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A Greek fisherman named Demetrios (Sal Ponti, under the screen name of Anthony Hall) and his father rescue Princess Antillia (Joyce Taylor) from a shipwreck without knowing that in fact she is from the technologically advanced civilization of Atlantis.After rescuing an Atlantean princess, Demetrios must travel beyond the Pillars of Hercules to take her home. Upon returning her to her civilization, Demetrios expecting to receive a reward all he gets for his troubles is enslavement and is forced to fight in the arena to undergo the ordeal of fire and water. It turns out that the King Cronus (Edgar Stehli) is being manipulated by an ambitious usurper, Zaren (John Dall), using an evil sorcerer (Frank DeKova) who wishes to use the resources of Atlantis to take over the world. The slaves of Atlantis have been mining crystals which absorb the sun's rays and can then be used to fire heat rays.Due to arrogant corruption and moral laxity, the country is an abomination before heaven. Demetrious's fight with a giant ogre in a pool of fire and water. The ogre appears to be about 350 lbs and Demetrious outmaneuvers him and lights his hair on fire with hilarious laughing from the massive crowd in the "coliseum,while goofy scences of spectators holding grapes cheer them on. The House of Fear, where slaves become beasts,is similar to the House of Pain long before Michael York found the Island of Dr. Moreau,is one of the plots lesser successful plot points.Demetrios is partially transformed into one of them. Unexpected religious overtones enter the story. Impending doom hangs heavy in the air. The birds and animals flee the approaching destruction. Through the help of a kind, spiritual high priest named Azar (Edward Platt), Demetrios is able to rescue the princess from the wicked spells of the sorcerer and his malicious pretender to the throne, and escape from the spectacular destruction of Atlantis in the climactic finale.Azar and Zaren wrestle each other,as their huge crystal ray device uncontrolled sweeps about zapping this and that,until destroys both John Dall and Edward Platt.Eventually, the earth moves, thunder crashes, and the volcano rocks-n-rolls,as the survivors flee to different parts of the world,spreading the legend through their own mythology.
|Sal Ponti (as Anthony Hall)||Demetrios|
|Joyce Taylor||Princess Antillia|
|William Smith||Captain of the Guard|
|Edward Platt||Azar the High Priest|
|Frank DeKova||Sonoy the Astrologer|
|Edgar Stehli||King Cronus [Kronos]|
|Wolfe Barzell||Petros, Demetrios' Father|
|Jay Novello||Xandros the Greek Slave|
|Paul Frees||Narrator/multiple voices|
The film is notorious for its inclusion of stock footage material from other movies, including Quo Vadis and The Naked Jungle. Props from other productions were also reused, including a large statue at the temple from The Prodigal and Krell gauges from Forbidden Planet. The spectacular special visual effects work of Atlantis, the elaborate miniature work of ancient Greek and Roman-style buildings, landscapes, temples, the volcano, the destruction of Atlantis, and the giant crystal ray machine, were the work of the special effects production company Project Unlimited, supervised by Gene Warren, Wah Chang, and Jim Danforth, along with the MGM production staff supervised by A. Arnold Gillespie. They coordinated their work with George Pal, who worked closely with the production designer and art director George W. Davis and William Ferrari.
The film has generally received poor reviews and was described by film critic Leonard Maltin in his 2002 Movie & Video Guide as "Pal's worst film", saying that it had "poor effects" and that it was: "Occasionally funny – but not on purpose." 
Science fiction author David Wingrove also had similar criticisms in his science fiction film source book: "No expense was spared in buying up footage from Quo Vadis to give it true period flavour. Avoid." 
At a preview screening of this film, questionnaires were handed to the audience asking what their favorite scene was. One person, apparently recognizing the footage taken from Quo Vadis, replied, "The scene where Robert Taylor saved Deborah Kerr from the fire."
For a sci-fi film, not too bad. The special effects and model photography used in the film may have been state of the art at the time of this film's release; but by today's standards, look cheap and crude. Except for a couple of faces, the cast is made up mostly of unknowns and forgottens. Get Smart fans may recognize Ed Platt (the chief of CONTROL) as the priest. Fans of F-Troop also get to see Frank DeKova (chief Wild Eagle) as the astrologer. Sorry to you Gilligan's Island fans; the part of the princess is played by Joyce Taylor, not Dawn Wells (Maryann). The film must have been overbudget near the end because many shots from previous films like "Quo Vadis" and "When Worlds Collide" were inserted to depict the volcano eruption and subsequent destruction of the land. This film would probably best serve a juvenile audience on a Saturday morning, or fill in for rained-out baseball games in the summer.
Anybody who knows this movie is probably familiar with its production background: George Pal wanted to make a larger scale movie about Atlantis but MGM didn't give him the budget he needed; leftover footage from "Quo Vadis" was used in the final scenes when Atlantis is destroyed; Anthony Hall (actually singer Sal Ponti) and Joyce Taylor apparently weren't strong enough actors to avoid being somewhat upstaged by Edward Platt and John Dall, whose campy arrogance as the corrupt warlord is a pleasure to behold; and finally, scenes of flying soldiers were not included in the final film when they tested poorly in test screenings.
Still, this film holds some real treasures: Paul Frees' somber narration before the titles, the powerful Atlantis theme by Russell Garcia, the amazing fish-shaped submarine, that fantastic crystal death-ray weapon, and most of all, the striking depiction of an ancient, technologically advanced but corrupt civilization that was destroyed by a volcano. Perhaps the fact that this is still the most well-known Atlantis movie is an indication of its strengths. One final note: the giant crystal death-ray device reappears as a prop in the Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Concrete Overcoat Affair"!.Also the destruction of Atlantis footage,was reused in Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (1964).
- ↑ Leonard Maltin, ed., Leonard Maltin's 2002 Movie & Video Guide. A Signet Book, 2001.
- ↑ Wingrove, David. Science Fiction Film Source Book (Longman Group Limited, 1985)
- ↑ Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961) – Trivia