Fantastic Voyage stars Raquel Welch! Ok thanks for popping on by………
What, you want a bit more? Oh my bad. Well along with the delectable Miss Raquel you also get a technicolor, eye watering, visually stunning movie in the most perfectly 60’s way possibly. Throw into a pot, futuristic technology, a nuclear submarine, some cool science fiction mumbo jumbo, a backdrop of the Cold War and Raquel Welch for the gents and Stephen Boyd for the ladies. (Or vice versa if you wish). Wait a minute there’s more to add, a possible traitor, an experimental laser beam scalpel, a top class surgeon and one last thing, you gotta have a baldy Donald Pleasence in the mix.
Once you got all the ingredients together you can blast that pot with your miniaturizing ray gun. Now comes the hard bit, you gotta carefully add the contents to a hypodermic needle and eject that mini people juice into the jugular vein of a dying man. Yep a dying man! For this is a top secret mission to save a scientist.
Tagline – The most amazing science fiction ever conceived!
That scientist is Dr. Jan Benes (Jean Del Val), who’s just escaped the Iron Curtain under the protection of American intelligence agents. Soon after landing on American soil an assassination attempt is carried out. Dr Jan Benes is left comatosed with a blood clot deep inside his brain. It was impossible to operate in the usual way, luckily he was at the C.M.D.F. What? the Consolidated Mobilization of Delinquent Females? Haha no don’t be silly it stands for the Combined Miniature Deterrent Forces.
The C.M.D.F was a top secret organisation that specializes in miniaturization. A science and military funded project that could shrink down full platoons of men, guns, tanks etc to be deployed anywhere in the world, unseen. Both sides had achieved the technology at the same rate, both reaching the limit of their knowledge. They could only stay at the size of an Atom for exactly one hour before returning to normal size. Dr. Jan Benes had broken this problem, he’d worked out the formula to stay shrunken indefinitely. He’d defected because he wanted the West to have this technology but now he lay, moments from death, taking his secret work with him.
Tagline – Four men and one woman on the most fantastic, spectacular and terrifying journey of their lives…
There was only one man capable of the delicate procedure, renown surgeon Dr. Duval (Arthur Kennedy) with the help of his talented assistant Cora (Raquel Welch). Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield) is the submarine pilot with Dr. Michaels (Donald Pleasence) helping navigate through the complicated pathways to their destination. With one place to fill, Grant (Stephen Boyd) was the trusty agent befriended by the victim. Under orders to keep the mission on track whilst keeping an eye on Dr. Duval who they think maybe a double agent. All they need to do was to be shrunk down to the size of an atom!
Overseeing the whole project from the control room are two of the big brass of the secret organisation. General Carter (Edmond O’Brien) and Col. Donald Reid (Arthur O’connell) stand chain smoking cigars and drinking gallons of heavily sugared coffee. They both know the risks involved and the dire ramifications if failure is achieved.
What could possibly go wrong?
- Fantastic Voyage is directed by Richard Fleischer. A man with an incredible versatile array of films on his CV. Science fiction, film noir, sword and sandals, fantasy, war films, cop dramas, biographies. He hit all genres through his career and most are pure fire winners. Well the last lot got a bit patchy, Arnie and Brigitte busting out of their skimpies! Still, good fun though.
- Isaac Asimov wrote a novelization of the movie from the screenplay by Harry Kleiner which in itself was an adaption of an original story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby.
- The opening credits sequence is frantically brilliant especially with its futurist soundtrack. Flashing up creative text over images of dials, computer symbols, monitors, brain x-rays, close up eyeballs, wires and electronics. I believe they were designed by Richard Kuhn. Opening credit scene here
- With exactly one hour of shrink time, once they go in the body the film plays out in real time.
- Didn’t realise the words “Inner Space” getting mentioned went on to inspire the movie title for the hugely entertaining 1987 miniaturizing in-body action comedy Innerspace that starred Dennis Quaid and Martin Short.
- The set designs are artistically creative and very imaginative. The use of light and colours, backdrops of painted sheets and what I thought looked like fibreglass insulation? Bet they itched like crazy if it was. The wire work was excellent too, floating around whilst getting bombarded with antibodies.
- The film even spawned an animated cartoon series.
- A new remake has been on the cards for some time with rumours Guillermo del Toro may take the helm. With him onboard it should be wonderfully strange and beautiful. He does bring so much imagination to his works. If it is true, then I’m sure he can get Doug Jones to play some weird antibody blobman?
I’ve seen this a quite a few times over the years and you can’t but love the ambitious passion the creative team had taken on this production. It’s also funny that the film actually takes itself pretty seriously with its subject matter. But you can’t help but smile along with it and enjoy the vastly entertaining ride. A 60’s science fiction classic.
Thanks for joining me on my quest to cover the whole of January in science-fiction. Do you have fond memories of the Fantastic Voyage?
Have fun with the movies… Mikey Wolf