Crack in the World Review

Crack in the World’s enemy is romance, not the planetary-sized fissure slowly wiping out the Earth’s crust. Plodding, soapy drama between the three, almost interchangeable leads grinds the film to a halt, leading the viewer to root for the nuclear-induced crack to swallow them whole.

Paramount’s B-grade sci-fi department cranked this one out in 1965, seemingly a hold over from the ’50s, nuclear warnings and science naivety still dragged into this decade. Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews) plays a scientist plucked from every radioactive creature feature that preceded Crack, married to a woman with feelings for his rival, Ted (Kieron Moore). Ted is at least level-headed, sure that sending a nuke to penetrate the core of the planet probably isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

He was right, mostly because we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise.

So, the split happens along a fault line, engulfing small islands while heading for the American coast. At best, you’ll know all of this from stock footage, the budget not enough to handle the capable miniature work of one Eugene Lourie. Crack in the World delays and dodges what it can, substituting romantic sap instead of world punishing destruction. What happens when a disaster movie doesn’t have disaster? It becomes a sluggish bore, one where characters look on in awe at stuff happening on screens, all of it pulled from elsewhere.

Sadly, for all of the kooky, enjoyable science, Crack in the World is never afforded an energetic spark, the rather low-rent origins failing to help keep it up with movies a decade (or more) younger. If you’re going to slaughter the planet, at least do it in style.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Crack in the World marks one of the first releases from Olive Films, a smaller label that has bought up some of Paramount’s lesser catalog for hi-def and DVD releasing. The result? A thank you to Olive, the company either given or tracking down a clean, certainly multi-generational print for release on Blu-ray. Their compressionists were certainly not asleep at the wheel either, keeping the natural, pleasing grain structure intact.

Crack in the World doesn’t seem to be from a release print, that best guess partially formed from a lack of various reel marks scattered about the print. It has the lesser qualities of a second or third generation copy though, colors slightly degraded from what was surely a Technicolor pop-fest. It lacks a filmic sharpness, also a possibility when dealing with lesser stocks, certainly when dealing with a lower-end production.

Nothing here is offensive though, entirely natural for something this vintage and untampered. Print damage remains, sometimes overbearing during those multi-pass effects shots, other times left to minimal specks and scratches. Judder is held to a minimum, and only a handful of shots exhibit any flicker. Black levels are sufficient and the contrast looks only lightly elevated, the slight color dimming enough to make it look marginally washed out.

Miniature sets sparkle here, brimming with some adequate definition and discernible detail. Even a few close-ups of the actors shine in their own little way. The wonderful world of underground science is presented sharply too, the metal boxes of electronic components and switches lovingly presented in hi-def. One final note, Crack is listed as 1.85:1, the transfer cropping that slightly to 1.78:1.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Keeping things intact, Olive issues a PCM mono mix that tries desperately to keep the material in check. The dated, slightly faded source strains itself to present the non-epicness of cracks in the Earth’s crust, each rumble or burst of fire distorted.

Despite the lack of fidelity, Crack in the World contains a fine, distressing score that carries more weight than the events themselves. That’s the highlight here, firm and clean without any of the same muffled qualities of the effects. Trumpets blare freely, and it’s all mixed precisely to keep the varied elements in check.

Dialogue tends to waver, some of it obviously dubbed over in post, that lacking the same general crispness as the rest. It’s not all sparkling mind you, but certainly matching various other features from the era in terms of fidelity.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

There’s nothing here for extras, and there’s barely even a menu. It’s just “Play Movie” and a chapter select.

Extras ☆☆☆☆☆