While out fishing, Demetrios (Sal Ponti) and his father, Petros (Wolfe Barzell) see a raft floating in the ocean. Unconscious on the raft they find and rescue a young woman who turns out to be Princess Antillia (Joyce Taylor) from the continent of Atlantis. Although at first the princess is rude and dismissive she eventually comes around. Demetrios and Antillia begin to fall in love but the princess wants desperately to go home. Eventually Demetrios ends up agreeing to take the princess back after she attempts to steal his father’s boat.
After being at sea for a month they are picked up by a submarine from Atlantis. On board is Zaren (John Dall). He is basically second in charge. Antillia’s father, King Kronas (Edgar Stehli) has been ill and Zaren has been doing most of the ruling. Once Demetrios is on Atlantis he is immediately thrown into prison and put to work as a slave mining crystals that Atlantis uses for energy and weapons. Atlantis is mining a giant crystal to make the most powerful weapon in the world to use to rule the world.
When Antillia finds out she tries to get him out but Zaren says that is the law. Azor (Edward Platt), the High Priest is on her side but there is little he can do. The Surgeon (Berry Kroeger) of Atlantis wants to do some surgical experiments on Demetrios and turn him into a half man half animal creature. Before he is allowed to experiment, Demetrios is taken away and forced to do battle with Andex the Giant (Robert Maffei) in a test called the ordeal of fire and water. Demetrios beats Andex and earns his freedom.
Demetrios pretends to side with Atlantis and Zaren telling him that he has gotten accustom to the good life. In reality he is working on a plan to set the slaves free and stage a revolt on the rulers of Atlantis. But the gods seem to have their own plan for Atlantis and the volcano that provides for Atlantis may end up being its downfall.
“Atlantis: The Lost Continent” was released in 1961 and was directed by George Pal. It is an adventure fantasy science fiction film and a sword and sandal movie.
Unlike a lot of Pal’s films, the budget for “Atlantis” was smaller. This required a lot of cost saving strategies for the film. Used in the film are a few set pieces from “Forbidden Planet” 1956 and “The Prodigal” 1955, including the huge statue from the temple of “The Prodigal”. Just about any nik nak that could be scrounged from the MGM prop department was also tossed in. Also recycled is a lot of footage from “Quo Vadis” 1951, “The Naked Jungle” 1954, “The Prodigal” 1955 and “Kismet” 1944 not to mention concepts from various movies such as “The Island of Lost Souls” 1932. About the only adventure film not used was “One Million B.C.” 1940. Pal also had to contend with a writers strike so script changes were cut short as well.
Despite the drawbacks and shortcuts in making the film it is still a lot of fun. Even Pal’s lavish and big budget films had an over the top look to them and this one still looks pageantry. Just pretend you’ve never seen any of the other movies used for stock footage. Granted the special effects are lacking and the plot is standard but it is a guilty pleasure from childhood and Atlantis is always a good subject. Instead of looking at it as a low budget George Pal film; look at it as a big budget Sword and Sandal film.
Screen and voice actor Paul Frees not only did the narration for the film but he did the voices of Demetrios’ father Petros and Antillia’s father King Kronas. He also had a walk on part of messenger in the film.
There are six main theories as to what happened to Atlantis: 1. Atlantis was a mid-Atlantic continent that suddenly sunk into the ocean. 2. Atlantis was swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle. 3. Atlantis was Antarctica. 4. The story of Atlantis was a mythical retelling of the Black Sea Flood. 5. Atlantis is the story of the Minoan civilization, which flourished in the Greek islands circa 2500-1600 B.C. 6. Atlantis didn’t exist at all—Plato invented it.