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Master of the World [VHS]

3.9 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, David Frankham
  • Directors: William Witney
  • Writers: Jules Verne, Richard Matheson
  • Producers: Anthony Carras, Bartlett A. Carre, Daniel Haller, James H. Nicholson, Samuel Z. Arkoff
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: July 17, 2001
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792845609
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,576 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Inspired more by Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea than the Jules Verne novels it purports to be based upon (1896's Clipper of the Clouds and 1904's Master of the World), this American International Pictures production is a mildly diverting period fantasy adventure, buoyed mainly by leads Vincent Price and Charles Bronson. Nineteenth-century government agent Strock (Bronson) hires Prudence (Henry Hull), a munitions maker and balloon enthusiast, to help investigate the source of a mysterious voice that emanated from Pennsylvania's Great Eyrie. With Prudence's daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster) and her fiancé Philip (David Frankham), the pair flies over the mountain, only to be shot down and taken captive by Robur (Price). Using his colossal airship Albatross, Robur plans to end world warfare by decimating any country that refuses to lay down its arms. Despite solid efforts by Price and Bronson (who reportedly disliked each other), a thoughtful script by fantasy author Richard Matheson, and a lively score by Les Baxter, Master never takes flight. Miniature effects by Tim Baar, Wah Chang, and Gene Warren (a.k.a. Projects Unlimited, which created creatures for "The Outer Limits") are hobbled by AIP's infamously low budget, and B-movie vet William Whitney's direction is painfully lethargic. Lacking the necessary super-sized scope and star power of other Verne adaptations, including 1958's Around the World in Eighty Days and 1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth, Master is for AIP and Price completists only. MGM's digitally transferred full-frame print looks fabulous and includes the original theatrical trailer. --Paul Gaita

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Enjoyable low-budget romp based off of the Jules Verne novels Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World, but, oddly, using only the second one's title. Vincent Price stars as self-proclaimed "master of the world" Robur, inventor of a giant flying zeppelin named the Albatross, who abducts Charles Bronson's stoic police inspector and Henry Hull's blustery balloonist and his daughter, played by the fetching and strong-willed Mary Webster. Also along for the ride is Webster's idiotic, cowardly fiance played by David Frankham who does nothing but whine and be a jerk.

The screenplay by Richard Matheson is on the talky side with little in the way of action, but it's intelligently written and has some extremely quotable scenes. Prince really sinks his teeth into the part of the determined and passionate Robur, providing a less manic and composed alternative to James Mason's intense Captain Nemo in Disney's earlier 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Although Matheson insisted Charles Bronson was "miscast" as John Strock, he does his best in a pretty basic hero role that just calls for him to be square-jawed, stoic and punch henchmen. The stoic and square-jawed Bronson is perfect for punching henchmen, so I'm unsure what Matheson is talking about. His cool, quiet demeanor acts as a nice counterbalance to Price's more animated, over the top (but still enjoyable) performance.

Mary Webster's Dorothy is little more than someone for Bronson and Frankham to fight over and for Hull to act protective toward, but nevertheless, she does have an arc, albeit a pretty standard one, wherein she finds the guts to stand up to wimpy heel Frankham's Phillip and choose the manlier Strock. This just leaves Henry Hull.
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Format: VHS Tape
This film could be classified as a fantasy adventure with horror elements when you factor in Robur's wish to end all war. His method? He'll simply fly over oceans and seas in his airship Albitraus and bomb war ships until all war has stopped. Vincent plays Robur in this mad-cap film that begins with a history of aviation. Henry Hull is cast as a cynical judge and the great Charles Bronson is cast as a mysterious passenger who appears to be Robur's accompolice... but looks can be deceiving. Mary Webster and David Frankham play the other "prisoners". David's character isn't likable and you'd wish that Vincent or Charles would throw him off the Albitraus!! The film is sort of an in the air version of James Mason's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" with it's stop all war message.
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Format: VHS Tape
Disappointing and tepid acting seems to be the most stand-out quality in this film. Bronson, playing the hero Strock, obviously gives the part some effort. But his effort falls far short, coming off cold and unemotive. Contrary to the legendary collaboration of Price and Bronson in "House of Wax," Bronson's part might have been better served by a cardboard cutout. The film's hammy and dispassionate special effects certainly make one believe that that option may have been considered. Most film-makers of the period were far more creative with their few resources, and even if the effects were a little corny, they were at least charming. The effects in this movie are parallel only to your local middle-school's performance of "Oklahoma!"
Vincent Price saves the film from ruin, however, by delivering one of the most convincing and provoking performances of his career. Working with a decent script, Price plays perfectly Robur, an idealistic and madly brilliant conqueror, giving the viewer a perfect portrait of deeply-concealed rage and good-intention masked with vitriol and salted with madness. The character of Robur is somewhat metamorphic, and Price conforms to the part on demand. Demonic, honorable, diabolical, repetent -- Price shows all sides of Robur in perfect color.
Fans of Vincent Price and Jules Verne will love this film, and I would highly recommend it to them. Everyone else, however, might consider watching this one only if the oppurtunity presents itself on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recently purchased this DVD-R from Amazon and thought I would write a short review. The movie is based on, I think, two Jules Verne novels "Master of the World" and "Robur the Conqueror". I remember seeing this film as a kid and purchasing the paperback book with an image from the film on the cover. The film itself is very entertaining.

My only gripe is that it is on a DVD-R and not a DVD. It has a rather simple menu and the chapter stops are about every 5-10 minutes or so. Since it is from MGM the video quality is excellent and probably better than the widescreen laserdisc which I do have. I have not done a direct comparison but it looks excellent and is anamorphic.

Since MGM may never release this film on a regular DVD this might be your best option to get it unless you opt for the two releases from Spain. But if you are happy with a DVD-R then don't hesitate as the video is excellent.
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Format: VHS Tape
The plot of this movie is a bit unusual, but I found it likeable because of the actors, such as Vincent Price, Henry Hull, and David Frankham. Charles Bronson also stars, but is probably miscast here. The scenery and music are also well done.
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