Master of the World (1961)

Not Rated   |    |  Sci-Fi, Adventure

Master of the World (1961) Poster

In 1868, an American scientist and his team become hostages of fanatical pacifist Robur who uses his airship Albatross to destroy military targets on Earth.

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  • Charles Bronson in Master of the World (1961)
  • Master of the World (1961)
  • Master of the World (1961)
  • Master of the World (1961)
  • Charles Bronson and Henry Hull in Master of the World (1961)
  • Master of the World (1961)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

15 November 2002 | failedscreenwriter
| A Pretty Good Action Sleeper
I caught this one on cable recently, seeing it for the first time as an adult. I must admit to a slight bias toward this film: when I was growing up in the dreaded BC (before cable) days, it was standard Saturday afternoon TV fare on our local indie channels. I was surprised at how well it's held up after all this time.

Master of the World is actually based on two little-remembered Jules Verne novels. Price is his usual hammy self as the standard Verne not-quite-villain, Robur (read: Nemo in the air) who, like Nemo, seeks to end war through technology. The young Bronson, as a sympathizer who then rebels against Robur's violent methods, is far less wooden than in his later years. But the real star of this movie is its production design. The rendering of what an aircraft might have looked like in Victorian days (had such a thing been possible) is dead-on, and the special effects are pretty impressive for 1961. The script, by Richard Matheson, is a little overwrought, but true to Verne's spirit while eliminating the blatant racism of the original stories. This time around though, I found the sweeping, melodramatic score to be a bit overpowering.

In short, not a perfect film or even a great film, but Master of the World remains a well made, entertaining action fantasy. I'm surprised it isn't better remembered by fans of the genre.

Critic Reviews

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Did You Know?


Although the end titles credit the song "Master of the World" with music by Les Baxter, lyrics by Lenny Adelson and sung by Darryl Stevens, there is actually no song in the released film. As a matter of interest, Intrada for its 2009 soundtrack CD managed to trace the missing song, which turns out to be a haunting, alternate version of the end title. After the song was dropped, it was still credited on screen, but the chosen end title has just orchestra and choir. The lost lyrics go as follows: "Any man is Master of the World / If he has wandered in the world / And found his love / And of all the secrets of the earth / He has the only treasure worth / Dreaming of / If he rules just one heart a man is a king / It seems as though his soul has taken wing / And like the stars that fly on high above the earth / A man is Master of the World / When he is loved!"


Robur: I admire you, Mr. Strock. You do what you feel you must do without caring whether you alienate anyone or whether they understand you or not. That is my way. That is the only way for a man of dedication. I know that you would like to stop me, sir. ...


The shot of the "warship" from sea level is actually Fred MacMurray's ship, the "Gerrymander" from the 1952 film: "Fair Wind to Java" which was also directed by William Witney for Republic. The same footage was later used on "The Wild Wild West".

Crazy Credits


Alternate Versions

The Warner Home Video version runs 95 minutes and has no prologue sequence. The Orion Home Video version runs 99 minutes with the sequence. The laser disc version also includes the original exit music which brings the running time to 104 minutes.


Master of the World
Music by
Les Baxter
Lyrics by Lenny Adelson (as Lenny Addelson)
Sung by Darryl Stevens


Plot Summary


Sci-Fi | Adventure

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