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Crack in the World(1965)
Dr. Steven Sorenson plans to tap the geothermal energy of the Earth's interior by means of a thermonuclear device detonated deep within the Earth. Despite dire warnings by fellow scientist Ted Rampian, Dr Sorenson proceeds with the experiment after secretly learning that he is terminally ill. This experiment causes a crack to form and grow within the earth's crust, which threatens to split the earth in two if it is not stopped in time
For more about Crack in the World and the Crack in the World Blu-ray release, see Crack in the World Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 1, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore
Director: Andrew Marton
» See full cast & crew
Crack in the World Blu-ray Review
Talk about an energy crisis.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 1, 2011
Sometimes the ghost in the machine can impart valuable information. The database here at Blu-ray.com initially had Crack in the World pegged in two genres: sci-fi and comedy. Lest anyone accuse us of being ironic, I've amended the specs to indicate Crack in the World is a drama, which is not to say many of you, especially those of you prone to bouts of marathon MST3K viewing, won't find large swaths of Crack in the World full of some of the most deliriously funny comedy ever. Of course, Crack in the World is played seriously—deadly seriously—which only makes it funnier. This kind-of precursor to 2012 posits a scientific experiment gone horribly awry, when Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews) decides blowing up a nuclear armed missile underground in order to release vast amounts of magma will cure the planet's need for energy. Unfortunately the explosion sets a chain of supposedly horrifying calamities into motion that soon threaten (here's where you gasp in awe) the very existence of the Earth. Crack in the World was a low budget flick even in its day, filmed overseas in Spain with a mostly unknown cast, save for Andrews who of course was well past his A-list status in the States. Director Andrew Marton actually may be better remembered as a second unit director (for iconic films like Ben Hur and Cleopatra), but his "first unit" career wasn't exactly a model of A-list projects aside from his contributions to The Longest Day in 1962. With Crack in the World, Marton fashions a film of breathless alacrity and downright absurdity which was most likely near perfect drive-in fare in 1965 for teenagers who more often than not couldn't have cared less what was on that large outdoor screen in the first place.
Crack in the World was a production of Philip Yordan, the expat American who had actually forged a career from the havoc of the blacklist, ghostwriting any number of features for those who were unable to find work themselves under their own names. Yordan assembled an impressive team for Crack in the World, including well regarded special effects creator and director Eugène Lourié. While some of Lourié's work doesn't quite pass muster to modern eyes more accustomed to the shiny perfection of CGI, aside from clunky looking miniatures, a lot of Crack in the World has actually withstood the test of time. The production design is especially impressive, including Sorenson's underground scientific lair, which resembles a kind of combination of something out of an original Star Trek episode crossed with the similar underground lair that was the scientific headquarters of the short-lived Irwin Allen television series The Time Tunnel.
They say that timing is everything, and unfortunately Crack in the World had the misfortune to be released at almost the exact same moment that the real scientific community accepted the theory of plate tectonics, making the film's central thesis of a planet-ruining fissure near impossible. But if that's the criterion by which anyone is ultimately judging Crack in the World, it ignores a wealth of other, just as problematic, material. Despite the improbability of Crack in the World's focal scientific proffer, it's actually in the science that the film comes closest to being believable. The film isn't full of techno-jargon, but it includes a rather real feeling ambience as it portrays working scientists attempting to solve a frightening, out of control problem.
Where the film falls largely flat is in its soap operatic elements, courtesy of Dr. Sorenson's marriage to a much younger scientist named Maggie (Janette Scott). In best Days of Our Lives fashion, Sorenson's assistant Dr. Ted Rampion (Kieron Moore) was once Maggie's lover. (Moore and Scott were married in real life). Rampion is also convinced that Sorenson's experiments are madness (madness, do you hear?) and will result in worldwide calamity. When we find out early in the film that Dr. Stephen Sorenson is terminally ill, it doesn't take a rocket scientist (so to speak) to figure out who's going to end up with whom, nor to discern that, well, Rampion's pretty much on the money with his predictions of gloom and doom. That leaves around 90 minutes for fairly turgid goings-on that finally get us to a foregone conclusion.
Andrews is surprisingly effective as an aging man confronting his own mortality, and he injects some actual humanity in what is otherwise a fairly ludicrous set of situations and interpersonal relationships. While Moore and Scott are certainly photogenic, they have a certain "not ready for prime time" quality which hobbles their performances. In one of the many elements which may strike some as quite funny, Scott's character, identified as a promising scientist in her own right, devolves into a screaming, quivering mass of jelly by the end of the film, not exactly a model of scientific inquiry and objective investigation.
Crack in the World has a small coterie of fans who may have seen it either in its original release or caught it on television when they were still quite young, and who harbor perhaps overly rosy memories of how good the film actually is. The fact is, this is pure B-movie hokum, and if that's what gets your magma spurting (so to speak), you could probably do a lot worse. But on a more objective level, Crack in the World, while fun, is (to pun horribly) no great shakes.
Crack in the World Blu-ray, Video Quality
Crack in the World was released on DVD by Olive Films about a year ago, and the same 35mm print seems to have provided the source element for this new AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. There are both pluses and minuses to this Blu-ray. The print is largely damage free, though occasional white specks, scratches and other relatively small signs of age crop up from time to time. More troubling are some registration and flicker issues, which are especially apparent in the first reel. There are also occasional frame to frame mismatches which give very occasional jerks in an otherwise fluid presentation. There's one rear projection sequence that presents some pretty bad blue flare, and the film also has several interstitial uses of stock footage (including somewhat unbelievably some black and white footage) which has degraded image quality when compared to the rest of the film. Some of the opticals are also understandably overly grainy and dirty looking. The overall transfer is still rather soft looking, much like the DVD, though it's inarguable this release is an uptick from that DVD, especially with regard to saturation, which is quite exemplary a lot of the time. There hasn't been any egregious DNR applied to this release, so there's still a very filmic texture to the proceedings.
Crack in the World Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Despite cranking all of its bombast out in an uncompressed mono LPCM mix, Crack in the World sounds surprisingly spry for its age, and best of all, it still has a good deal of rumble in its low end, offering some nicely robust LFE at several key moments. There's no egregious damage to report on this track, and the mix, while extremely narrow, is well balanced between dialogue, ubiquitous sound effects, and Johnny Douglas' semi-swingin' score. Occasionally there's a bit of conflict between that score and some of the effects, but that's inherent in the original mixdown and not a function of this particular track. Overall, the LPCM mono track sounds great, especially considering its age, and few will have any complaints, other than the lack of surround activity.
Crack in the World Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Zip, zilch, nada, bupkis. At least this disc features a main menu, unlike the many Fox/MGM catalog titles that have recently appeared as either Best Buy or Wal-mart exclusives.
Crack in the World Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's hard to be too critical of Crack in the World, for surely the film never had an outsized ambitions. This is pure popcorn fare, an hour and a half of mindless entertainment with some passably good special effects and enough human interest to maintain audience attention. That said, it is certainly not the masterpiece fans of the film insist it is. It's a relentlessly cheesy affair with some schlock-tastic moments that will no doubt cause the more jaded viewer to burst out into uncontrollable giggles. If you're a fan of the film, this Blu-ray will probably be worth your time, though don't go in expecting miracles from its image or audio quality. The good news here is Olive hasn't fussed much with the transfer, warts and all, so there's no egregious DNR, and the lossless mono track is also a definite plus.
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Crack in the World Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Hannie Caulder From Olive Films in July - April 11, 2011
In an early announcement to retailers, Olive Films have revealed that they will release on Blu-ray Burt Kennedy's Hannie Caulder (1971), starring Raquel Welch, Christopher Lee, Robert Culp, and Ernest Borgnine. Street date is July 5th.
• Olive Films Go Blu - April 6, 2011
Olive Films have announced that they will release Andrew Marton's Crack in the World (1965) on Blu-ray on July 5th. The distributor's catalog contains a number of classic films, many of which are licensed from Paramount Home Entertainment.
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