adventure that takes place in the underwater city of Pacifica in the year 2053. Admiral Mike Matthews (Stuart Whitman) is called back to Pacifica by the United States President to oversee a critical mission to transfer all of the gold in Fort Knox to the underwater facility, along with some extremely dangerous radioactive material. As if that weren't bad enough, a deadly asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and heading straight for the city. Incredulously, at the exact same time that all of this is happening, Mike's brother Brett (Robert Wagner) is planning to steal the gold and take over the world (or whatever is left of it). Poor Mike has to deal with impossible schedules, stubborn scientists, evacuating an entire city on incredibly short notice, sabotage, a traitorous brother, and former friends who still bear a grudge over a previous incident.

Director Irwin Allen originally tried to launch a TV series based on this setting in 1969, but the networks weren't interested. This TV movie was Allen's second attempt at a pilot episode, but it also failed to generate much interest. It's an entertaining adventure that's full of bravado and melodramatic clichés. Stuart Whitman makes a good level-headed leader, while a smarmy Robert Wagner fully embraces his role as an unscrupulous bad guy. Rosemary Forsyth offers some romantic tension, but she comes across as uncomfortable and awkwardly out of place in the production. The real eye candy appears in the form of Susana Miranda, whose sleek hair and warm skin tone provide an excellent complement to her short-hemmed futuristic fashions. The visual effects are pretty tacky, as you might expect, but the set design is colorful and interesting. Of course, the science is completely absurd, but it's just a framework to support the human drama. Not a bad way to waste an evening if you're in the mood for harmlessly cheesy sci-fi fun.