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Master of the World

USA 1961
produced by
James H. Nicholson, Samuel Z. Arkoff (executive) for AIP
directed by William Witney
starring Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, David Frankham, Richard Harrison, Vito Scotti, Wally Campo
screenplay by Richard Matheson, based on the novels Master of the World and Robur the Conqueror by Jules Verne, music by Les Baxter

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The late 19th century: After their balloon has crashed, arms manufacturer Prudent (Henry Hull), his daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster), her fiancé Evans (David Frankham) and gouvernment agent Strock (Charles Bronson) all find themselves on a propeller-driven heavier-than-air airship, the Albatross, owned and piloted by Robur (Vincent Price), a genius and maniac who wants to use his ship to end all wars - by means of war. He figures aerial superiority could force gouvernments to abandon all hostilities - and to some extent, he might have a point there. Prudent is worried about this though, because without wars, who would buy his weapons? Evans is worried because Dorothy seems to be drawn to Strock more than she's supposed to. And Strock? He plays it cool, but it soon becomes clear that he is worried that anybody but the USA should have aerial superiority - anywhere in the world. Other than the others though, he seems to have a plan.

After much to and fro, and Robur bombing quite a few battlefleets in the meantime as interfering in an actual war in Africa, Strock reveals his plan: While Robur and his men repair the damage on the ship their latest intervention has caught, Strock and Evans blow up the Albatross's ammunition depot, and then they along with Dorothy and her dad save themselves via the anchor rope (the ship is actually repaired in mid-air). This works, too, despite the fact that while they try to blow up the ship, Evans tries to get rid of Strock at the same time ...


There is a likeable message about pacifism somewhere in this movie, but basically the film is too harmless to really bring this message to the fore, and tries too much to be a sci-fi-adventure to really care about pacifism to begin with. That said, Master of the World is not without its virtues, Vincent Price delivers a great performance, Charles Bronson is actually pretty good, and the Albatross as such is wonderful to look at. On the other hand, the special effects are less than special, with the Albatross just copied into scenes it apparently doesn't belong in, plenty of black-and-white stock footage in a colour film just to save costs, and the action is a bit too restrained to the Albatross's interior to really make this film work.

Still, it's one of the films that gets you in a nostalgic mood, that seems to have been old-fashioned even at its release due to its designs, costumes and the like. That said, the film seems to be a less-than-ideal vehicle for action expert William Witney, but I guess he did what he could ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD