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Master of the World

Propeller in the rear, party in the front!

Rod Lott September 13th, 2011

As a huge Vincent Price fan, I’ve literally been waiting more than a decade for 1961’s “Master of the World” to hit DVD. At one time, it was slated to be released under MGM’s “Midnite Movies” line — I remember reading in a magazine that screenwriter Richard Matheson either completed interviews or commentary for it — before the studio abandoned that umbrella.


It’s now available at through MGM’s made-on-demand program, with no frills attached, but the important thing is that it’s out at all ... assuming you’re a Price checker. If you liked his AIP vehicles adapting Edgar Allan Poe, you’ll probably feel the same about this AIP vehicle adapting Jules Verne — two novels, to be exact: the title one and “Robur the Conqueror.”

Both stories cast Price as Robur, the oddball genius antihero who soars the skies in his Albatross airship at 200 mph, give or take. After an earthquake in Pennsylvania of all places stirs the citizens, a few of them find the source of the skirmish — Robur, of course — and bear witness to his high-speed, stratospheric madness. See, he uses his blimpzepcopter to wage war against war, dropping leaflets and warning governments to “disarm or perish.”

That’s a dark theme for such a spirited adventure, which must be why Matheson includes a recurring slapstick gag with Robur’s chef, trying to keep his kitchen orderly when the ship takes a turn or a dive. Out to stop Robur from decimating the earth below is none other than Charles Bronson.

Although “Master” is no masterpiece, it’s a fun film, and the Albatross is a terrific special effect for its time. Price’s roles and the AIP spirit, however, are timeless. —Rod Lott

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