Transatlantic Tunnel (October 2, 1935)
Released on October 2, 1935: (running time 1 hour and 33 minutes) A tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean from England to America is attempted.
Directed by Maurice Elvey
Written by Curt Siodmak, L. du Garde Peach and Clemence Dane from a novel by Bernhard Kellermann
The Actors: Richard Dix (Richard 'Mack' McAllan), Leslie Banks (Frederick 'Robbie' Robbins), Madge Evans (Ruth McAllen), Helen Vinson (Varlia Lloyd), C. Aubrey Smith (Lloyd), Basil Sydney (Mostyn), Henry Oscar (Grellier), Hilda Trevelyan (Mary), Cyril Raymond (Harriman), Jimmy Hanley (Geoffrey McAllan), George Arliss (Prime Minister of England), Walter Huston (President of the U.S.), James Carew (Jim Barton), Pat Fitzpatrick (Geoffrey as a young child), Helen Haye (oil magnate), Bryan Herbert (American reporter), Dennis Hoey (Worker), Allan Jeayes (steel magnate), Mary Jerrold (bit part), Percy Parsons (airways magnate), Cyril Smith (casualty announcer)
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Science Fiction in 1935 was mostly presented in fantasy scenes, but Transatlantic Tunnel gave movie goers one of the first sci-fi adventures with real cutting edge electronics. Television was just a scientific toy in science labs in 1935, but in this movie we see two-way television phones as a normal appliance. A group of British money men decide to build a tunnel from England to America, and engineer 'Mack' McAllen is in charge of the operation. He has a wife and young son that he neglects as he devotes every minute to the tunnel. His wife has Mack's best friend as a house guest and companion. One of the money men has a pretty young daughter that is taken with Mack. Mack's wife gets frustrated with Mack's absences and his possible desire for the other young lady. Out of frustration and lack of purpose, Mack's wife decides to go to work secretly in the tunnel, but once there, she gets 'tunnel disease' - an incurable malady that no one has yet been able to cure. She goes blind, and instead of letting her husband know, she leaves him and takes his young son with her.
Along with this relationship drama, we have a plot line of one of the major investors. One of the investors decides to dump his stock, causing a huge drop in its price, and creating a panic that will cause everyone else to dump their stock. He gets one of the other magnated to help him so that together when they dump their stock the price will plummet. Once the stock price hits bottom, they will buy back all of the stock for pennies on the dollar, and control the entire project. But there is a wrench in the plan. The fellow that hatched the plan secretly loves the young girl that secretly loves Mack. Got it? Okay. Now the tunnel stock has plummeted, and work on the tunnel has stopped. Mack badly needs a cash infusion to start the work again, but with the stock price in the cellar, there is no money for him to continue. So the young girl that secretly loves Mack goes to the fellow that loves her, and tells him that he can have her if he will give Mack enough money to keep construction going for three months. Because of his desire for the young lady, he promises to finance three more months of construction. But now his partner that dumped his stock along with him is very upset that the fellow threw a lifeline to Mack, and has him killed. Add to these story lines the presence of Mack's now grown son going to work in the tunnel without Mack's knowledge, and we have a fully involved story with no easy way to wind things up. But that isn't all - the tunnel hits a patch of lava, and it is determined that there is an active volcano dead ahead. When the volcano bursts through, Mack must close off the section, trapping the men working there inside, to preserve the rest of the tunnel - but his son is working in that area, so he will doom him to death if he closes that section.
Pop your corn, grab your soda, and enjoy a 1935 peek into the future - you will not only enjoy the melodrama of the relationship plots, but if you enjoy science fiction, you will just love the 1935 special effects and sci-fi treatments.