Journey to the Center of the Earth
1959. 20th Century Fox, Color, Aspect Ratio 2.35 : 1, 132 minutes, Not Rated
Release Date: December 16, 1959
Journey to the Center of the Earth is available at Amazon.com on DVD and VHS.
Movie Synopsis: An old-fashioned fantasy-adventure, in which scientists trek inside to the Earths core and back again. Along the way, they find giant mushrooms, dinosaurs, and enormous spiders in their amazing underground journey.
Cast: James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Thayer Dadid, Alan Napier
Director: Henry Levin
Thoughts on the Movie:
Now this is the kind of movie that we loved to see as kids in mid-20th century America: an adventure in a kind of place that you knew youd never go to and never experience. And it was special effects way before CGI got into the act. But the truth is, you can go to this placeCarlsbad Cavernsand you can stand in the very same place where many of the scenes in this movie were shot. And you can also bask in the extreme wonder of nature while youre there.
When I was a little girl, my Daddy told me about when he went to Carlsbad Caverns. He said once youre down deep inside, far below the surface of the Earth, they turn off the lights to show you how dark is is down there. And he said is was the most pitch black dark you can imagine. That did it for me: Ive always been afraid of the dark, so I never wanted to actually visit this famous national park... but dont let Daddys story keep you from going (Im sure it wont). As for the movie, its simply a fun classic adventure story. And I think its a heck of a lot better than the silly early-21st century remake (sorry, Brendan Fraser...nothing personal, I love you!). ~Jean
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, New Mexico
Many of the inner-Earth journey scenes were shot inside in the caverns in what is known as the Big Room.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located on US 62/180, in the rugged foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains, 20 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico (3225 National Parks Highway). The park is open daily year-round; closed only on Christmas Day. Near the entrance to the cave are the Visitor Center and Observation Tower, open daily 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day; 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the rest of the year. Allow 3 hours minimum to fully enjoy this remarkable site.
Right: Inside the Caverns. Stalagmites and stalactites in glowing colors abound in whats known as the Big Room. What a glory to behold.
The Caverns, a series of enormous rooms forming one of the worlds largest caves, was created in a limestone fossil reef by percolating ground water about 250 million years ago, when this part of New Mexico was still under the sea. There is some evidence that prehistoric man lived in and around these caves, which were rediscovered by a cowboy named Jim White, who began exploring the area in 1901. The national park was established in 1930.
Formations include massive stalagmites, stalactites, and columns. There are 21 miles of subterranean corridors and great chambers. The natural entrance is 90 feet wide and 40 feet high and the temperature inside is a constant 56 degrees. The descent to the 750-foot level is made on foot or by elevator. The Big Room is large enough to hold 14 Houston Astrodomes! Hundreds of thousands of bats hang head down from the walls and ceilings of a part of the cavern not open to the public, and they exit in huge flocks at sunset.
About Carlsbad, New Mexico:
Carlsbad, New Mexico (population 27,410; elevation 3,295 feet; 32° 24 43 N, 104° 14 11 W) is located in the far southeast corner of the state. Founded in 1888, as Eddy, the town was renamed after the famous European health spa resort, Karlsbad, Bohemia. Today, Carlsbad is primarily a farming community, due to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamations system of dams and canals that irrigate 25,000 acres. Lake Carlsbad (in the heart of the city) offers recreational opportunities, along with Presidents Park Amusement Village.
Right: The entry sign to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, just outside Carlsbad, New Mexico. So classic!
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park
Located on the northwest edge of the city, just off US 285. Experience the Chihuahuan desert: see mountain lions, bobcats, quail, hawks, owls, badgers, skunks, bear, wolves, deer, elk, foxes, prairie dogs, buffalo, waterfowl, snakes, lizards, and roadrunners. The headquarters building features exhibits on minerals, archeology, mammals, and reptiles. Allow at least 2 hours to enjoy the park.
Right: The major stars in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in a photo from a promotional lobby card. They are seen on location inside Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico.
Lincoln National Forest
Located southwest of Carlsbad, just west of Carlsbad Caverns. Here there are 285,000 acres for hiking, caving, horseback riding, and camping. Sitting Bull Falls is a picnic area near a waterfall that pours over the canyon walls. Five Points Vista offers a panoramic view of the desert below. NOTE: Before planning a visit to this recreational area check to see if fire restrictions have made it necessary to close the forest to all visitors.
Lodging & Dining:
Carlsbad Inn. 2019 S. Canal, Carlsbad, New Mexico
A blast from the past basic-type motel, conveniently located near Carlsbad Caverns, restaurants, and local shops.
Rojas Mexican Grill. 2704 San Jose Boulevard, Carlsbad, New Mexico
Authentic Mexican food, rated the best in Carlsbad. Good service and popular with the locals (always a good sign).
Journey to the Center of the Earth received Oscar nominations in the categories of Best EffectsSpecial Effects, Best Art Direction-Set DecorationColor, and Best Sound.
Right: Pat Boone (center) and James Mason (right) discuss a scene with the director on location in the depths of Carlsbad Caverns.
The film is an adaptation based on the Jules Verne story of the same name.
James Mason reportedly had very little patience with the movie star preening of Arlene Dahl and the relationship between the two off the set was very much like what is seen on screen.
Pat Boone didnt want to make this film, but was talked into it by his agent. Years later, he stated hes glad he did it because of the regular residual checks it brings in and because its the movie for which he will probably best be remembered.
A state-of-the-art, high-tech 3-D remake of Journey to the Center of Earth starring Brendan Fraser was released in 2008. This new version of the classic Jules Verne epic tale takes a more tongue-in-cheek approach, with over-the-top stunts and action scenes.
Character Quote: Since the beginning of time all women have heard footsteps up there. ~Sir Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason)