I know the exact circumstances when I first saw "Crack in the World." The date was April 25, 1970. The place was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And it was broadcast on a local television show called "Chiller Theatre," hosted by home-towner Bill "Chilly Billy" Cardille. Today, more than 40 years later, Chilly Billy is still going strong on the radio in Pittsburgh, although "Chiller Theatre" is no more, and "Crack in the World" has finally--FINALLY--come out on DVD.
I'm pleased to say it is ALMOST as good as I remember. It lives up to the strong impression it made on me the first and only time I saw it. I vividly recalled some of the scenes even after four decades, especially the one where the team lowers the atomic bomb into the volcano. There's a lot packed into its 96-minute run time, and most of it holds up pretty well, even for today's jaded audiences. There's a terminally ill scientist who wants to finish his life's work of tapping a new source of energy--the magma in the earth's core--before he dies. There's another scientist who fears that the work, if completed, will doom the earth. There's the obligatory romantic triangle among the two scientists and the beautiful (of course) woman they both love. There's a global disaster of epic proportions, and there's mass destruction as the fears of the second scientist come true (that's not a spoiler--if it didn't happen, there would be no story).
It's a little slow in parts, mostly when the three-sided romantic entanglements take center stage, but elsewhere "Crack in the World" moves at a furious pace as the scientists race against time to save the earth from the cataclysm they've unleashed. The special effects range from pretty poor (in just a couple of shots) to jaw-droppingly excellent. They're mostly pretty good considering the pre-CGI state of the art in 1965. The story holds together well, the characters are interesting and the production values are great, with crisp, clear scenes in the original semi-widescreen format, vibrant color and a sound track with dialog you can actually understand (an increasingly rare attribute lately).
"Crack in the World" is a great addition to any DVD library of truly classic science fiction movies. Now if only "Gog" and "The Day the Earth Moved" would come out on DVD, I'd be a very happy camper...