Master Of The World (1961)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/27/17
Cast: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, David Frankham, Vito Scotti

A loose adaptation of Jules Verne's "Master Of The World" and "Robur The Conqueror" that has more in common with Walt Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" (1954) than with Verne's source material. Robur (Vincent Price) is the Captain Nemo of the skies, who has built a magnificent and highly advanced airship with the intent of bringing an end to war and human suffering. Of course, like any mad genius, he uses the threat of global annihilation as his means for achieving world peace. A government scientist named Strock (Charles Bronson), a blustery arms manufacturer (Henry Hull), a beautiful girl (Mary Webster), and the girl's uptight and jealous fiancé (David Frankham) are captured and imprisoned when their curious eyes get too close to Robur's ship. Will they join Robur's idealistic conquest for peace, or will they die trying to stop him?

Unfortunately, the film is a mess, and would be a total loss if not for the charms of Vincent Price, Mary Webster, and character actor Vito Scotti (who plays the ship's fussy chef). Charles Bronson gives an adequate performance, but seems sorely miscast and out of place. The music is bold, adventurous, and complements the spirit of the film, but the visual effects are downright embarrassing. The film opens with quite possibly the worst matte painting I've ever seen, which is supposed to represent a volcanic eruption in Pennsylvania of all places. The model of the Albatross looks decent enough, but it's unconvincingly composited with stock footage of clouds and random aerial photography. The rear projection scenes look terrible and the film uses battle footage lifted from several other films. It's obvious that the film's budget was cutting as many corners as possible, and the end result looks cheap, tacky, and disappointing.