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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

USA 1916
produced by
Carl Laemmle for Universal
directed by Stuart Paton
starring Alan Holubar, Dan Hanlon, Matt Moore, Jane Gail, Edna Pendleton, Curtis Benton, Howard Crampton, William Welsh, Leviticus Jones, Martin Murphy, Wallace Clarke, Joseph W. Girard, Lois Alexander, Ole Jansen, Noble Johnson
screenplay by Stuart Paton, based on the novels 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, underwater cinematography by George M. Williamson, J.Ernest Williamson/Williamson Submarine Film Corporation

Captain Nemo

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Professor Aronax (Dan Hanlon) and his party investigate a number of sea monster attacks reported in a certain region - when they are attacked by the very sea monster that rams their boat and causes Aronax and co to fall overboard while their ship is left rudderless, so the crew is unable to pick them up again.

The sea monster of course wasn't really a sea monster but the Nautilus, the futuristic submarine of one Captain Nemo (Allen Holubar), who has made it his mission to attack and sink battleships, driven by a thirst for vengeance. But Nemo is no monster, either, so he picks up the professor and his party to save their lives, and gradually, they turn from being his prisoners to being his guests and friends. Nemo even takes them out on an underwater stroll/hunting expedition.

In the meantime, a gang of balloonists land on the Mysterious Island, Nemo's hideout on land. Again, Nemo shows compassion and sends them a boatload of supplies, without making himself known to them. Eventually, the balloonists encounter a jungle girl (Jane Gail) whom they all fall in love with, especially their leader Lt Bond (Matt Moore). When one of Bond's men tries to rape the girl, Bond makes him an outcast.

Enter evil trader Denver (William Welsh): Many years ago, he threw a little girl overboard because he wanted to rape her mother (who rther killed herself though), but now he's overcome by guilt and wants to make up for the girl, who he suspects to be on the mysterious island. On the island, he goes half insane, however the rapist/outcast of Bond's men sees a chance to use Denver for his evil purposes, to he has Denver's men kidnap the jungle girl and tries to make off with her, leaving his comrades behind.

Bond learns of the outcast's scheming, so he swims after Denver's boat and somehow manages to free the jungle girl, just before ...

In the meantime, Nemo learns that the boat anchored in front of the mysterious island is Denver's, his arch enemy, so he torpedoes it to kingdom come. It only now turns out that it was Denver who made Nemo into what he is, a vengeance driven monster of the sea. Back in the day, he was a prince and Denver enjoyed his trust, but Denver eyed Nemo's wife and thus betrayed him to the English colonists, then took Nemo's wife and daughter. He threw the daughter overboard his vessel to rape the wife, and ... and this means the jungle girl is Nemo's daughter.

Now that the story has come full circle, Nemo can die in peace.


The main attraction of this film from the early days of cinema is its underwater photography, which is clearly pointed out in the credits sequence, and the underwater sequences do look quite impressive, not only for their day and age.

The picture as a whole though is little more than a pulpy adventure yarn that derives Jules Verne's source novels of most of their subtext - Nemo being a misguided pacifist - and instead throws one pulp cliché after the next into the mix to make it into a silly little piece of escapism. Now as such, the film is still cute and totally watchable, and it's well-made, too. Just don't expect a masterpiece.


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