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Updated: December 20, 2021

City Beneath the Sea (1971)

Directed by Irwin Allen

Featuring Stuart Whitman, Robert Wagner, Rosemary Forsyth

A former builder of an undersea city takes over administration of the area to face an impending crisis.

This is the first time I've touched on Irwin Allen since covering the very atypical The Animal World; this TV-movie pilot for an unsold series is much more along the lines of what I'd expect. Many people who saw it when they were children loved it, and actually I can see why; the movie is chock-full of science fiction eye-candy and always has something happening; if you popped into it in the middle of the movie, you'd probably see something interesting going on. Unfortunately, it has problems. The movie relies on the recognition factor of seeing celebrities in cameo roles rather than fleshing out its important characters; all the ones who would have been regulars on the series are about as one-dimensional as possible. The character conflicts are hackneyed, cliched and uninspired, and are resolved in the most obvious ways possible.

The movie has some of the most badly-written exposition I've ever heard. And finally, the whole movie feels silly, contrived and scientifically suspect. Of course, none of this would matter to a youngster dazzled by the eye candy and thrilled by the action; nor would it matter to an adult with fond memories of the movie. Nonetheless, without any real interesting characters, it's easy to see why this pilot was never sold.

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