Oscar Movies: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)


A Joseph M. Schenck Enterprise and Cooga Mooga Film production.

Based on Jules Verne's popular sci-fi novel, adapated to the screen by Walter Reisch and Charles Bracket, the film was directed by Henry Levin.

James Mason plays a University of Edinburgh professor, who leads a team of explorers into an extinct volcano in order to reach the center of the earth.

By standards of the time, the production values are good, particularly score by the brilliant composer Bernard Herrmann. The film was nominated for three technical awards, but lost out to William Wyler's historical epic, “Ben-Hur.”

: 3

Art Direction-Set Decoration (color): Lyle R. Wheeler, Franz Bachelin, and Herman A. Blumenthal; Walter M. Scott and Joseph Kish
Sound: Carl Faulkner, sound director, Fox
Special Effects: L.B. Abbott and James B. Gordon, visual; Carl Faulkner, audible

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

In 1959, “Ben-Hur” swept most of the Oscars, winning 11 out of its 12 nominations, thus becoming the most honored film to date. Significantly it lost the Screenplay Oscar due to debate about who wrote what; in his acceptance speech Best Actor Winner Charlton Heston thanked Christopher Frye, though, like other writers (Gore Vidal among them), he didn't get credit. The winner in that category was Neil Paterson for “Room at the Top.”