MASTER OF THE WORLD
   Film (1961). AIP. Dir William Witney, starring Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster. Screenplay Richard MATHESON, based (not very closely) on Robur le conquerant (1886; trans as The Clipper of the Clouds 1887; vt Robur the Conqueror 1887) and Maitre du monde (1904; transas Master of the World 1914) by Jules VERNE. 104 mins. Colour.
   MOTW owes more to the Disney version of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954) - which it clearly imitates - than to the two Verne novels, with the Albatross, a very light clipper ship with propellers on the masts, substituting for a submarine. Robur (Price), a warped idealist, uses his invention to enforce peace by making war on war, bombarding opposing armies from the air; he kidnaps as witnesses a US special agent (Bronson), an arms manufacturer (Hull) and a young couple. The film was more lavish than most AIPproductions (usually very-low-budget exploitation movies), but most of the money went on the elaborate flying ship. The travelogue aspect of the film is achieved largely through library footage, some of it wildly anachronistic: a supposed aerial shot of 1860s London is from the 1944 film of Shakespeare's Henry V. A melodramatic, one-note script by Matheson (usually better than this) and flat direction weaken the film, but itremains watchable if silly.
   JB/PN

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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