February 6th, 2011: Latitude Zero (1969)

Cast and Crew: Ishiro Honda (Director); Ted Sherdeman (Original Stories and Screenplay)

What It’s About: When a freak accident strands reporter Perry Lawton (Richard Jaeckel) and scientists Dr. Tashiro (Akira Takarada) and Dr. Masson (Masumi Okada) in a bathysphere at the bottom of the ocean, Captain MacKenzie (Joseph Cotton) saves them in his incredibly advanced submarine, the Alpha.  The 200-year-old MacKenzie is the head of secret underwater community Latitude Zero.where he gathers the greatest minds on Earth to create a harmonious and highly advanced city, whose secrets are slowlyimparted to the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, MacKenzie’s nemesis, the mad scientist Dr.  Malic (Cesar Romero) threatens Latitude Zero’s peace, using his monstrous animal people and his own submarine, the Black Shark, to threaten Latitude Zero.  Can MacKenzie and his new friends foil Dr. Malic?

Why Watch it Today?: Joseph Cotton, who died today in 1994, started at the top with Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater, giving a wonderful supporting turn in Citizen Kane, and starring in classics like The Third Man.  For better or worse Cotton spent much of his later career in genre films that ranged from the goofy (Baron Blood) to the abysmal (White Commanche).   Latitude Zero falls decidedly in the “goofy” range, with Cotton cast against type as a man of action.  The sight of Cotton flying around in a gold lame jump suit is something to see.  The film is a bit mixed, with an inconsistent feel, indifferent performances and effects which range from typical 1960s Toho Studios miniature work to some truly awful creature effects, but it’s worth checking out for the sheer oddity of it all.

Where to Get It:  Netflix (Rental only) or Amazon.com(DVD only)


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