|Kirk Douglas||Ned Land|
|James Mason||Capt. Nemo|
|Paul Lukas||Prof. Pierre Arronax|
|Robert J. Wilke||First Mate of the Nautilus|
|Ted de Corsia||Capt. Farragut|
|Carleton Young||John Howard|
|Percy Helton||Coach Driver|
|Ted Cooper||Mate on 'Lincoln'|
|Fred Graham||Casey Moore, second speaker (uncredited)|
|Charles Grodin||Drummer (uncredited)|
|Harry Harvey||Ticket Agent (uncredited)|
|Eddie Marr||Shipping Agent (uncredited)|
|T. Monaghan||Crewman (uncredited)|
|Gloria Pall||Blonde Girlfriend (uncredited)|
|Jack Pennick||Carson (uncredited)|
|S. Tarnell||Crewman (uncredited)|
|Herb Vigran||Reporter for the Globe (uncredited)|
|Vincent Di Fate|
|James Mason||Captain Nemo|
|Paul Lukas||Prof. Pierre Arronax/Narrator|
|Musician||Paul J. Smith
The swashbuckler genre bumped into science fiction in 1954 for one of Hollywood's great entertainments.
The Jules Verne story of adventure under the sea was Walt Disney's magnificent debut into live-action films.
A professor (Paul Lukas) seeks the truth about a legendary sea monster in the years just after the Civil War. When his ship is sunk, he, his aide (Peter Lorre), and a harpoon master (Kirk Douglas) survive to discover that the monster is actually a metal submarine run by Captain Nemo (James Mason).
Along with the rollicking adventure, it's fun to see the future technology that Verne dreamed up in his novel, including diving equipment and sea farming. The film's physical prowess is anchored by the Nautilus, an impressive full-scale gothic submarine complete with red carpet and pipe organ.
In the era of big sets, 20,000 Leagues set a precedent for films shot on the water and deservedly won Oscars for art direction and special effects.
Lost in the inventiveness of the film and great set pieces including a giant squid attack are two great performances. Mason is the perfect Nemo, taut and private, clothed in dark fabric that counters the Technicolor dreamboat that is the beaming red-and-white-stripe-shirted Kirk Douglas as the heroic Ned Land.
The film works as peerless family adventure nearly half a century later. --Doug Thomas