Einstein, Newton, Pasteur …… Dana Andrews?

Well past his leading man days of the 1940’s for 20th Century Fox, a silver haired Andrews is well suited to playing a Nobel Prize winning scientist looking to breakthrough the Earth’s crust using an atomic weapon in order to harness our planet’s inner power and many elements via the core and it’s Magma.

Kind of like drilling for oil only in this case molten hot lava.

Behind a sharp imposing musical score from composer John Douglas and top of the line special effects thanks to Eugene Lourie, Crack In the World proves to be an engaging end of the world thriller helmed by director Andrew Marton.

Andrews is the head scientist of Project Inner Space located in a subterranean cavern that has been dug out where he and a number of colleagues are planning to drop the atomic warhead into a large cavern from the earth’s surface. Situated two miles below the surface, Andrews control center looks as if it’s been lifted from a Bond villain in any number of 007 adventures with the accompanying men in white smocks carrying clipboards wandering around aimlessly.

“You’ll save the world or destroy it.”

While Andrews is confident his plan will work, his chief second, Kieron Moore, believes that damaging the the hard surface between the earth’s crust and it’s inner core will have catastrophic effects on the planet bringing forth “mass destruction on an apocalyptic scale.” Moore tells as much to Alexander Knox who represents the heads of state that will make the final decision on Andrews’ beliefs.

Too late because the weapon has been fired and what at first appears to be a successful launch with lava boiling to the surface like a newly tapped oil well soon turns to disaster with earthquakes and tidal waves destroying nearby cities and small islands. Time has proven Moore to be correct which only adds to the tension between the two. The other being the fact that Andrews is married to an attractive and much younger scientist played by Janette Scott who just happens to be the ex-lover of Moore.

Only in the movies.

Time for the men of science to go into damage control with Moore taking center stage as the physical hero of our story while Dana lags in the background of his cavernous laboratory. It’s also time for the special effects department led by Mr. Lourie to shine and leave a lasting impressing on yours truly having the seen the film multiple times on television at an early age. There are times when the film has that “TOHO” look with effects that are very reminiscent of those brought to the Godzilla series by Eiji Tsuburaya.

Among the fine effects are a deep fissure on the ocean floor, lava flows and a train wreck. Perhaps the best effects in the film come when Moore and two others attempt to descend into the mouth of another volcano to drop a secend nuclear war head deep into the earth’s outer layer in order to cause a second explosion that will hopefully cause the now miles long crack come to a halt.

You’ll have to tune in yourself to find out if the two scientists have devised a way to save mankind from his own destruction.

There is much to recommend here in this long time favorite of mine. Aside from the special effects it offers Dana Andrews one of his better roles from the latter period of his career even if it’s in a genre piece. Had the film been made twenty years earlier he’d have easily fit into the role that Moore was assigned here. Incredibly the actor had EIGHT films in theaters in 1965. Along with Crack in the World he appeared in The Satan Bug, In Harm’s Way, Brainstorm, Town Tamer, Spy In Your Eye, The Loved One and Battle of the Bulge. Of the 8 titles I’m still looking to see Spy In Your Eye.

Costars Kieron Moore and Janette Scott are reuniting just two years after having starred together in the cult favorite, The Day of the Triffids. They’d again team up for 1967’s Bikini Paradise which proved to be Miss Scott’s final film as she retired following her marriage to Mel Torme. Moore drifted off to television briefly before retiring himself in 1974.

The director of this enjoyable sci-fi effort that predates the numerous end of the world features we’ve seen over the past 30 plus years, Andrew Marton, was bouncing around between TV and feature films by this point in his career. Early on he helmed a trio of enjoyable Stewart Granger films in the early 1950’s, King Solomon’s Mines, The Wild North and Green Fire.

If you’re looking to try your luck to see if Dana and company survive the final reel of Crack in the World you might be able to locate a copy on DVD or blu ray thanks to a release from Olive Films a few years ago. Original Half Sheet not included. And let’s remember, “Thank God It’s Only a Motion Picture!”