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  Crack in the World Break With Tradition
Year: 1965
Director: Andrew Marton
Stars: Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore, Alexander Knox, Peter Damon, Jim Gillen, Gary Lasdun, Alfred Brown, Mike Steen, Emilio Carrere, Sydna Scott, John Karlsen, Todd Martin, Ben Tatar
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dr Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews) and his wife Maggie (Janette Scott), also a scientist, are leading the research to discover an unlimited source of energy to solve Earth’s fuel crisis, and have settled upon what they believe is an ingenious idea, to use the molten core of the planet itself. To get at this, they have constructed a missile tower in Tanganyika which will fire a hydrogen bomb into a deep hole in the ground, thereby unleashing the magma they need and providing an unending supply of the energy. However, their colleague Dr Ted Rampion (Kieron Moore) is highly sceptical this is a good idea, and will do everything in his power to stop it before it goes ahead...

End of the world movies are not a subgenre of science fiction well known for their robust science, and nowhere was that clearer than in Crack in the World, as achingly sincere as it was absolutely ludicrous. There are of course plenty of cracks in the world already because the planet’s surface is not one smooth, uniform globe, it has plates the continents move about on, but as with everything from When Worlds Collide to The Day After Tomorrow, you had to say to yourself, you know, forget all that boring factual stuff, let’s just see what the filmmakers were trying to sell the public back in 1965 as a premise for a disaster movie. That type of thriller became very big business come the seventies, but this set out to play big.

So it wasn’t some skyscraper aflame or upturned ocean liner that we were asked to consider, oh no, it was the fate of the entirety of the human race at stake, and once the dominos were set in motion there was no way of arresting their inexorable toppling towards disaster. Before that we had to have some kind of human interest yarn for us to identify with, and the Sorensons' marriage troubles were that, for Dr Steve had won the hand of Dr Maggie from Dr Ted earlier, before we joined the plot, and there was a suggestion of simmering resentment between the two men, as if Dr Ted was thinking, OK, you stole my girl, so now I stop your energy project, see how you like that old man! And Andrews was noticeably more aged than Scott.

Maggie wants a baby, but she’s not going to get one from Stephen who throws himself into his work instead, not just because he wishes to see the project to completion, but also because he is suffering a terminal illness and doesn’t have long to go. This not only established the self-sacrifice necessary to redeem him in the latter stages, it gave Maggie and Ted the excuse to get together again before the grand finale. Really this was soap opera stuff, and not as interesting as the full-blooded carnage to come in the second half when the bomb went off in the crust and caused, well, take a guess, it’s all there in the title, which in spite of nice miniature work might as well have alternatively been Attack of the Stock Footage of Volcanos, for the film researchers were earning their money with this one.

The manner in which the rest of the movie threw itself into the destruction of thousands, possibly millions of people was rather unseemly, as if the potential audience was thirsting for as much mass death of innocents as they could get and Crack in the World was only too happy to generate it. There were indications this was actually a revenge of nature disaster and not a science gone out of control one, though they were not mutually exclusive, which looked forward to the next decade’s strain of ecological concerns in genre material, but whatever spectacle was the order of the day as cinema audience’s desire to enjoy as much destruction as one movie could cram into its running time was evidently not something that had emerged more recently, nope, there were many examples throughout film history and this just happened to be one of the most enthusiastic diversions. This led up to a climax that was one of the most preposterous in the entire science fiction canon, surely spelling enormous upheaval for the Earth if not outright extinction, but then there’s the squirrel who informs us all is well, so you can rest easy as you, er, live in your freshly erupted cave or whatever’s left. Music by Johnny Douglas.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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