THE SEA AROUND US

THE SEA AROUND US (1953)

Running Time: 61 mins.                      Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: Irwin Allen

Genre: Documentary

Country: USA

Language: English

Distributor: RKO

Cast: Don Forbes (narrator), Theodore von Eltz (narrator)

Hack Compilation of Advertising and Propaganda Footage.

Before Irwin Allen went on to produce crappy, clumsy, cardboard disaster epics with gaudy but primitive special effects, he managed to get himself noticed by throwing together a film version of Rachel Carson’s bestselling (82 weeks on the NY Times list) The Sea Around Us. I say put together because this film, which impressed everybody (1953 Academy Award) in the early Fifties by merely having undersea color photography, because the footage was supplied by people and organizations with an interest in self promotion like oil companies, commercial fishing companies, shipping companies and the Australian National Tourist Board.

What Allen did was to get his hands on free or almost free footage and write a voice-over narrative to go along with the footage and slap the already well-known title on it. Irwin Allen was the type of hideous cheese ball producer who thinks: Why pay a writer to write a script? After all there’s nothing to it… and comes up with what sounds important but is just a lot of meaningless but portentous sh*t. He failed as a journalist and was reduced to working for an ad agency, so once a hack, always a hack. He was an even worse writer than Joe Gillis. To him his script must have sounded just as good as Rachel Carson or maybe even Bill Faulkner but to anyone learning creative writing it’s a prime example of what not to do.

While Technicolor processed the film it doesn’t seem to have been shot using the Technicolor process because the three strip cameras would have been too bulky to use underwater. Instead it seems as though various types of mono pack film stocks were used. Ask yourself why there is no cinematographer credited? It’s all advertising/propaganda film. The print shown on TCM looks terrible and it must have been something of an orphan film to go unrestored. Perhaps the people who pay for such things are put off by the ham fisted hack narration, the obvious business connections (RKO at the time was still owned by Howard Hughes who was involved in undersea exploration and even underwater feature movies; UNDERWATER! 1955, at the time) or the fact that Carson, who went on the write the environmentalist clarion call, The Silent Spring, had her work treated in such a shabby manner.

Like all of Allen’s work, its best appreciated by adolescent boys. And not too bright ones at that.

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