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DANA ANDREWS ATOMIC UNDERGROUND 'CRACK IN THE WORLD'

Dana Andrews in CRACK IN THE WORLD Year: 1965 Rating: ****

Not really a mad scientist but more an impatient one, with a soft yet distinguished voice, Dana Andrews is surprisingly secure and relaxed... And perhaps that fits, since brilliant, hard-driven, stubborn, important men don't know they're going a little off-kilter, and his Dr. Stephen Sorenson is only driven by a lack of time...

Dying of a blood disease, he wants to put his experiment beyond the testing stage, a great risk in the eyes of younger British scientist Kieron Moore as Dr. Ted Rampion, the older doc's student turned antithesis who'd actually make a better fit for Dana's young trophy wife – another scientist, Maggie, played by gorgeous blond-haired  b-starlet Janette Scott (Moore and Scott did play husband and wife in THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, and she's the real life wife of Dana's THE FEARMAKERS co-star, Mel Torme)...

Dana Andrews in CRACK IN THE WORLD

As for the plot, the reasons are as good as is usually the case in what causes any Disaster Flick to ignite... Working in a large underground laboratory by way of a high-tech elevator (Dana's brother, Steve Forrest, would ride a similar one in SPIES LIKE US), there are some dated computers larger than filing cabinets figuring out clues while the group's very close to reaching their goad...

And, so, liken to striking oil, the concept is easy enough: Once breaking through to the Earth's Core, they can use the molten contents to eventually light factories, entire cities, you name it – in other words, this groundbreaking experiment could possibly save the environment and the planet.

Dana Andrews in CRACK IN THE WORLD

Only there's great risk involved and, without our younger, soon-to-be hero's theory – a bulwark in allowing his mentor to drop a nuclear warhead down a giant steel pipe into the crust where their machines can't penetrate – there'd be no suspense at all since he alone warns of the possible danger...

In that, CRACK IN THE WORLD is another of many "Beware of Nukes" science-fiction programmers but with a creative twist, and an overall message – that nuclear weapons, even if they might do some actual good, are simply good for nothing.

Dana Andrews in CRACK IN THE WORLD with Kieron Moore

The first half is intriguing – building-up to the underground explosion that will lead to an edgy ten minutes or so, even during a rather subdued celebration once the molten rises triumphantly to the surface: For soon enough, after (stock footage showing) herds of wild beasts running for their lives with no one behind them, the film's title could very well become a reality...

As explained on the same chart where Dana conducted his lecture for a group of visitors to green-light the project, his once reluctant protégé points out a sort of "current" running along the shelf of the Earth, causing giant quakes along particular tropical islands and atolls extended from the test's location as the Disaster-genre element becomes almost entirely hands-on...

Dana Andrews in CRACK IN THE WORLD with Janette Scott

The more daring, physically-equipped workers climbing down giant holes from the exterior (liken to THEM) as Dana remains indoors, dying and yet, while popping pain pills, he still attempts to out-think his own mistake similar to, in a few years, THE TOWERING INFERNO as fireman Steve McQueen surpasses Paul Newman's central character simply by doing his job, and here, Kieron Moore progresses as the bonafide hero partaking in adventurous tasks to stop the catastrophe in its tracks...

And as Dana's performance could have easily been played by any aged actor, his distinguished presence and that deep, rich voice helps make this CRACK more than just Drive-In fodder – then again, so does the plot, British-funded production and overall execution.

Janette Scott Crack In The World Janette Scott
Kieron Moore Janette Scott Crack in the World Kieron Moore Janette Scott
Dana Andrews makes a pointer from CRACK IN THE WORLD

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