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The Wayback Machine: City Beneath the Sea (1971)

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
created 04/19/2013 - 1:14pm

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Even with all their flaws and seeming last season quirks, I have always been a great fan of the science fiction television works of producer Irwin Allen.

Time Tunnel, Lost in Space and especially Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea were and are personal favorites. (Land of the Giants, eh, not so much.)

But a lot of sci-fi television fans, even die-hard Allen fanatics, do not know about his 1971 film, City Beneath the Sea.

A 10-minute demo was originally made to pitch the concept of a television pilot. Despite Allen's success on both the small and large screens, none of the networks bought the concept.

Thus, a few years later, in 1971, Allen took the material and produced a two-hour television movie. The TV movie again failed to garner support necessary to make a series, but has remained a cult classic.

In the movie, set in the near future, an oil rig explodes somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The President of United States (Richard Basehart, Voyage’s Admiral Nelson) immediately calls back into service retired Admiral Michael Matthews (Stuart  Whitman), who begrudgingly and against his will finds himself in his old job as administrator of Pacifica, a fantastic city beneath ... well, beneath the sea!

It is not long before the admiral and his companion, Commander Woody Patterson (Robert Colbert), find themselves headed to the underwater city by way of -- a flying submarine. (Attention, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea fans: it's the same one!)

Matthews regrets the trip back to his old stomping grounds because of a past incident there for which he still carries much guilt. He also expresses apologies to Patterson because once they arrive in Pacifica the commander will be forcibly demoted without just cause.

As they travel, the gentlemen discuss the transfer of the nation's gold supply from Fort Knox, Ky., to Pacifica, a project that began six months ago under Matthews' previous administration. In 17 days, the entirety of the U.S.gold reserves will be under the ocean.

And then, of course, chaos ensues!

City Beneath the Sea is a fun and wonderful TV movie. And if you're into Allen sci-fi it is great to see the flying sub with more props from his TV works making special cameo appearances.

If you are able to find the film, see how many Allen props you can spot!

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