With the earth threatened by a blazing radiation belt and the global temperature rising by two degrees each day, the inventor of a new nuclear submarine – Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) – must make a difficult decision if the world is to be saved.
Accounting for $400,000 of the picture’s budget, the glass-fronted nuclear submarine Seaview went on to star in its own TV series following its exploits here, as it fires its Polaris missiles into the Van Allen radiation belt and saves the earth from a meltdown.
The Commander of the sub, Captain Lee Crane (Robert Sterling) is moved to doubt the admiral’s sanity after a series of sabotage attempts and is about to clap him in irons when the saboteur is unmasked.
The goal is achieved, the sky turns from red to blue and everyone goes home happy as the mercury drops back to normal.
Joan Fontaine is totally out of her depth (no pun intended) as Dr Susan Hiller, but Peter Lorre and the rest of the supporting cast – including teen favourites Frankie Avalon and Barbara Eden – are splendid.
Co-writer/producer/director Irwin Allen went on to become the king of the disaster movie in the early 1970s, as the creative force behind such films as The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974).
Admiral Harriman Nelson
Dr Susan Hiller
Commodore Lucius Emery
Capt Lee Crane