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Films: C is for...

Captain Nemo and the Underwater City

Robert Ryan and Bill Fraser, together at last! There’s a distinct Saturday night serial flavour about this we reckon, if only because of the crappy gold lame costumes and endless use of the same exterior shot of Templemere – Nemo’s supposed HQ -, but even so Robert Ryan is such a bizarre choice for Nemo and so unsympathetic, especially if you’ve spent the Xmas holidays watching Billy Budd about half a dozen times, that it’s difficult not to wish from the very outset that Snudge isn’t able to commandeer the Nautilus and immediately hold the world to ransome for its entire supply of Wodka or somesuch.



  1. Richardpd

    July 2, 2023 at 10:51 pm

    Script by Pip & Jane Baker of all people!

    Co-starring Nanette Newman, not sure of any Brian Forbes involvement!

    I remember in the early 1980s seeing something based on Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas which was my introduction to the character of Captain Nemo, It might have been this, but there have been many adaptations over the years.

  2. Sidney Balmoral James

    July 3, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    I wonder if it was the Return of Captain Nemo you saw – this was shown on British TV when I was a lad in early 80s, I remember Burgess Meredith as a cardigan-wearing villain, although absolutely nothing else of the show – I had to look it up to see who was Captain Nemo (Franco Nero of all people). Involvement of Robert Ryan in the Underwater City film just about sums up Ryan’s bizarre filmography – he was one of those quietly tremendous actors, superb / utterly believable in everything, and often appeared in roles other actors might have shunned (such as his role in The Dirty Dozen or Custer of the West). Gene Hackman is similar, not afraid of unlikable roles and has taken parts others might have avoided (Prime Cut, Under Fire) but in his case, he did become a star. I suppose James Mason is another candidate for this category, undoubtedly a star, but what odd roles he took from 60s onwards – imagine wanting to be a supporting player in Genghis Khan, or The Fall of the Roman Empire, after being a leading man for Kubrick, Nicholas Ray and Max Ophuls!

  3. Richardpd

    July 3, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    I was thinking it might be Return of Captain Nemo, but I’m sure I would have remembered José Ferrer as the Santa Claus like Captain Nemo!

  4. Sidney Balmoral James

    July 4, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    Sorry, yes, its Jose Ferrer rather than Franco Nero. Not sure where Franco Nero came from, although perhaps a more exciting choice for Nemo than Ferrer, who was propping up these sorts of things for years in 70s and 80s. Ferrer is another in the Rex Harrison line of having a hectoring quality to his voice, always lecturing people in his films, and like Harrison, maintained quite a star career – and won an Oscar – despite that unsympathetic personality. George Clooney’s uncle, fact fans!

    • Richardpd

      July 4, 2023 at 10:50 pm

      Yes he was married to Rosemary Clooney twice!

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