Richard McAllan (Richard Dix) is an engineer. He was the main engineer who was responsible for constructing both the Bahamas-Miami tunnel, as well as the English-French Channel tunnel in 1940. He is at the home of Mr. Lloyd (C. Aubrey Smith) to pitch a proposition to a group of rich investors. Richard tells the assembled industrialists that because of his invention, “allanite steel” and his friend Robbie Robbins (Leslie Banks) invention, the “radium drill”, he believes it is possible to build a tunnel across the Atlantic Ocean that will connect England with New York City in America.
Lloyd has been on board from the beginning. He and Mostyn (Basil Sydney) plan on funding one third of the cost. This news brings others on board. Soon everyone else agrees to help fund the project. Richard wastes no time getting the venture off the ground.
Three years later the construction is going well, and Richard is receiving accolades from both sides of the pond. Richard has devoted all his time to the project, to the neglect of his wife, Ruth (Madge Evans) and his young son Geoffrey (Pat Fitzpatrick). Feeling both neglected and that she has lost Richard’s love, Ruth, needing something to do, begins working on the tunnel project as a nurse attending those that have been injured. Her closeness to a gas that has been afflicting some of the workers causes her to lose her sight. Not wanting her husband to pity her she takes her son and moves to the country. All Richard knows is that she left him.
Devastated over the state of his marriage, Richard now devotes all his time to building the tunnel. There have been problems along the way but both sides are getting closer to completion when a new and larger problem arises. In between the two tunnels is an underwater volcano. If Richard can’t come up with a way to overcome the obstacle the entire project may have to be abandoned.
“Transatlantic Tunnel” AKA “The Tunnel” was released in 1935 and was directed by Maurice Elvey. It is a British science fiction movie. The movie was based on the 1931 novel “Der Tunnel” by Bernhard Kellerman. The screenplay was written by Curt Siodmak, L. du Garde Peach and Clemence Dane. The book was done as a movie twice before, first as a silent film, “Der Tunnel” in 1915, and then as two sound films in 1933. “Der Tunnel” was a German production and “Le Tunnel” was a French production. The film includes stock footage from the 1933 German film.
Among the plot around building the tunnel is a love story and a couple unrequited love stories. Richard and Ruth still love each other but Robbie loves Ruth and Mr. Lloyd’s daughter, Varlia loves Richard. Then there is Mostyn who loves Varlia. There is quite a soap opera that is weaved in and out of the plot. It sometimes made it a little difficult to keep track of all the characters.
The film spans at least twenty years and occurs sometime in the future. It’s not stated exactly when but there is mention that the Channel tunnel was done in 1940 so a conservative estimate would be mid-sixties.
The tunnel visuals are nice and futuristic. Apparently, the future is art deco. The tunnel scenes are the most interesting parts of the film. The humanistic side of the film is a little overly melodramatic. For the most part it was pretty good, but it slowed down a little in spots.