The Enemy Below 1957

This was one of my favorite model ship movies growing up. It was one of the first movies on which L.B. Abbott supervised the special photographic effects after being made the head of the 20th Century Fox special effects department in 1957. Surprisingly the film does not even get a mention in his very good book covering his career “Special Effects – Wire tape and Rubber band style” published by the American Society of Cinematographers.

The miniature effects are textbook in execution. There is a level of opacity to the underwater shots though possibly still a shade more transparent than you would get with a real submarine underwater. The miniature pyrotechnics are spectacularly effective. You can already see a particular L.B. Abbot style in the photography which matches his subsequent work ranging from Tora Tora Tora to Batman the movie.

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Captain Nemo and the Underwater City 1969

Essentially an odd adaption of Jules Verne’s 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Nautilus is a decent “steampunk” alternative to Disney’s version designed way before the term steampunk was coined. I first became aware of this film from seeing a photo of the model in a studio store room in Raymond Fielding’s classic book Special Effects Cinematography, see below.

Fielding

In 2011 the model was sold at auction and fetched 14 000 US dollars.

10499761_1 10499761_2 10499761_3The underwater miniature effects look like they were shot dry and not in a tank. Small amounts of smoke trail from the tips of the wings, an interesting detail added to the miniature to help make it look like it is streaming silt underwater. A few close up shots suffer from too shallow a depth of field with parts of the model in soft focus. Generally British special effects men have to work across all areas of special effects however of the three credited, Richard Conway became more known for his miniatures work, while George Gibbs was usually associated with mechanical and physical effects and Jack Mills for special effects cinematography. Both Richard Conway and George Gibbs must have been at (or very close to) the start of their feature film special effects careers on this film.

Nautilus_1 Nautilus_at_barrier

Nemo_Lobby_2 Nemo_Lobby_1

 

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